Tag Archives: homelessness

A Churches Role in Preventing & Ending Homelessness

14 Oct

I really love the work Lake Avenue Church is doing to prevent and end homelessness in Pasadena. The idea of ending homelessness is powerful and possible. All too often our Churches are involved in simply managing homelessness by limiting their capabilities to feeding and clothing ministries, not realizing God can multiply our efforts if we learn and partner with an aim to actually end homelessness. We need to take that next step of building relationships with those homeless sleeping at our Church doorsteps. We need to build relationships with our local city and county programs that are working with the Housing First model, a model proven with clear nationwide evidence based research.

By holding hands with our homeless friends and Housing Frist programs, we can realize what the early Church did in Acts 4 when they ended poverty. Let us do the same. Mark out a manageable geographic of a few blocks around our Churches or a part of town where the most vulnerable stay and decide to end poverty in that area. We can’t do it alone. We need partnerships. We need other Churches, city staff and officials. Once we have done our homework, we may be in a position to educate our city staff and support them in what must be done. We need to help our planning departments initiate a homeless count so they become aware of local needs. With hard data our local cities can apply for the necessary resources.

Some Churches are seeking to prevent homelessness before it ever transpires, an even more affordable and sustainable approach. Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena has begun a program that helps prevent homelessness by helping those facing evictions. I thank God for Lake Avenue Church and the Lake Avenue Community Foundation, which is taking seriously the example of the early Church by focusing intensely on a manageable geographic and seeking to break the cycles of poverty through their outreach programs.

Lake Avenue Church: Crisis, Advocacy, and Prevention

“LAC provides crisis intervention and preventative assistance and support for those who are at-risk of eviction or are currently homeless. Our task is to “bridge the gap” for persons who are in a short-term crisis. LAC also works closely with the comprehensive range of resources available in the local community by providing prayer, guidance, mentoring, accountability, and advocacy.”

Churches Can Initiate the First Step to Ending Homelessness by Counting

14 Oct

Pasadena is a model in many ways, with a host of volunteers conducting yearly homeless counts which provides hard data that has allowed the city and other non-profits to apply for funding and housing vouchers.

If a city has homeless and they haven’t yet conducted a count, this is the first step to ending homelessness. The Census Bureau itself does not require homeless counts and cities can often deny that they have homeless residents; this is where the Church can play a pivotal role. The book of Chronicles as well as other chapters throughout the Bible provide detailed lists of people by name recorded for all eternity. Churches can make visible the often invisible by initiating and participating in a count. Churches can contact Urban Initiatives to learn how homeless counts should be conducted and can play a significant role in the first step to ending homelessness.

Contact The Office of Urban Initiatives at Fuller Seminary

The city of Pasadena has done an excellent job of providing a significant level of services and housing for the homeless community thanks to Bill Huang, Director of Housing & Career Services, and Joe Colletti, Executive Director, of Urban Initiatives. The article below by Lauren Gold describes Pasadena’s 2014 homeless count and the significant role of Fuller Seminary.

“Homeless Count Helps Provide Data for Services” by Lauren Gold, reporter at Pasadena Star-News

Photo Credit: James Carbone for the Pasadena Star News

Youth Moving On in Pasadena

4 Apr

This guest post is by Norma Fain Pratt, PhD, a fellow member of our Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group. She and I recently toured the Youth Moving On Peer Resource Center. Youth Moving On is a program of Hillsides, an organization dedicated to the well being of children and youth that is affiliated with the Episcopal Housing Alliance.

We were met by Aurelio Mitjans, Youth Advocate, to take Jill Shook and me, members of the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group, to have a look at the attractive and modern facility of Youth Moving On’s Peer Resource Center at 456 E. Orange Grove Blvd, suite 140 in Pasadena.

Articulate and informed, Aurelio described the functions of the Peer Resource Center as a “one-shop-stop” for centralized services and support for transition-age youth ages 16-25. Many of the participants, he noted, come from foster homes while some have been homeless or are recovering from drug abuse or serious domestic dysfunction.

The PR Center consists of a set of large rooms and offices with computers, a television set, desks, and a conference table. The young people were seated in groups engaged in lively discussions or individually, reading. The Youth Moving On program is multifaceted. Several of their training aspects include career counseling, on-site tutoring in academic and vocational subjects, mutual support groups, health and wellness seminars, and social and psychological therapy.

Privately financed, Youth Moving On resources are funded by Hillsides, with the support of the Everychild Foundation and other individual investors. To help achieve stability, the program also provides certain basic needs like food, clothing, hygiene products, and school supplies. They also provide internships, subsidized education/scholarships, and linkage to other support service providers.

Aurelio was especially proud of the housing programs developed by Youth Moving On.  There are two types of housing available: transitional and permanent. The permanent program is located in Los Angeles, but we got to see the transitional housing, consisting of 12 units embedded in a larger, 48-unit beautifully manicured apartment building on Oakland Avenue.

These twelve units provide 24 beds around the corner from the Peer Resource Center. The young occupants are carefully supervised and benefit from supportive advice and education, which assists them in learning individual strengths, community skills, and goals for success.

The Youth Moving On program has served more than 900 youth, and the Peer Resource Center has received more than 5,000 visits since its opening in April 2013. There have been many achievements for Youth Moving On participants.  Significant numbers have entered the workforce and have graduated from local community colleges, state universities, and even University of California schools.

Certainly, Youth Moving On is a Cadillac program – a model for any new youth programs to be developed nationwide.  Diverse in population, rich in program ideas, and well staffed while supportive of community participation and input, it is a vivacious institution that offers so much to homeless and displaced young people.

Tiny Houses Help Address Nation’s Housing Problem

11 Mar


(AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

“MADISON, Wis. (AP) — While tiny houses have been attractive for those wanting to downsize or simplify their lives for financial or environmental reasons, there’s another population benefiting from the small-dwelling movement: the homeless.”–Carrie Antlfinger

Want to learn more? Here is the link to the full article http://bigstory.ap.org/article/tiny-houses-help-address-nations-homeless-problem

Thank you, Mary Girard, for suggesting this article and for the great work that you are doing to provide homes for the homeless.

Beacon Interfaith: Empowering Churches to Build Affordable Housing, Part 1

28 Feb

The challenges of ending homelessness and creating affordable housing are complex and many. These tasks are not for the faint of heart. They call for a community of committed and passionate people, hard work, perseverance, and faith in the mission.

That’s where Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative comes in.  

Located in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, the organization was begun by members of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis who daily met homeless neighbors. Congregants decided to address the problem’s root causes by developing the Lydia Apartments, which just marked its tenth anniversary of changing lives.

Growing out of Plymouth, Beacon brought its expertise of working with congregations to the broader community. The organization now partners with faith groups of many denominations, empowering them to direct their own passion and resources toward ending homelessness.

“It takes time and care to build support within congregations, which have their own programs, groups and concerns,” notes Kris Berggren, Beacon’s communications specialist. “But people of faith bring so many assets to the table, including their values and motivation to act for the good of others.”

And its model works: Since 1999, Beacon has partnered with over 50 faith congregations to complete 16 affordable housing projects, both new and renovated structures, and to provide emergency shelter.

Jordan, resident of Nicollet Square

Jordan is one of 42 young residents of Nicollet Square, a partnership among Beacon, Plymouth Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Close to 800 residents have found homes, and
 four more projects are in the pipeline. In addition, each day 30 parents and children find support at Families Moving Forward, an emergency and transitional shelter operated by Beacon.

The agency’s model works because it creates the strong support structure needed to see development projects through. “It’s about building relationships in order to expand the network of people who care about affordable housing,” says Allison Johnson, a Beacon congregational partnership organizer. “We want to ensure that it’s transformational for the congregation and community.”

Before coming to Beacon, Allison worked with congregations with Sojourners on the issue of immigration reform. “There are many parallels between affordable housing and the immigration issue,” she notes.

“Just as angry U.S. citizens may rail against immigrants in their community for taking jobs and taxpayer resources, neighbors turn out at meetings to blast affordable housing developments, claiming they will drive down property values and increase criminal activity.

“The tools to combat these attitudes in our society are remarkably similar – moral courage, a willingness to listen, and facts to educate the general public and reduce stigmas,” Allison says.

In Part Two, learn how organizing works and why it’s crucial to Beacon’s mission.

Photos courtesy of Beacon.


Beacon Interfaith is featured on pages 179–181 of Making Housing Happen – read an excerpt here. You can find more info and purchase the book on the Wipf and Stock website.


Natalie Brown, 11, speaking at the Pasadena City Council, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

5 Feb

Natalie Brown, 11, speaking at the Pasadena City Council, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

Good evening. My name is Natalie Brown, I am 11 years old and in the sixth grade. I am grateful to be one of the winners of the Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest of 2014. I am thrilled to be here tonight because my essay was about housing and homelessness.

My family attends church in Pasadena and I go to school in Sierra Madre. My dad, who is a doctor, would volunteer his services for Elizabeth House and Door of Hope residents. One day I was in the car with my mom waiting for the light to turn green at Michillinda and Foothill Blvd. I saw a young man that was dirty, thin, had dark hair and somewhat dark skin. He was standing on the middle island, holding a sign, and he looked hungry. I thought, why is he here, he is too young to be here. We saw him there more than just that day and each time we drove past my heart sank. We would be listening to happy music and then we would see him and each time my heart felt heavy.

I do not want to be remembered as a person who did nothing in this world. I want to make a positive impact in the community. In my essay I acknowledged that Dr. King gave his life to help people. I too would like to dedicate my life to those in need. I would like my legacy to be that I helped extinguish the quick spreading flames of homelessness.

Homelessness is such a hard and painful tragedy. There are mental illnesses and financial problems that can easily cause people to lose their homes and not be able to buy food. It makes me feel such sadness to see homeless people of any age. I want to help in the fight against homelessness.

A big step is to provide housing to homeless families. There are already places in Pasadena that house these families, but we need more. By giving people a home it gives them shelter while they can receive job training and education. The hope is they can soon afford their own homes.

After I won the MLK essay one of my teachers sent me an article on the homelessness fight in Utah. Utah has reduced homelessness by 78% just by giving people homes! They have done this under Utah’s Housing First program. Their goal in a few years would to have 100% of the homeless people in homes. This gives us great hope! To do this here we need a Housing Commission to move forward to provide adequate and affordable housing for all in need and to be an example and even partner with Sierra Madre where I to school and Monrovia where I live.

I believe that, with God’s help, all things are possible and anyone can help change the lives of those in need…even a young girl like me. This is the prize money I won in the essay contest. It is $250. I know it is difficult to find the money to fund the Housing Commission, so I would like to donate my prize money to the Housing Commission. I hope it will help in getting it started.
Thank you very much.

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