Frequently Asked Questions
Why is UM transitioning to a new Emergency Shelter model?
- Prior to COVID, UM provided emergency shelter through our Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) made up of dedicated local congregations who provided weekly rotational shelter to families. Due to COVID there have been significant challenges to this model, which relies heavily on a revolving network of congregational volunteers and ongoing close contact with participants.
- Recent feedback from a number of our host congregations revealed that reopening the full network will not be possible in the near future, given the continued challenges of Covid and its lasting effects on church operations.
- UM was made aware of an opportunity to lease apartment space from Grace Church through their new Front Porch Housing initiative at Greenville Tech, where they recently acquired property previously used for student housing (read more here).
- The new model allows UM to serve six families at one time, DOUBLING our current capacity from 3 à 6 families!
How will the new UM Emergency Shelter program be structured?
- Families with children experiencing homelessness will be provided up to 12 weeks of shelter in a fully furnished apartment, mirroring a model used by similar affiliate programs within the nationwide Family Promise network.
- Grace Church’s Front Porch Housing will own the units and UM will lease a total 10 apartments from them:
- 6 for our Emergency Shelter program
- 4 for our Interim Housing (to supplement the current 15 interim housing units)
- The apartments will be managed and supported by UM staff and volunteers, utilizing our carefully developed Housing Program protocols.
Why was this particular shelter location and model chosen?
- Unlike traditional apartment complexes, these 10 units are on site alongside Grace Church’s Front Porch Housing program and partner agencies, which provides safe and supportive housing options for individuals and families seeking the benefits of community and long-term personal growth.
- UM participants are welcome to participate in the programming and services offered through Front Porch Housing, but not required to as a part of the UM programming model and expectations.
Is it possible for UM to operate the Interfaith Hospitality Network with congregations who are ready to re-open, simultaneously with the emergency shelter apartment model?
- Unfortunately, it is not feasible to run a hybrid program that accomplishes our primary goal of serving families with children experiencing homelessness well during a time of crisis in their lives.
- To serve families on a weekly basis, the network needs a minimum of 12 congregations, all ready to host overnight guests for a week at a time.
- Hosting for a few weeks in congregations then moving families into apartments for the remainder of their shelter time would cause disruption to the families in shelter and would add greater expense to UM’s programming model.
How does the new Emergency Shelter model benefit families served by UM?
- It offers families the opportunity to remain in one location throughout their emergency shelter experience with UM.
- Families will gain stability, allowing for greater focus on addressing the underlying issues that led to their homelessness.
- Being able to live in an actual apartment home enables families to establish a sense of normalcy during an uncertain time.
Who is eligible to access UM’s Emergency Shelter?
- Our Emergency Shelter program is open to families experiencing homelessness with children 18 and younger who are currently living in Greenville County.
- UM offers one of the few emergency shelters in Greenville County where families can stay together, including single mothers with sons who are age 11 or older, or for single fathers with children.
- UM is also open to multi-generational families and is the only program that can accommodate large families with many children (more than 4).
When will the transition to the new program occur?
- The new model will be carefully unfolded in phases.
- This summer, UM will move our Emergency Shelter program to the Grace-owned apartment units.
- In the coming months, UM will engage with congregational partners to explore new ways for volunteers to be involved in this new model.
If I know a family that needs assistance, how can I connect them to UM’s program?
- If you or someone you know needs assistance with UM’s Emergency Shelter, please call 864-271-3424 and if it’s after office hours, please encourage them to leave a message which will be answered within 24 hours (or 48 hours if on a weekend).