Project Update & Survey: Faith & Family Homelessness

Written by Hannah Crivello
September 29, 2014

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry?s Faith & Family Homelessness Project envisions a world where the cycle of family homelessness is broken through the creation of new relationships, platforms and models for successful faith-based response to the crisis. Through specially designed events, activities and tools the project offers people of faith the support they need to make family homelessness rare, brief and a one-time occurrence. We are always looking for new ways to inspire and support efforts in the community. We invite you to share your ideas through our short survey, which can be found here.
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This summer?s Best & Promising Practices in Faith-Based Solutions for Ending Family Homelessness was a success by all measures. More than 120 people joined us at Seattle University?s Student Center, representing a wide range of faith traditions, service providers and policymakers. The conversation was lively all evening, with ideas and business cards exchanged at a dizzying pace.
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The event, which was co-sponsored by the Church Council of Greater Seattle, included guest speakers from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Puyallup Church of the Nazarene's Wrap Up Ministry, Helping Hand House, Ronald United Methodist Church's Ronald Commons project, Compass Housing Alliance, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County, Snohomish Affordable Housing Group, Alki UCC's Covenant of Mutual Care, Temple Beth Am Homeless to Renter Program and Seattle's Union Gospel Mission.
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The evening?s work centered around four guiding questions: How do we unleash our capacity for deeper collaboration among congregation members, service providers and homeless families toward creating genuine solutions? What roles can congregations play in neighborhood efforts to confront and end homelessness? What does it mean to ?Take Care of Our Own?? How do congregations support efforts to make family homelessness rare, brief and a one-time occurrence?
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If you missed the event and want to catch up, you can access the materials shared during the evening our project blog.
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Save the Date! Join us at the next gathering, Sunday, December 7th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at Seattle University. We will continue the dialogue around the four guiding questions, and craft both short and long term solutions. Registration will open in early November. If you don?t receive our project updates on a regular basis, you can sign up here.

New Tools Available!

Want to inspire your congregation to get involved in efforts to end family homelessness? Our colleagues at Seattle University?s Project on Family Homelessness worked with local professional filmmaking teams to create four animated shorts addressing family homelessness.
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The films premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 19th, 2014, and tell the stories of real families? resilience through the extraordinarily trying experience of homelessness. These short films are perfect for all ages ? consider hosting a screening of one or more with your congregation, neighborhood group, book club? the opportunities are endless.? Of the four films, The Smiths is particularly relevant to congregations wanting to engage their members in addressing the issue of family homelessness. You can stream or download the films here, where you will also find great discussion guides to help encourage dialogue and action in your community.

In the News

Faith & Family Homelessness Project Site, All Saints Catholic Parish in Puyallup, was featured the Northwest Catholic online magazine. Read the article online, here. All Saints was one of 14 Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations participating in Seattle University?s Faith and Family Homelessness Project. Learn how All Saints used Catholic Social Teaching as a platform for their FFH project, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of parishioners advocating for just policies to end family homelessness.
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(Photo Right) Members of Puyallup?s All Saints Parish traveled to Catholic Advocacy Day in Olympia, where they asked legislators to streamline assistance programs and reduce the waiting time for homeless families to receive aid. Photo: Courtesy All Saints Parish

Out and About

We are inspired by the innovative tools and experiences local agencies use to educate, inspire and raise much needed resources. This summer, our partners at Helping Hand House in Puyallup raise the bar considerably with their newest community impact event. One Night in a Carwas a unique opportunity for participants to taste the reality lived by hundreds of kids across eastern Pierce County ? and the means to change it. The Project team spent the night too, helping to facilitate some of the small group exercises throughout the evening.
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The event was inspired by one family's recent experience of homelessness. To learn more about their story, read the blog post here. It's inspiring what one determined Mom can do when her children and grandchildren are put in harm?s way.

Meet Sheila Houston

Meet Sheila Houston, the newest member of the Faith & Family Homelessness team! Sheila is a Seattle native and lifelong advocate for vulnerable women and children. Sheila is currently studying at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry, pursuing her Doctor of Ministry. As a pastor and passionate advocate for vulnerable women and children, Shelia has been particularly involved in the anti-sex trafficking movement. She sees the need for pastors to preach an active faith and encourage their congregants to take initiative, finding solutions when they see a need in their neighborhood.
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In the video on our blog, Sheila speaks to what brought her to the school and its Faith & Family Homelessness Project, how she has experienced domestic violence and homelessness in her own life, and what she and other faith leaders can do to educate and engage their communities around social justice issues like family homelessness. We're thrilled to have Sheila on board!
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Sheila encourages people of faith to find where the need is and "begin to just do the work." She says, "As pastors, we need to continue to preach the Gospel about what we should be doing. . . not just being in the church and its four walls but [asking] how do we engage community."