Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 29 homelessness is building trusting relationships with those you are trying to help. The faith community has long been doing this, walking non-judgmentally along with the soci- ety's marginalized," Wilcox said. To equip churches in this kairos moment, the Presbytery of the Pacific, in partnership with Quigley, Dunn and Wilcox, is gathering churches monthly to train others in how to connect people who are living on the streets with housing and sup- portive services. The effort is called the Homelessness and Housing Task Force. Dunn describes the task force as "a place for the local church to band together and challenge one another to thoughtfully and courageously join the fight to end homelessness." "Our goal is to increase the number of church leaders who can holistically care for and tangibly love the homeless," he said. "The city and county of Los Angeles are resourc- ing programs designed to house the homeless at an unprecedented level, and as the people of God, we are called to seek the good of our cities, learn what is already working in this fight and mobilize our congregations Lighthouse in the 1990s. The Lord's Lighthouse continues serving lunch to a few hundred people after church each Sunday, sharing the gospel and building relationships, walking alongside their homeless guests with prayer, friendship and helpful resources. In 2003, First Hollywood added a weekday meal and program called the Hollywood Healthcare Partnership, bringing together the department of mental health and social service providers to more fully help homeless guests. The partnership has allowed the church to develop relationships with social service providers in the area to work together to move people into housing. St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Redondo Beach, California, has also been serving hot lunches twice a week for more than 20 years and offering clothing, resources, a sermon and caring relationships with people experiencing homelessness. Over the past several years, St. Andrew's has also been moving people into perma- nent supportive housing, in partner- ship with a social service provider. Worship on a Sunday morning at St. Andrew's now consists of praise reports of how many people have been housed, in addition to a list of current needs for the food ministry. The Rev. Peter Dunn, co-pastor, also emphasizes the many disciple- ship opportunities in this ministry. "Work with a youth to disciple them in this way; maybe they can become inspired to become a case manager for the homeless one day," Dunn said. Homeless crisis grows Church ministries that focus on housing are urgently needed in Los Angeles County, which has long been labeled the "Homeless Capital of the United States." In 2017, roughly 58,000 people experienced homeless- ness in the county, an increase of 75 percent since 2012. A severe housing shortage has driven up rental costs to extreme levels, pushing increasing numbers of people in poverty onto the streets. The average rent has increased 32 percent, while average household incomes have fallen by 3 percent in the past two decades. To address this crisis, service pro- viders, city and county officials and faith leaders have successfully advo- cated for the passage of Measures H and HHH, voter-approved taxes that will provide $4.6 billion for permanent supportive housing units. Permanent supportive housing combines supportive services with affordable rental housing. Because of this, there is a new appreciation for the role of the faith community as a key partner in moving people off the streets into housing in the city and county of Los Angeles. Nancy Wilcox, an elder at St. Peter's by the Sea Presbyterian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, co-chairs one of the eight regional homeless coalitions in Los Angeles County and describes a renewed acknowledgment among civic leaders. "On the streets, you can ask any homeless outreach specialist and they will tell you the key to ending COURTESY OF ST. ANDREW'S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH The Rev. Peter Dunn, right, co-pastor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, sees lives being changed by The Refuge, a ministry that not only provides a place to rest, but also seeks to secure permanent housing for those like Michael, left.

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