Creating the Community We Want to Live in…
On November 8th, 95 people from 25 District congregations met at Temple Micah for Good Faith’s fall meeting to listen to presentations and consider issues around homelessness and affordable housing in the District.
Rev. John Graham of Grace Episcopal in Georgetown opened the meeting with a mediation on Micah’s assertion of what is demanded of us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Msgr. John Enzler of Catholic Charities spoke about men who are homeless living in shelter – long lines to sign in, another line to get sheets, another line for a bowl of pasta…..75 sleeping in a room…..many up before dawn to get a bus ticket so they can get in the city in time to work.
Albert Townsend, People for Fairness Coalition, an organization of the formerly homeless, believes change can happen in people’s lives, but only with help, a lot of help – help to manage a system that is totally foreign to those who have who have lived for years on the street.
Jay Melder, chief of staff in the District Department of Human Services, presented the Mayor’s plan, Homeward DC, that lays out a roadmap to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. One of the major initiatives in the plan is to close the city’s largest family shelter at DC General and replace it with 6 smaller family shelter – one in each of the 6 under-served wards. The design and the placement of the shelters will be made public before the first of the year.
Questions from the attendees made it clear that challenges in sub-groups of the homeless population will require special attention – from young people aging out of foster care with no money, no job and no housing to the working poor who do not make enough to afford a place to live, to the not “officially” homeless who live doubled up in temporary housing with relatives and friends.
Good Faith will reach out in the next months to each congregation who participated with the goal of creating an informed community: Be informed! Be active! Make a difference!
Shelter Census: November 4, 2015: 629 families with 1247 children in shelter and transitional housing + 1182 individuals in low barrier shelters.
Put the homeless hotline number in your phone: 800-535-7252. In hypothermia season (temperature below 32 degrees – Nov. 1 – March 31), the DC Department of Human Services provides shelter or blankets to individuals living on the street. If you see someone who needs help, alert DHS through the hotline. You may save someone’s life!
IN THE NEWS
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments published the results of the 2015 Point in Time survey of regional homelessness. Read summary.
Biblical Roots of Justice – Foundation of the Journey for Justice: an interfaith conversation on homelessness and the Journey for Justice for our neighbors who are without homes (10 minutes)