The FHN Story

History of Faith Family Hospitality/Family Housing Network in Fort Collins

Background

In 2009, a group of leaders from different faith communities began discussing the possibility of expanding the work of Loveland’s Angel House, a member of the national Interfaith Hospitality Network/Family Promise program.  Recruitment of faith communities was initiated with the intention of extending the 10-year-old Loveland program to Fort Collins. By 2011, sixteen congregations had been recruited that were willing to host up to four families that were experiencing homelessness for a week at a time, from 5 pm to 7 am the following day on a rotating basis, with Angel House providing screening, day time shelter and case management. Unfortunately, Angel House was unable to raise the funds necessary to secure staffing and expand their program to Fort Collins.

In October of 2011, the Fort Collins congregations met with Angel House staff to explore options for implementing the program. Several people volunteered to make contact with local nonprofits with the goal of determining local needs and resources.

Faith Family Hospitality began operating as a program January 15, 2012 with:

  1.  A cooperative agreement with the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope to:
    1. Provide initial screening and referral of guests to FFH program
    2. Provide weekly case managers to guests
    3. Day time shelter with showers and laundry
  2. Nine congregations committed to providing onsite housing and eight congregations committed to supporting those host sites.
  3. The support of The Fort Collins Interfaith Council which agreed to sponsor the program.
  4. The United Way of Larimer County which agreed to serve as the fiscal agent for the program.
  5. A Steering Committee, composed of representatives from each of the participating congregations, was organized that would be the decision-making entity for the program and a Liaison Team, composed of four volunteers, agreed to provide leadership and coordination for the program.
  6. In April 2012, FFH entered into a contract with Sue Peterson, a trained & experienced social worker to serve as the Family Advocate for the program and enhance communication between the Murphy Center and the volunteer coordinators at each host site.
  7. In 2013, the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship offered their site to establish a day center a few days a week.  By 2014, laundry and showers were installed, and families had a place to multitask as they overcame homelessness.
  8. In October 2015, Sue Peterson became the full-time case manager providing primary case management, and quicker, smoother access to community resources through warm referrals between partners.  A part time Executive Director was hired as well to help manage the organization.
  9. In 2017, FFH began working on the next step of the program. Today additional shelter is being developed for those guests who need longer term shelter in a “bridge” housing location at 321 S. Sherwood St. in Fort Collins.  Seven additional families with more obstacles to overcome will be sheltered for up to 6 months. Chrissa Percival was hired to replace Sue Peterson after her resignation.
  10. In late 2018, a part time Volunteer Coordinator, Steph Thieman, was hired to help train and organize volunteer efforts. Chrissa left FFH to join Project Self-Sufficiency.
  11. In 2019, Faith Family Hospitality changed its name to Family Housing Network, keeping Faith Family Hospitality as the name of the overnight program. The Executive Director’s role was increased to full time and Jessica Kern, MSW was hired as the FHN Program Manager.
  12. During the COVID 19 pandemic, FHN stopped the weekly rotation between faith communities and continued to serve families with shelter, case management and daytime support and ended up staying from mid March until the end of the year.
  13. In June 2020, the day center opened. The 4,000 square foot retail space at the corner of Prospect and Lemay allows FHN to serve more families, allowing for potential expanded hours.