Hunger and Homelessness Sunday is November 20!
Millions of Americans are homeless, and many more are unstable and have inadequate housing. Even worse, instead of working to ensure access to more housing, cities across the country are increasingly subjecting homeless and poor people—who are disproportionately people of color—to criminal punishment, fines and fees based on this status. Human rights tribunals have decried this criminalization—and homelessness itself—as a human rights violation.
The PC(USA) is very concerned and joins with people and groups across the U.S. in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, November 12-20. This is a time to highlight the challenge of homelessness. As we approach Thanksgiving and give gratitude for those with a roof over their head, we challenge you to raise up this crisis in worship on November 20, Hunger and Homelessness Sunday. Lectionary reflections, a bulletin insert and children’s sermon and prayer are available. More resources can be found below.
Let us build awareness, pray for those without homes, and take action! Learn about homelessness in your area and advocate fairer wages so people can afford decent housing. You can also join a new national campaign to stop the criminalization of homelessness, which will launch on November 15; you can endorse this Campaign for Housing Not Handcuffs as an individual or as a congregation or organization.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Homelessness
Many Presbyterian congregations across the U.S. run their own homelessness ministries or provide volunteers and funding for nearby shelters. Spurred by the biblical call to house the homeless and the church’s strong social witness policy on the issue, PC(USA) has worked to address homelessness through support for shelters, transitional housing, social service programs and the provision of/advocacy around affordable housing.
PC(USA) designates the Sunday before Thanksgiving as Hunger and Homelessness Sunday. This coincides with the National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, the week preceding the holiday. A bulletin insert is available.
The Presbyterian Network to End Homelessness (PNTEH) ― a national organization of Presbyterians focusing on how they can alleviate homelessness ― has created a handbook to aid congregations in observing Homelessness and Affordable Housing Sunday and to stimulate ideas leading to action to aid the homeless and encourage communities to create more housing.
Homelessness Partners and Grantees of the Presbyterian Hunger Program
The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission: To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.
Community of the BeLoved – Our mission is to be a center that creates community focused on loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. We believe that love acts. So for us love is a gathering space where people grow and heal while discovering and sharing their gifts and where people help and empower each other in a safe environment.
Generating Hope-Noah’s Ark Homeless Shelter – Noah’s Ark is the only emergency overnight shelter and multi-service drop-in center for chronic homeless and individuals/families at risk on the Yakama Indian Reservation and in Yakima’s lower valley. The shelter provides culturally appropriate and locally grown food to residents. This also strengthens the local food economy and draws upon the cultural resources of the area to become a blessing of God’s creation for all.
DuPage United is a Congregation-Based Community Organizing (CBCO) that addresses the gaps and obstacles to help those who are under- and unemployed to fill existing good paying jobs, which will allow those who are homeless/near homeless to afford more permanent housing.
Washington Interfaith Network is a Congregation-Based Community Organizing (CBCO) whose work has resulted in the rehabbing and protection of over 500 affordable apartments from being torn down or converted to condos, and over 2000 other affordable rentals have been constructed. WIN also helped win the fight for DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund with $452 million allocated over the past two decades for affordable housing.
Congregational Based Community Organizing
Congregational Based Community Organizing (CBCO) is another component of PHP’s work that works to address homelessness, primarily through organizing efforts for affordable housing.
CBCO is a strategy for rebuilding communities, revitalizing congregations, and developing individuals into effective leaders and change agents. There are more than 180 congregational-based community organizations across the country, and through a percentage of OGHS funds, PHP has provided funding for most of them, either in the start up phase or in their on-going efforts with affordable housing and homelessness. These organizations provide a vehicle for churches, schools, unions, and non-profit organizations to carry their concerns and values into public life, as they create policy and hold those in power accountable for their decisions.
Homelessness Resources and Links
Bulletin Insert—What would the advertisement for your home look like?
Hunger and Homelessness—many are homeless and millions hungry, but there are some things you can do to help. Post this on the bulletin board or share with your missions committee.
Homelessness and Affordable Housing Sunday Resource Packet
What is the role of the church in assisting the effort to end homelessness? Our denomination has for years selected the first Sunday in August to highlight homelessness and the need/opportunity to create more affordable housing. Note: As of December 2015, a revision of this resource is underway.
From Homelessness to Hope: Constructing Just, Sustainable Communities for All God’s People
This report reaffirms the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s historical witness that universal access to safe, descent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing is a measure and a sign of the coming Reign of God. Approved by the 2008 General Assembly, the report urges Presbyterians to work in partnership with governmental and private sectors to change or reform housing practices that contribute to persons being homeless or at risk.
Stories on Homelessness
Congregation, Partners Seek to Meet Multifaceted Needs of the Homeless—from the Mission Yearbook June 28, 2016
Presbyterian artist illustrates the plight of the homeless on canvas: Artist and PHP Advisory Committee member, Lucy Janjigian, brings her work to the Office of Public Witness