The Interfaith Winter Shelter began in the late spring of 2009 when clergy and lay leaders from many faith communities came together to consider ways to respond to concerns for the health, safety, and well-being of men and women who are homeless.   The project quickly “snowballed” and today involves over 20 faith communities, over 450 volunteers, and a number of public, private, and governmental entities working together to provide emergency winter shelter to Monroe County’s homeless individuals.

IWS models its program after PADS, a similar program in Chicago that has been in operation for over 20 years.   In this multi-site model, several different faith communities host the shelter for one or two nights per week on a rotating basis, using volunteers, financial resources, and in-kind donations from each hosting site and the community at large.

The IWS operates as a “low barrier” shelter during the winter months.  It was designed to offer a safe and warm place to sleep for men and women who—for whatever reason— have no other alternative but the streets.  The primary criteria for admission into the shelter is respectful behavior, regardless of whether or not a guest is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance.  Experience has taught us incidents of inappropriate behavior are rare.  Guests simply appreciate a warm place to sleep.

Participating sites and volunteers agree to follow a set of guidelines that allows for the safety and well being of guests and volunteers alike, including no drugs, alcohol, or weapons on the premise.

Please read more information in Frequently Asked Questions.