Created as an agency of the Eastside Interfaith Social Concerns Council, Congregations for the Homeless (CFH) men’s shelter first opened its doors in 1993. Founded by Nadine Shannon, Betty Spohn, and Nadine Bentsen, the Rotating Shelter was created with the mission to provide a warm, safe, and hospitable place for up to 30 single men to sleep and be nourished with three healthy meals each day. Over the years, the shelter program has added access to showers, laundry, computers, medical assistance, and dental services.
In 2005, CFH added a comprehensive case management and life skills coaching program, expanding our mission to that of helping men successfully move from experiencing homelessness to permanent housing. Men are partnered one-on-one with a professional or trained life skills coach to help them develop a plan and goals that lead to increased financial, physical, and emotional stability.
The program addresses a wide range of personal issues and helps men connect with other agencies that can help in their quest for independence. We have assisted many men with access to social services, social security disability, mental health agencies, legal issues, financial burdens, medical issues, drug and alcohol treatment, and more. Our job placement services, in collaboration with Hopelink’s jobs program, helps men find jobs or move to a better job.
In 2006, we added subsidized housing to the programs we offer. To date, over 175 men have been handed a key to their own home and over 115 of those men have graduated to self-sustained permanent housing, while 60 clients remain in CFH homes.
The Eastside Winter Shelter (EWS) was opened to meet the winter conditions that endanger the lives of homeless men in our community. The EWS is intended to be a life-saving overnight shelter, one that can connect clients to needed resources that will help them move toward stability.
CFH opened a Day Center in downtown Bellevue in 2013. The Day Center is the first daytime resource on the Eastside for men who are without meals, showers, laundry facilities, computers, clothing, bus tickets, and hygiene products. The Day Center also provides a prime opportunity for staff to connect the homeless with additional CFH resources like the Winter Shelter.
Our Outreach program began in 2013 with participating Eastside cities. Our Outreach Coordinator proactively goes to places in each of these cities to find those experiencing homelessness, build relationships with them, and help connect them to needed resources
We added a Mental Health Program and currently employ a licensed mental health therapist who provides one-one-one and group support to our clients and staff as they navigate the traumatic stress of homelessness and deal with other mental health issues.
We also began our On and Up Housing Program, which provides 20 units of permanent affordable housing with light supports. This program serves men experiencing homelessness who need more time in their current employment to be ready for market-rate housing or to build up a solid reference and rental payment history.
We added a Navigation Program to provide access to housing for men, women, and children. We do this through customized staff support in navigating an incredibly complex service and housing system coupled with one-time direct financial assistance as needed to remove housing access barriers.