Three years ago, Bishop Rickel asked for volunteers invested in helping the unhoused to come together to find ways to involve all diocesan parishes in tackling this universal and vexatious issue. The Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness was the result. The Task Force has gathered information locally and nationally, analyzed best practices, talked to countless people who want to get things done, have advised representatives in Olympia, and presented to Convention. All this comes from a commitment to our Baptismal Covenant. And the investment is reassured by the belief that faith communities can and should do much to help others.
In 2019 at our presentation to Convention, a lot of data was cited about the boundaries and causes of homelessness. No savings. 37% of Washington State neighbors are unable to afford current housing costs. Four out of five jobs in our state provide too little to stay out of the financial margins. An estimated 30-40% of all the unhoused have some kind of mental challenge.
Beloved peoples, this concern has gotten worse with COVID!
What to do: Educate ourselves and our neighbors. Advocate. Work together. Have a plan of action. Our voices and our votes count – individually and collectively.
Now the Task Force is a permanent committee, moving forward in outreach to all parishes to see what can be done short and long-term. From doing the simple things like providing food and clothing to the complicated actions of advocating for and providing interim housing and permanent affordable housing.
The Task Force is sharing what is being done around the diocese. The Task Force should be your connection, to put you in touch with other leaders in this work, and with organizations local to you.
Recognizing what parishes are doing now and what they have been doing is a big emphasis on our current and future actions.
So faithful ones, please read, share and decide what else can be done. Contact Don Fornoff at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you!