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Emergency Shelter

Our rotational shelter program and warm hospitality is the foundation of the Family Promise model.


Each night for the past 20+ years, congregations have opened their places of worship to host homeless families.  The innovative model — using existing space such as churches and enlisting help from congregations and volunteers motivated by compassion — has helped over 10,000 of our neighbors in need.  Working with community resources, Family Promise provides comprehensive and targeted services, including extensive case management. Furthermore, Family Promise serves families of all compositions, often providing their only shelter option in a community.

And it works.

On average, 98% of the people served in the shelter program are able to secure housing within three months. Because of the depth of services and community support, families stay housed, and Affiliates provide both prevention and stabilization services to increase their impact.


The typical day for a family in our shelter goes something like this: they start their morning early, often waking up at 6:00 AM in order to get kids ready, eat breakfast, and be out of the church by 7:00 AM. Parents will often head back to the Day Center so that kids can catch their school bus on time. After that, parents will travel to work or stay at the Day Center to work with our case manager and search for jobs and housing. They also may have multiple appointments throughout the day, often using the shelter van for transportation. Parents generally make their way back to the Day Center by 3:30 PM to get kids off their school bus and ready them for the transition to the church. By 5:00 PM, they are heading to the host church for a warm welcome, a meal, and some time to rest.

When a family joins our shelter program, they must quickly adjust to life in the Network. They balance work and school schedules with case management appointments and meals at the church, all while searching for housing. They are able to do this with the support of our host and supporting congregations and the people who volunteer over 18,500 hours annually. By having such a large network of dedicated volunteers, families are enveloped by caring, positive individuals working tirelessly to ensure they always feel at home.

Happy Children

By bringing the community together on the issue of family homelessness, Family Promise addresses a major social problem in a holistic, effective way. Once the community becomes engaged, people understand the root causes of family homelessness and take steps to alleviate them. Over the last 20 years, Family Promise has created multiple community initiatives in addition to shelter — homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing — that target the issues of poverty and homelessness directly related to the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area.


Not only does our 98% success rate mean many more families stably housed, it is also a tremendous cost savings to the community as a diversion from far more expensive interventions. Our approach of keeping families together, identifying their strengths, and partnering with the community for solutions means that families are at much lower risk of returning to homelessness.


Family Promise changes lives. We've served several parents and children last year, giving them the ability to realize their true potential. We also change the lives of our almost 2,000 volunteers, giving them a meaningful outreach right in our own backyard.

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