The Interfaith Federation was formed in 1996 when three organizations in Gary,Hammond and East Chicago merged to form one powerful alliance. Since that time, the organization has expanded its membership to include Whiting, Munster and Hobart.
One of the issues pursued by the newly formed organization involved the location of the new federal building. The old building was located in Hammond, near the downtown corridor. However, it did not have enough space to house all of the federal agencies for the Northern District of Indiana. The two Federal District Court Judges began looking for a new location outside of Hammond. The two locations being considered were not accessible to those who relied on public transportation. Further, both locations would contribute to urban sprawl. After the Federation held several successful actions, including a public meeting attended by 1200 citizens, Congressman Visclosky announced that the new federal building would be located in Hammond.
The Federation leaders successfully led a "Holy Ground" campaign to close drug houses in the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. During this campaign, the organization was responsible for shutting down 100 of these blights on our communities. The Federation received substantial press for this effort, including an article in a London newspaper.
The Federation worked with other allies to urge the creation of a Regional Transportation Authority, known as the RTA. The purpose of the RTA was to provide a central and regional authority for the Gary, Hammond, East Chicago bus systems as well as the two on-demand systems operating in Northwest Indiana. After the RTA was created, the organization fought for a funding stream. This funding stream had to be approved by the State legislature. While waiting on that approval, the Federation began showing a powerpoint presentation to congregations and environmental groups which described urban sprawl and its effects. The Federation urged Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties to begin to think and act regionally. During the two years that followed the creation of the RTA, the organization stayed on message and continued to meet with public officials, challenging them to think and act regionally.
In the last hours of the 2005 General Assembly, the State legislature approved the creation of a Regional Development Authority (RDA) to replace the RTA. The State of Indiana also created a Regional Bus Authority (RBA) to specifically plan for coordinated bus transportation between the cities and suburbs of Lake and Porter Counties.
In 2006, the Federation challenged the Lake County Solid Waste Management Board to deny a license to operate a medical waste facility in East Chicago. Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting already bear most of the weight of the industrial facilities in Northwest Indiana. Transporting medical waste through Gary and East Chicago would increase the likelihood of contamination. The actions of Federation leadership prompted support from East Chicago's mayor and city council. The East Chicago City Council refused to issue a local license for this business. The Lake County Solid Waste Management Board agreed and denied the license for a medical waste facility in East Chicago.