Theme: Privilege and Gratitude
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Thank You for Your Support of Homeless/Affordable Housing!
We are extremely grateful for the generous response to our Giving Tuesday appeal. So far we've raised (BLANK) and our goal is to raise $200,000 per year. We couldn't do our housing justice work without donors, supporters and volunteers like you and the those described in this newsletter. This is a time when we need to come together and have a national conversation around racism.
That's why we're inviting you to join us this Tuesday night, June 21, at 7 pm for our Monthly Forum entitled "Racism and Housing." We will explore some key aspects of the history of racism and housing and present some solutions to address this problem.
Our presenters include Council member John Kennedy (shown above) as well as Dr. Jill Shook, author/editor of "Making Housing Happen, Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models."
You can access Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.For more info contact
“I looked pretty scary when I came to Pasadena,” Shawn Morrissey explained at a public event sponsored by MHCH. He had lived on the streets for over ten years. Because of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) he is now employed by Union Station as an articulate and effective advocate for PHS for cities in the San Gabriel Valley. We feel utterly privileged to have Shawn and many others on our Homeless Housing team, as you will learn more about in this letter.
According to Columbia University professor Dan O’Flaherty, the homeless population could increase by 45% in a year because of Covid 19 and its economic fallout (LA Times May 16, 2020). That means up to 250,000 new homeless neighbors in the US. That is staggering considering that we were already in a severe housing crisis with 60,000 people experiencing homelessness just in LA County.
This week Pasadena took a big step forward by approving 69 units of homeless senior housing at Heritage Square South and another 65 units of homeless housing at the Salvation Army Hope Center. This is the culmination of a campaign that has taken almost two years, with prayer vigils, 1,000+ letters and countless meetings. We are rejoicing!!
Making affordable and homeless housing happen requires the deep and persistent commitment of advocates and donors. We were deeply moved when a friend who’s a nurse practitioner employed to do “street medicine” with our homeless neighbors recently sent a generous donation of $900; and when a donor who is retired, legally blind and lives in an affordable housing complex made a $30 donation—a significant amount since he lives on social security. We feel so privileged and inspired by their generosity and belief in our work. Our goal is to raise $200,000 this year through donations and grants.
An anonymous donor has agreed to take his government check of $1,200 and match all donations up to that amount if received before June 30th. Your contributions support our staff and six subcommittees: Safe Parking (for people living in their vehicles to stay in church parking lots), Accessory Dwelling Units (aka ADUs or “granny flats”), Homeless Housing, North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative, Congregational Land Team and our emerging Community Land Trust (see www.makinghousinghappen.org).
Good News for our Congregational Land Committee
We recently received a $20,000 grant from a small family foundation for the second year in a row! This money will help pay our highly skilled professionals who have been donating their valuable time advising churches on using their excess land for affordable housing. Over 26 churches throughout LA County have expressed interest in partnering with our Congregational Land Committee. New Life Holiness, with 48 units has pitched their proposal to potential affordable housing development partners and another with the potential of over 100 units is close behind!
At a recent zoom meeting explaining our efforts to help churches build affordable housing on excess church land, Jill expressed what an honor and privilege it was to work with Pastor Othella, and she mouthed the words, “I love you” and blew a kiss. She treasures this moment, especially considering how she blundered seeking to build this relationship. God is a God of reconciliation.
Kudos to Our Amazing Volunteers: Cynthia, Sonja, Teresa, Areta
Cynthia Kirby lived on the street and in motels in East Pasadena for many years. Now she attends college and works as a church secretary at the First Baptist Church (where Jill and Anthony married). She has shared her moving story at our public meetings and has been advising us on which motels are most suitable for conversion to permanent supportive housing.
Teresa Eilers is a tireless organizer with Everyone In, a branch of the United Way. Like Shawn, she advocates for housing solutions in the San Gabriel Valley. What a joy to have her on our homeless housing team! (To learn more about stories of transformed lives like Shawn and Cynthia’s due permanent supportive housing, check out on Everyone In’s website see: https://everyoneinla.org/blog/2019/10/04/stories-from-the-frontline-mar-vista/)
Sonja Berndt, a retired DA Attorney, uses her considerable skills to do research, write letters and speak to elected officials. When she recently emailed a City Council member in Rosemead he was so impressed that he wanted to talk with her over the phone. Thanks to these efforts, Rosemead decided to support Project Roomkey (a state program which places homeless people in motels)
Areta Crowell, representing the First Presbyterian Church of Pasadena as a liaison to MHCH, is a retired director of homeless services in LA who cares deeply about ending homelessness.. She spends half of her year in Canada and half in Pasadena. She faithfully attends our monthly Zoom meetings from Ottawa providing valuable advice and support. We met her through a Bible study that was started by our friends Gloria and Ross Kinsler, who wrote an influential book—The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle for Life: An Invitation to Personal Ecclesial and Social Transformation
It is a privilege to work with such an amazing group of people—knowledgeable professionals as well as those who’ve turned their lives around thanks to affordable housing and the power of God’s grace.
Becoming Aware of White Privilege and Overcoming Racial Barriers
Today many are becoming more aware of “white privilege” and how those of us who are white unwittingly continue to use that privilege to exclude, as well as allow police to target Blacks in the case of George Floyd and so many others. In the past ten years several unarmed blacks have been killed in Pasadena by police. The history of land use and housing is the history of racism. Even though African Americans make up only 13% of the population, 40% are homeless. MHCH is committed to breaking down racial barriers through our close relationship with African American churches. What a deep privilege to work with this community through our North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative, chaired by Pastor John Stuart of the New Guiding Light Missionary Baptist Church.
The COVID pandemic has revealed racial and economic disparities we can no longer ignore. The safety of those who are privileged is bound up with who are most vulnerable. Jesus is all about erasing the lines between “us” and “them.” He turned the world upside down, putting the last first and the first last. He intentionally and consistency bought the outsider in—making them front and center: the demon-possessed, the widows, the sick, women, fishermen, Samaritans, and others thought unworthy of attention. There is no room for NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) among people of faith. We need to support affordable housing solutions… next door and even in back yards.
Pastor John Stuart, Chair of the North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative speaks out for housing justice at the Pasadena City Council
How We are Sheltering in Place
It is a privilege to be able to shelter in place. We are grateful for our home that we share with others. A formerly homeless man named Mark lives in our back house; we share weekly meals and Bible study, and daily discussions of what is happening in the world. We so appreciate his intellect and considerable skills as a handyman. Despite being home-bound, we work full-time and hold meetings, thanks to Zoom. We are blessed with an abundant garden that produces enough fruit and vegetables to share with neighbors (avocados, zapote, oranges, pluots, lettuce, tomatoes and more). Yet in the joy of abundance we also feel the loss of family and friends who have contracted or died of Covid-19.
As the lock down began, we redesigned Jill’s office with new desks where we love working together. We also look forward to the day when Jill’s assistant Morgan Duff Tucker can safely return (she now works via Zoom). We celebrated Anthony’s 71st birthday (via Zoom) and celebrated the 90th birthday of Jill’s Mom, Donna on May 31st and again on June 7th. Jill’s mom and Dad helped her with a down payment that enabled her to purchase our home. It’s located in a historically Black neighborhood, the only part of town where Blacks could live because of racial covenants and other unjust housing policies. We love our neighborhood. We thank God that Jill’s cancer infusions have been cancelled because she is doing so well. However, she is slowly recovering from a fractured ankle.
When we pray at meals, we thank God for all who have worked so hard doing essential services and provide us with food on our table. We don’t take for granted our privilege; it moves us to help others to have a home. We thank God for our team members and donors who support our housing justice efforts.
We’d love to hear how you are doing! Please feel free to contact us.