Last week, the Community Loan Fund closed on a new loan with an old partner, the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless (IPH). The $250,000 long-term, term loan will help finance the renovation of their headquarters on Sheridan Avenue, enabling the organization to bring on more staff and expand their programming to meet increasing service needs.

“IPH is thankful to have the Community Loan Fund in our community,” says Janine Robitaille, Executive Director for the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless.  “As a partner they have provided support, guidance and encouragement as we work through years of growth. Having the Community Loan Fund as a resource gives IPH the opportunity to strengthen programs with confidence and support during both the optimistic times and during challenging times such as the COVID – 19 pandemic.”

The renovation will involve the annexation 180 Sheridan – a former private residence – to their building at 176 Sheridan. This expansion will add 1,500 square feet of office space, including 5 private offices, a small conference room, break room and toilets.

Each year, IPH provides services and case management to 2,000 homeless individuals. As a result of their aid, hundreds of homeless individuals and families have obtained housing, and hundreds more have successfully remained housed. But the rapidly expansion of programs and services has left both staff and clients crunched for space.

“The growth that IPH has experienced has led to staff sharing offices, working in small spaces that should offer more privacy and leaving us no room to add more staff,” says Bonnie St. Onge, Director of Development for Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. Expanding the organization’s facility will allow them to continue their high level of service, and continue the popular Siena Bonner program and other volunteer opportunities that had been curtailed due to lack of space.

“The Siena Bonner program is a valuable resource.  It is one which we have enjoyed for 8 years but can no longer entertain due to the lack of space.  We benefit from and enjoy providing experiences for resources such as the Bonner program, interns, volunteers, and AmeriCorps Vista Fellows,” said St. Onge.

By adding space, IPH will be able to restore these valuable community partnerships. They will also be able to free up space for staff that is providing direct support and services to guests in their homeless shelter, resulting in better outcomes.

“Guests will have the opportunity to meet with an increased number of case managers and attend life skill classes and healthy activities provided by Bonners and interns.  Guests’ experiences will improve as they receive additional support while focusing on improved health, employment, and housing stability. In addition to increased case management services, guests will have private spaces for meeting with a pastor or a therapist, and staff and providers will have confidence that they are maintaining the privacy of our guests,” said St. Onge.

Finally, the expansion will improve the efficiency of IPH’s services – all the more crucial because they anticipate increased demand due to the current economic landscape. Enhanced services will ensure that more of these new guests have a better chance of finding permanent housing.

“In 2018 IPH served 308 guests at the Albany Emergency Shelter and 127 guests were discharged to a positive living environment,” says St. Onge. “With more direct support we predict a 20% increase.”