Our mission is to provide a low-barrier winter shelter for homeless individuals in Monroe County. The Shelter opens for guests at 9:00 pm, except on Sunday when the doors open at 8:30 pm. All guests must leave the Shelter by 7:00 am the following morning. In general, guests should not begin waiting to enter the Shelter until about 30 minutes before the doors open. If the weather is particularly bad, the doors may open earlier if enough volunteers have arrived. Our purpose is to offer a warm, safe place to those who have no place to go and do not meet admission requirements for other shelter sites in this community.

The Shelter is currently recruiting volunteers and accepting donations for the 2016-2017 season. We welcome your participation as volunteer, donor, or community partner in a collaborative effort that is strengthened by the whole community’s involvement. The Interfaith Emergency Winter Shelter will open on November 1, 2016 and will close after the night of March 31, 2017.


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 criterion for admission into the shelter is respectful behavior, regardless of whether or not a guest is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances.  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.