Rev. John Elford, senior pastor at University United Methodist, and David Guarino, of All Saints Episcopal, point out the effects of state action on homelessness in Austin.
This Thanksgiving, most of us will sit down with our loved ones for a feast in a cozy home. Outside, hundreds of our neighbors experiencing homelessness in Austin will be scrambling for a place to escape from the elements, both literal and political.
We of Austin’s faith community have frequent contact with our unsheltered neighbors, and they have taught us a great deal. They have shown that too many of us are just one or two paychecks and a run of bad luck away from the same fate. Our homeless neighbors have also taught us that we have a shared humanity that transcends circumstances.
Austin is at a critical moment in our fight to end homelessness. Recent attempts to revise the city’s old ordinances, which effectively criminalized everyday activities, brought people experiencing homelessness out of the shadows. It was hard to miss that our neighbors were suffering.
The response of the governor was to order the dismantling of encampments under state highways and provide a vacant lot off U.S. 183 as an alternative campground, far from the city’s social service and transportation hubs. As a result, many of our unhoused neighbors have been forced back to the woods, out of sight....
[Photo Credit: Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman]
Commentary: This Holiday, Let's Focus on Hope for Homeless, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
With standing room only, 300 delegates from One LA member and guest institutions convened on Sunday, July 21, 2019 at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills to set an ambitious agenda for 2020.
"Our 2020 vision is a roadmap to building power," said Nancy Goldstone, Co-Chair of the assembly and member of Temple Beth Am. "I don't need to tell you that it will be a watershed year, nationally and locally. While many will be focusing on the presidential election, half of LA city council and half of LAUSD board members are up for election, and we have a major contest in LA County Supervisor's District 2. That is where decisions are made that affect us daily."
Teams of leaders from across LA County shared stories about what is at stake around One LA's four issue campaigns: immigration, housing, human trafficking and mental health. "We need our state senators, county supervisors and city council members to do more to protect immigrants," shared Yadira Mireles, on the immigration team at San Gabriel Mission. "People need lawyers. They need good information. People coming out of detention need shelter and services. We can't just be a sanctuary city in name only. We want elected officials who will work with us so that Los Angeles will truly be a place that welcomes immigrants."
State Senator Holly Mitchell and City Attorney Mike Feuer joined the assembly and reacted to One LA's vision for building power. When asked if she would join One LA leaders in a listening campaign on mental health issues, Senator Mitchell rose to the challenge and offered to co-host a session. City Attorney Feuer laid out specific ways his office would work with One LA on all four issue campaigns, encouraging leaders to contact his office directly in cases of immigration fraud, intelligence on human traffickers, and housing fraud.
One LA leaders then caucused by region on specific strategies to build more power ahead of the 2020 elections, including broadening and expanding their constituencies through recruiting other institutions, and raising more hard money to hire and train organizers. "Hard money is our favorite kind of money," said Janet Hirsch of Temple Isaiah. "It is money that we control, and that lets us set our agenda on our own terms and our own time." Leaders pledged $200,000 in hard money commitments for 2020.
Before adjourning, leaders unanimously ratified a proposal to organize candidates forums and conduct a robust Get out the Vote Campaign ahead of the 2020 elections.
Money Matters: A Reflection, by Diane Vanette, leader of One LA and Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
In an effort to address key determinants to homelessness, 100 AMOS leaders assembled in Ames with candidates for state and county office to secure commitments around their agenda. Candidates who participated included Story county Supervisor Rick Sanders (incumbent), Linda Murken, and Josh Opperman. Also in attendance was Representative Lisa Heddens, from Iowa House District 46.
Leaders succeeded in gaining commitments from the Supervisor to work with AMOS to create a 'Housing First' program in Story County to address the needs of residents with chronic mental illness and housing insecurity, including dedicated county staff-time and resources to the planning effort. Rep. Heddens committed to working to increase funding for mental health services in the upcoming legislative session.
After commemorating the end of REST (a rotating and temporary winter shelter program created by Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) for homeless individuals and families) MOC leaders are now focusing on identifying funding for more permanent housing options, including a "housing first" approach to homelessness. "We have realized for some time that was just a lifeboat," said Purdy, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. "We kept people fed and out of the rain and cold but we did not end homelessness."
And after learning that most tenants that inquire about the landlord mediation program refrain from participation for fear of retaliation by their landlords, leaders are renewing their push for a "just cause" eviction ordinance. "It's hard to imagine tenants feeling safe requesting mediation from landlords, if the landlord has the right to evict them without cause," Meredith Parnell, chairwoman of the Marin Organizing Committee's renter protection team, said at a public hearing.Read more
300+ leaders of the Marin Organizing Committee gathered for a candlelight vigil to commemorate the end of a 10-year old temporary shelter program they established, REST, and the start of a new best-practice system of care to end homelessness in Marin County, called Housing Focused Shelter.
"Justice requires permanent housing over a temporary spot on a church floor," said Rev. Jan Reynolds, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael and member of Marin Organizing Committee.Read more
One LA leaders celebrated a second election victory for the most vulnerable in Los Angeles County after the March 7 election. Together, with a coalition of other organizations and with the support of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, leaders worked to pass Measure Hâ€” a quarter cent sales tax to fund critical services for homeless populations as well as homelessness prevention for those at risk.Read more
Says leader Pat Langley, a parishioner at St. Anselm Church in Ross, "We haven't run out of gas!" Langley explained that just this year, MOC signed up 8,500 Marin residents who support the creation of a new year-round shelter for the homeless. Leaders furthermore secured, through non-partisan accountability assemblies, pledges of support from Dennis Rodoni, who was elected to the Marin County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 8, and supervisors Kate Sears and Katie Rice, who secured re-election in June.Read more
Marin Co., CA - This summer, more than 50 appeared before the Marin County Board of Supervisors to urge them to site, fund and operationalize a year-round shelter for 60 homeless men and women. For the last eight years, Marin's "Rotating Emergency Shelter" (REST) program has operated on a provisional basis, depending on 40 supporting congregations, 17 congregational hosts and thousands of volunteers.Read more