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Why is Advocacy Necessary?


There is a critical need for homeless/affordable housing and for people willing to advocate for such housing. The chronic homeless rate is increasing in Pasadena and throughout So Cal. In the 31 cities in San Gabriel Valley, where Pasadena resides, the homeless count rose 24%, from 3,605 people in 2018 to 4,479 in 2019. The Good news that Pasadena is the only city in LA County where the overall homeless count dropped by 20%. Due to GPAHG’s efforts, we have helped to approve 134 PSH units within 12 months. We feel extremely grateful to our collaboration with churches and others to help make this happen.


Evidence-based best practices demonstrate that affordable homes end homelessness and permanent supportive homes (PSH) end chronic homelessness. Yet, CA State policy requires that we plan for housing for all income levels, but there is no law that requires affordable housing. All affordable housing must be advocated for. Article 34 requires a public vote for affordable housing, see:


When congregations understand the significant role they can play as advocates, they are often motivated to become involved.

Why our Church Liaison Membership is essential and how YOU can become a Church Liaison


We serve congregations of all faiths by helping them put their faith into practice to end the affordable housing and homelessness crisis through advocating for affordable and “permanent supportive” housing. We do this by mobilizing members of congregations at crucial times to attend city council meetings and/or write letters to the city council or other government entities. 


For this reason, we have developed our liaison program in which we help clergy and lay leaders identify a person in their congregation who can act as an official liaison to The Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG.) This liaison:


  • attends monthly GPAHG meetings

  • Determines the congregation’s interests, strengths and needs concerning housing 

  • Shares information and/or makes announcements at the organization on behalf of GPAHG

  • Facilitates the donation of $50 or more per year from the congregation

  • Rallies 5 to 10 people from the congregation to participate in campaigns/meetings, especially as part of a rapid response when needed.


Our Church Liaison Membership Coordinator, Bert Newton, is reaching out to Pasadena churches interested in advocating for the solution to homelessness. Bert, an ordained pastor with Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference and biblical scholar, would love to meet with you to discuss how your congregation can be involved. 


Liaison members become part of a rapid response team that convenes via conference call on Friday at 7pm once the City Council agenda is out on Thursday evening. We determine, in that conference call, whether we need to activate our rapid response network in our churches.


Here is the application form for you to prayerfully consider for you and your church:  


Bert will review with you what is involved. Once you and your church have made a commitment, we hope to come to your church to dedicate your Liaison member into this new ministry of the church.  

Liaison Training Sessions

Title: Liaison Training: How to do a one-on-one with Anne Fox

Date: Friday, May 22, 2020

About: Anne Fox leads this liaison training session focused on how to do a one-on-one. This is the basis of all we do in MHCH to build a movement.

MHCH Church Liaisons


Pasadena Presbyterian Church

Liaison Representative: Areta Crowell

Pasadena Presbyterian was the first church established in Pasadena; it was founded in 1875. It is located at 585 East Colorado Blvd. The Modern-style sanctuary was designed by architect John Gougeon of Gougeon-Woodman, completed in 1976.


The church helped found ECPAC—Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Churches 1894, which later became Friends In Deed in an interfaith organization that provides supportive services to meet basic needs for residents of Pasadena who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness.


Areta Crowell

PPC opposed the internment of Japanese Americans at the outbreak of World War II and supported their reintegration after the war.


PPC took part in implementing the end of restrictive covenants, which prevented black and other minorities from owning desirable real estate, and in desegregating the public swimming pools. PPC Pastor Eugene Carson Blake, who was instrumental in these efforts, went on to march and preach with Martin Luther King at the Washington Memorial on the occasion of the famous “I have a dream speech.”


Twice per week, on Sunday and Thursday evenings, the church serves warm, nutritious meals and has fellowship with neighbors who are experiencing homelessness and other survival challenges.


The church is now deeply involved with Making Housing and Community Happen to increase fair and affordable housing throughout the city.


The MHCH liaison for PPC is Dr. Areta Crowell, who is the Director Emeritus of the LA County Dept.  of Mental Health. Dr. Crowell was a leader in state and national mental health service and policy development and was an early pioneer of “Housing First” policies in Los Angeles County and San Diego County in the 1990s.


Dr. Crowell is an ordained Presbyterian elder and has been an active volunteer in the PCUSA at local, presbytery, synod, and national levels of the church.

Pasadena Mennonite Church

Liaison Representative: Bert Newton

Pasadena Mennonite Church began in the living room of Dorothy Smoker in 1988. The church has moved around since then to several locations and currently rents space from Pasadena Church of the Brethren at 1041 N. Altadena Dr. in Pasadena.

The church has a substantial history of advocacy for social justice and understands “peace and justice” as central to the Gospel.


Bert Newton

The church was a major sponsor and organizer of the Palm Sunday Peace Parade, an annual event to promote peace and social justice locally and around the world, for 15 years. Two members of the church founded and ran the Peace and Justice Academy, a middle and high school, from 2009 to 2015. The congregation is currently a member of LA Voice, a coalition of congregations organizing and advocating for justice on local, state and national levels. Additionally, the church supports Full Circle Thrift, a thrift store that raises money for peace and social justice, and Ten Thousand Villages Pasadena, a fair-trade store. The congregation also serves a monthly meal at the adult center of Union Station Homeless Services and participates in the annual Crop Walk for Hunger.

PMC has a twenty-year history of advocating for affordable and supportive housing through Making Housing and Community Happen.

Bert Newton is the Liaison for PMC. Newton has participated in the work of Making Housing and Community Happen for 20 years and was hired in August 2019 by MHCH to help build a network of congregations and other community groups and organizations to support the work.

Newton was an Associate Pastor at Pasadena Mennonite Church for seven years and continues to be recognized by that congregation as a Ministry Associate, representing the church in the community. Newton also worked for 15 years as a Housing Specialist and Case Manager in an intensive program for adults with severe mental illness who experience homelessness and incarceration. In this work, Newton has gained intimate knowledge of the barriers to housing encountered by this population, the various types of housing available them, as well as the lack of housing for them.