MUSLIM FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES BECOME HOMELESS EVERYDAY
" A Pakistani family in California heads for Florida for a promised job when their car breaks down in Kentucky. They use their savings on repairs, then learn that the job offer has been withdrawn, leaving them in an unfamiliar city, penniless and homeless.
" In Houston a father, a new convert to Islam, gains custody of his daughter whose mother is addicted to drugs. But when he loses his job and his apartment, he has to put his daughter in a foster home.
" In Columbus, Ohio, a Somali family comes home to find everything they own and the house they live in consumed by fire. Where can they turn?
What are the options for a Muslim family that is homeless? Some shelters house people with substance abuse or mental illness. Other programs split families up, sending fathers and older sons to one shelter while mothers and daughters go to another. Housing people in motel rooms is costly and provides no solutions for the causes of a family's homelessness. And many shelters require Christian activities- attending church services or studying of the Bible-for a family to receive help.
Fortunately, each of these families received shelter, food and professional services through a local Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). In fact, IHNs have served homeless Muslim families in more than 25 of our networks across the country: American-born families and families from Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Indonesia. In these times, it does not take much to become homeless-a fire, loss of a job, unexpected medical expenses, false promises of jobs or apartments, theft, immigration problems. Nationally, hundreds of thousands of families experience homelessness every year. One out of every four homeless persons is a child. And, yes, some of these families and children are Muslim.
In 96 communities across the country there is an option for homeless Muslim families-the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). Even though churches, synagogues and now masajid are used to shelter the families, volunteers only share food, fellowship and friendship with the families-not religion. A Muslim family coming into an IHN can be assured that " The family stays together " They are part of a larger community that cares about its brothers and sisters no matter what faith they hold " They can continue to lead an Islamic life while homeless " They will get the help they need to become-and stay-independent
Please encourage your community to get involved with the local IHN. For information go to www.familypromise.org and contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 908 273-1100 x12.