DCEH Task Force

45 days or bust!

Eight DCEH representatives met to clarify the work of the DCEH, taking what was learned from the first three years of DCEH. Over four, one and a half hour meetings, we asked deeper questions about our vision as an organization, the core of our mission, what is realistic for us to accomplish, and clarifying the structure to make that happen.

Imam Makram El-Amin of Masjid An-Nur, Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen of Westminster Presbyterian, Rolf Lowenberg-DeBoer from Central Lutheran, Rev. Dr. Jeff Sartain from Plymouth Congregational, Rabbi Sim Glaser from Temple Israel, Janice Andersen from the Basilica of Saint Mary, Rev. Doug Mitchell from Westminster Presbyterian, and Debby Magnuson from First Unitarian Society, were the eight dedicated people who delved deeper into the these questions.  Below is what the Task Force established for the DCEH as we move forward.  In the next month, we will develop our strategy of how to move forward our vision, mission and work into 2013 and beyond. 

Who We Are: As a faith partner of Heading Home Hennepin, we represent 16 congregations creating an interfaith community to support the work of ending homelessness in Minneapolis

Vision:  Everyone has access to decent, safe, and affordable housing in Minneapolis

Mission: To engage our congregations and communities in the work of ending homelessness

Values:

  • Every person has inherent dignity
  • Housing is a Human Right
  • Our commitment to the common good requires us to take action to end homelessness
  • Interfaith collaboration

Our Work:  

  • Inspire: Call people to take action based on religious values
  • Educate: Strengthen awareness of the issues of homelessness and appropriate solutions
  • Advocate: Build the public will for policy change
  • Serve: Coordinate delivery of services among congregations.

DCEH Member Congregations:

  • Commit themselves to being an active partner, in full support of the mission, vision, and values of DCEH has defined above.
  • Select a representative to participate as an active member of the Steering Committee (church staff are ideal, but in lieu of staff an established lay member may be selected)
  • Select a representative to participate as an active member of the Interfaith Action Team (an established lay member is ideal)
  • Contribute time and money commensurate with the congregations’ ability, size, and annual budget
  • Create opportunities within their congregation for carrying out the DCEH strategize goals
  • Receive dedicated DCEH staff time

Advisory Seat of the DCEH

Is from the Office to End Homelessness, is a nonvoting member of the Steering Committee, to provide direct connection and communication from the Heading Home Hennepin Initiative.

DCEH Network:

Community partners include congregations and organizations that are actively engaged in the work of ending homelessness and which collaborate as partners with DCEH to carry out the DCEH vision and mission, defined above. Some community partners include: Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, St. Stephen’s Community Engagement, etc. The role of the DCEH Network is to provide consultation to our strategic work and provide us updates and information regarding their perspective of ending homelessness in the community. To fulfill this role, partners may be contacted individually for consultation, invited to Steering Committee meetings or a separate partner meeting, etc.

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Housing IS An Election Issue

What You Can Do

Ask Candidates About Housing.

Hang this flyer on your door knob or near your phone. Ask the questions on the other side when a candidate (or their representative) calls, knocks on your door, or attends a forum.

VOTE! Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Questions to Ask Candidates

1. The Metropolitan Council predicts that the Twin Cities region will need an additional 50,000 units of affordable housing by 2020. Where does housing fall on your list of priorities?

2. Full-time low-wage workers can’t afford housing in this community. What are your thoughts about that?

3. Homelessness in Minnesota has quadrupled in the last 20 years. What are your thoughts?

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Sabbath to End Homelessness Guide

Guide – Working Draft

Sabbath to End Homelessness

Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness

Fall 2012

Introduction

We are so excited for the 4th Annual Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH)! The Sabbath will be observed during the week of Friday, November 9th-Sunday, November 18th. We ask that your congregation determine at a specific date within that week and begin to plan your observance of the STEH.

The first Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH) was held in November 2009, when DCEH was little more than a year old. Numerous DCEH-member congregations participated, and Interfaith Team members brainstormed how their congregations could mark this event. DCEH consolidated a list of ideas and distributed the list to team members to help them organize activities within their own congregations. The event was considered a success, and it was decided the event should occur again in 2010, 2011, and now 2012.

Homelessness cannot be eliminated in one week, but it is a way to harness energy, gather people, and keep the movement growing!

Purpose of this Guide

With the experience of the last three years to draw on, DCEH has prepared this more detailed guide that can help congregations shape their 2012 STEH efforts. This is a tool and list of resources to help you prepare plans and engage other members of your faith community in your planning. In evaluations collected after the 2009 event, one word to the wise was clear: “the advance work and planning makes a huge difference in the outcome.” We hope this helps get your planning under way for 2012.

No Set Theme for Sabbath for Ending Homelessness

Over the last three years, we have had a theme that anchors the Sabbath. This year, we made the decision as an Interfaith Team to have no main theme used across congregations based on that the Sabbath to End Homelessness is used as a title.

What is Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH), and what are its goals?

Sabbath to End Homelessness (STEH) is an initiative of the member congregations of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. It is an opportunity for member congregations to set aside time in November to educate members about homelessness issues, how their faith speaks to the issue, and what can be done.

Ideally member congregations will try to reach members through a variety of means: collaboration with other groups within the congregation, newsletters, emails, posters, forums, sermons, skits and inclusion of the issue in worship services. Individuals learn differently and offering the same message in a variety of ways is likely to increase the likelihood of success.

In 2012, the collective goals of STEH are to

  1. Continue to heightening awareness of DCEH,
  2. Build base (community) around the issue of homelessness, giving the sense of each congregation member as part of this collaboration; and
  3. Educate and invite people to take action
  • Why it’s important to end homelessness, what homelessness looks like currently
  • What progress has been made and this is long term work
  • Where we go from here/opportunities ahead/how to be involved for seeking justice

Congregations are asked to report back to DCEH on the results of their efforts, evaluating success within the perspective of each particular congregation. Each congregation may want to determine in advance how it will we measure the success of its efforts: What will determine success? What measurable objectives can it set?

Some examples of measureable objectives for your congregations are:

  • Each congregation has ___ educational opportunities for adults, youth, and kids; to heighten the awareness and educate congregations.
  • Acknowledges the Sabbath in worship through sermon, prayers, liturgy, and announcements (heighten awareness and building the base).
  • Provide further steps for continued involvement, including participation in Legislative and City processes (Building the base)
    • Recruit ___ of advocates, update and engage Advocates with the advocacy card, Take Five Table, through bulletin/newsletter announcements.  Update list of advocates.
    • Provide activities on the day of the Sabbath observance to engage members (Educate and Invite People to Action).

Worship, Liturgical and Faith/Denomination-Specific Ideas

The STEH team has reviewed existing materials and provided sample liturgical and denominational ideas for DCEH Interfaith team members to draw on as they plan their STEH 2012. Additional worship ideas are included at the end of the document as Appendix A.

Use or Adapt Prayers, Liturgy, etc.

            See Appendix

Sermon Topics and Sacred Texts

  • JEWISH, Passages from the Torah or Talmud

Proverbs 31: 8-9

Speak up for [those unable to speak], for the rights of all the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and needy.

Isaiah 32:17

And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the result of righteousness shall be quietness and confidence forever.

Exodus 2:23-25

God hears the cry of the destitute homeless

Exodus 3:1-12

God hears, sees, and knows human suffering, especially that caused economic exploitation. God’s will is for slavery and oppression to end and for Creation’s gifts to be shared by all.

  • MUSLIM

Qur’an 57:25

Which translates to: “We sent aforetime our apostles with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that they may stand forth in justice.”

Qur’an 5:8

Which translates to: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to justice, and let not the hatred of others to you make swerve to wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

  • CHRISTIAN

Ruth 1, 4 – Story of two homeless women. How does this story of Ruth and Naomi relate to homelessness and give us insight?

Mark 1:29-34; 2:1-12 – two stories that involve houses. What are our housing needs? What does it look like to have them met? What would it take? What happens when we don’t have a house? Who needs a house?

Mark 12: 38-44 (November 11th Text) – Helping those in need, doing something constructive with all of our resources, working for justice, not just our money, might be a better way to embody this text than simply filling our a donation card.

Mark 13:1-8 (November 18th Text) – Amassing physical items of this world is not what is important, but the importance

  • ALL FAITHS

Invite Guest Speakers/Preachers

See Speakers under Educational Forums

Have a Special Time with Children

  • Read one of the children’s books
  • Relate Sacred text with theme
  • Ask the children what they think of when they think of home

Bulletin Inserts and Index Cards

  • Provide a 3×5 index card to congregants in the bulletin, at the door into worship, etc.  Ask congregants during

Select Songs that focus on Justice and answering a call to protect people who are homeless/vulnerable.

Recognize programs that address homelessness within your congregation/people who work in social services/people speaking up in our political process/other

Use bulletin covers that emphasize the STEH, homelessness, justice, or related content

Educational Ideas

Education is key to engaging people in ending homelessness. Congregations are advised to extend STEH efforts beyond one specific Sabbath. There may, for example, be opportunities to hold a number of activities leading up to or beyond the Sabbath. Encourage as many people as possible in your congregation to get involved in planning or attending one of the events.

The committee encourages congregations to plan activities that reflect that there are two important parts to social service: advocacy and direct service. We need them both.

Below, ideas from 2009 have been supplemented with ideas from subsequent years

Speakers/Forums

  • Plymouth Neighborhood Foundation – Michael Dahl, Allison Johnson, Lee Blons
  • YouthLink – Frances Roen, Heather Huseby
  • Steve Carlson, Spectrum Homeless Project, 612-752-8208, speaks on the history of homelessness. Why are things the way they are now?
  • Currie Avenue Partnership. Why has it been successful? Why have businesses been willing to get involved? What does it mean to business?
  • Avenues for Homeless Youth – Minneapolis Host Home Program, Deena McKinney, Deb Loon
  • Clients/People experiencing homelessness from: Youthlink, Dignity Center, Lutheran Social Service, St. Mark’s, The Basilica of Saint Mary, Central Lutheran, etc.
  • Legislators/Public Officials who are housing/poverty advocates – Sen. John Marty, Rep. Karen Clark, Rep. Morrie Lanning, Rep. Larry Howes, Mayor RT Rybak, Commissioner Gail Dorfman.
  • Heading Home Hennepin – Cathy ten Broeke,
  • Consultant to the State of MN on Youth Homelessness – Beth Holger-Ambrose, Beth.Holger-Ambrose@state.mn.us. Phone 651-431-3823.
  • Simpson Housing Services – Christina Giese
  • St. Stephen’s Human Services (and Outreach) – Mikkel Beckman, Monica Nilsson, etc.
  • Community Emergency Services – Karen DeClouet
  • Lutheran Social Service – Changing Lives Center
  • Minneapolis Public Schools Homeless Liaison Program – Zib Hinz
  • Our Savior’s Shelter- Colleen O’Connor Toberman
  • Simpson Housing Services – Brian Bozeman, Steve Horsfield
  • Youth Moving Forward – Kirsten Anderson-Stembridge
  • Ascension Place – Julia Welle Aires
  • Education on financial benefits for ending homelessness, partnering with police, etc.
  • Youth from congregations who participated in Night on the Street w/ PCNF
  • Art exhibit: Homelessness is My Address, Not my Name, contact St. Stephen’s Human Services
  • Julia Dinsmore, homeless poet

Educational Resources provide a reading/viewing list, create a book group, use during adult, youth, or children’s education:

    • Books for adults:
      • Disrupting Homelessness: An Alternative Christian Approach, by Laura Stivers. Disrupting Homelessness unmasks the futile assumptions of our present approaches to homelessness and suggests ways in which Christians and Christian communities can create a prophetic social movement to end poverty and homelessness.
      • Think and Act Anew: How Poverty in America Affects Us All and What We Can Do About It by Fr. Larry Snyder
        Fr. Larry is President of Catholic Charities USA and oversees its work to reduce poverty in America. This small book provides an opportunity to think and act anew in dealing with the thousand-of-years-old problem of entrenched poverty. The faces of the poor are described through stories of those who have sought Catholic Charities services. Fr. Snyder draws on Catholic social teaching that firmly establishes the dignity of the human being, and the connection between charity and justice as the core principles for engaging our faith.
      • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. A journalist looks for work as a cleaner or waitress in various American cities, and lives off her wages.
      • The Child Poverty and Inequality: Securing a Better Future for America’s Children, by Duncan Lindsey. A history of economic and family policy from the Great Depression and the development of Social Security, followed by several viable universal income security policies for vulnerable children and families that aim not just to reduce child poverty, but also to give all children meaningful economic opportunity.
      • Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America, by Ronald J. Sider. A review of the socioeconomic data available on the extent and impact of poverty in America from both a liberal and a conservative perspective. Believing that, faithfully interpreted and lived, the Scriptures can provide the vision and motivation needed to reduce poverty dramatically; he spells out a set of proposals for a social policy that works toward that goal.
      • American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare, by Jason DeParle. Tracing the lives of three women and their children as legislative changes are pushed through Washington and the state of Wisconsin.
      • A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne. People in poverty face challenges from both obvious and hidden sources. Ruby Payne provides practical, real-world support and guidance to relating with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
      • Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream, by John Edwards, Marion Crain, and Arne L. Kalleberg. Ending Poverty in America explains why poverty is growing and outline concrete steps that can be taken now to start turning the tide.
      • The Poverty and Justice Bible. Almost every page of the Bible speaks of God’s heart for the poor. Using the clear Contemporary English Version (CEV) text, The Poverty and Justice Bible highlights more than 2,000 verses that spell out God’s attitude to poverty and justice.
      • Poverty in America: A Handbook, by John Iceland. John Iceland provides a comprehensive picture of poverty in America, how it has changed over time, as well as how public policies have grappled with poverty as a political issue and an economic reality.
      • The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler. The Working Poor examines the “forgotten America” where “millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight between poverty and well-being.”
      • Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, by Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia. Eleven-year-old Lisa is her mother’s primary support when they face the prospect of homelessness.
      • Street Verses: Poems by the Homeless Writers and Vendors of Street Sense by Street Sense.
    • Books for Children
      • Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. [ages 4-8]
      • The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, Garth Williams [ages 9-12]
      • A Rose for Abby by Donna Guthrie, Dennis Hockerman [ages 4-8]
      • Someplace to Go by Maria Testa, Karen Ritz [ages 4-8]
      • Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan [ages 4-8]
      • Changing Places: A Kid’s View of Shelter Living by Margie Chalofsky, Glen Finland [ages 9-12]
      • Rosie, the Shopping Cart Lady by Chia Martin, Jewel Hernandez [ages 4-8]
      • Mommy, Are We Homeless? by Jerrilyn Johnson
      • A Kid’s Guide to Hunger & Homelessness: How to Take Action by Cathryn B. Kaye
      • Soul Moon Soup by Lindsay Lee Johnson
      • Our Wish by Ralph da Costa Nunez
      • Voyage to Shelter Cove by Ralph da Costa Nunez
      • Cooper’s Tale by Ralph da Costa Nunez
      • A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning
      • Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
      • The Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
      • Slake’s Limbo by Felice Holman
      • Monkey Island by Paula Fox

Communication

  • Newsletter articles
  • Bulletin announcement
  • Posters for church bulletin boards

Involving Children, Teens and Young Adults

  • Find out more about and promote Night on the Street (held previously at Plymouth Congregational in April each year. www.nightonthestreet.org
  • Coordinate efforts with your congregation’s children, teen and young adult programs to involve them in what’s being done or create special programs that involve them in different ways. How can they help?
  • Have the Sabbath’s children’s sermon focus on the issue of homelessness, helping children to understand what it means and what everyone can do to help.
  • Provide opportunities for the Children’s Education (i.e. Sunday School, Confirmation) to participate in the Sabbath.

Activity Ideas

Advocacy

  • Offering of Letters during the worship service
    • Provide information on Homelessness and a sample letter, collect, and show the gathered letters. Say a prayer for our elected officials and send them off.
  • Offer letters at the Take Five Table

Hands On Service

  • Make hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness
  • Provide volunteer opportunities at the Take Five Table
    • DCEH Bike Program Repair Volunteers, Contact Heidi
    • Overnight Shelter Volunteers

Raise funding or donations

  • For DCEH
  • For another service organization
  • Gather items at your Sabbath to donate to local single, family, or youth homeless shelter or to a food shelf
  • Designate one day for community members to skip a meal. Instead of purchasing food for that meal, donate that money to an organization.
  • Sponsor a Gallery night to sell artwork created by people who have or are homeless.

Engagement in Future Opportunities

Pledge/Commitment Card/Opportunity Card

  • Half-sheet pledge for congregational members
    • offer opportunities for them to be able to live out their pledge through advocacy, education, volunteering (see Take Five Table Toolkit)
  • Dedication during worship services (committed members stand up to be recognized, invite other members to make the commitment)

Take Five Table with information

  • Written pledge with commitment and contact information to gather names and emails (in bulletin/program handout)
  • Map showing location of congregations
  • Information about Legislative Session 2013 and City of Minneapolis Budget (to come out in early November
  • Stories/Connection to local community developments
  • Educational information

 

APPENDIX A

Additional Liturgical Resources

PRAYERS

Our Creator, The Lord of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad,

You have placed on us a responsibility to care for our neighbors, to seek out justice, an obligation to defend all that is weak, protect all that is innocent, to safeguard all that is fragile, and to cherish all that is precious. Keep us hearts and minds focused on the importance of ensuring all people have a place to live.

O beloved God (Allah),

Give us the openness and sight to see beyond the stereotypes of who is homeless, to hear the stories of youth, of families with all ages of children, and of single adults. Remind us that the visible image of homelessness is not the full reality, but daily teens, children, and parents are struggling to find housing and keep it.

We pray for our community, that people struggling can come to know a place of stability and find support needed. May your presence be known to people who find themselves without a place to live.

Give us courage to speak out and stand up for a better community that reflects your hope for the world. Give us inspiration to not be defeated if more people become homeless, but give us the steadfastness to work creatively and diligently to ensure that your creation is cared for.

May our words, actions, meditations and more be acceptable to you, oh, beloved God.

 

(Before the prayers, pass baskets containing Band-Aids, pennies, a can of food, toothbrush, or other items)

 

Oh, holy God, the challenges and barriers facing people with out a home or on the verse of homelessness can be so overwhelming and abstract. Help us to remember that the needs and prayers of each person are as real and individual as the item in our hand.

Holding up the item:

And so we pray this day for the children, for the youth, for the adults, for the families that are staying in shelter, staying on a family member’s couch, living under a bridge or in an abandoned building. We pray for the service providers, who provide basic needs and those who need these items. May they find the resources they need.

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: God is great in our Land

God is supreme over all the peoples

Let everyone praise your great and awesome name.

People: Holy is God!

Leader: Mighty Rule, lover of justice, you have established fairness;

You have done justice and goodness in those who have gone before.

People: Holy is God!

Leader: Praise our God;

Worship before God’s throne

People: Holy is God!

 

Congregation Responses in Bold

 

God did not call us to succeed,

God called us to serve. 

God did not call us to win,

God called us to work.

God did not call us to live long,

God called us to live for God.

God did not call us to be happy,

God called us to be hopeful.

God did not call us to fame,

God called us to faith.

 

CLOSING AND BLESSING

Go forth from this place to pursue justice,

Go forth from this place to protect all people.

Draw strength from each other;

Draw strength from your faith.

And may the blessing of the Holy surround and sustain you and every person you meet,

This day and forever more.

 

Recognition/Dedication of DCEH Congregations

Leader: O Healer of the World, we ask your blessing on all of our congregants here today as together we seek to live out our faith. We ask for courage and wisdom to be civic participants in our community and take action to ensure housing stability and end homelessness.

All: We hold as sacred all the work we and others have done to secure housing for all people because everyone deserves a place to call home.

Leader:        Help us all to see and share the needs and worth of people living without housing.

All:   We are compelled by our sense of the human family and by the divine dignity in each person to speak out for all who have been denied justice.

Leader:        Be with each of us as we pursue, in faith, an end to homelessness and poverty.

All:   We prayerfully live out our faith by speaking out on behalf of the needs of all your people, especially your people without housing.

All:  Bless us as we go forth, together with 15 other downtown congregations, to work to ensure all people in our community will thrive. Give us the gift of anger at injustice, the gift of courage to be a voice for the voiceless, the gift of compassion for those in our community who are the most vulnerable, the gift of sustaining hope that hearts will not grow hard, and the gift of confidence that in caring for the stranger and the wounded that we are serving you.  Amen.

___________ joins 15 other downtown congregations in blessing those who will advocate at a city, county, and state level ensure access to stable housing for all, which will end homelessness.

 

 

Information and Resources compiled in this document include:

From National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths Manual, http://tinyurl.com/8rohcje

Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week Manual, http://tinyurl.com/ykvcfy4

            More information can be found in each of these manuals.

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Immediate Action: Join us at JRLC Day on the Hill

IMMEDIATE ACTION:  Attend the JRLC Day on the Hill to advocate for Affordable Housing and Protect Welfare to Work (MFIP)

The Opportunity:  Interfaith Advocacy for Social Justice

JRLC’s annual Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for each of you to speak up on major public policy issues facing the Minnesota Legislature and to speak with your elected officials about these issues.

March 20th, 2012, 8:30pm-4:00pm

RiverCenter, St. Paul

 There is same day registration available and the registration fee will be $45.00.

 This year’s Keynote speaker will be the Rev. Alika Galloway!  This year’s theme, And What Does God require? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 17-18) gives us guidance in these troubled times about how to work as faithful citizens to bring about justice for all.  Join around 1,000 people to make your values and commitments clear to your representatives.

Two of the issues related to Day on the Hill directly relate to the advocacy work of DCEH.

  • Secure, Affordable Housing

There will be information calling on the restoration of $2.9 million that was cut from the Long-Term Homeless Support Services Fund and there will be support for $40 million in bonding funds (SF2073/HF2485).

  • Welfare to Work

There will also be a briefing on the need to protect the safety net from Welfare 2.0 legislation and on strategies for ending poverty.  Call your legislators to see if they already have a JRLC appointment set up, and if not, make your own appointment to see them.

Tentative Schedule

RiverCentre, 7th St. and Kellogg Ave, downtown St. Paul

8:30 Gathering, Registration, Breakfast

8:55 Welcome, Opening Prayer, About the Day

9:30 Keynote Speaker, Rev. Alika P. Galloway, Kwanzaa Community Church, Minneapolis

10:00 Issue Briefings Brian Rusche, JRLC and Marie Reigstad, Catholic Charities Office for Social Justice

10:30 District Table Discussion, Alison Killeen, JRLC, and District Leaders

11:15 Bus to the Capitol

Rotunda and State Capital Complex

11:45 2011 Interfaith Social Justice Awards

  • iCAN Key Advocate of 2012 Award
  • 2012 Interfaith Social Justice Community Award
  • 2012 Lawrence D. Gibson Interfaith Social Justice Award

12:15 A Prayer for Justice

Afternoon Meetings with your legislators in Capitol or State Office Building

2:00 iCAN Key Advocate Caucus

3:15 Closing Action and Prayer

Drop off debriefing sheets and evaluation form and recycle name tags at front door of Capitol

4:00 Last shuttle back to RiverCentre

Shuttle Service: 17 school buses will begin departing RiverCentre at 11:15 to get all of us to the Capitol by 11:45. Look for the JRLC sign in the bus window. Two school buses will regularly shuttle between the front entrance of the Capitol and RiverCentre starting at 1:00 pm and the last shuttle departs from the Capitol at 4:00 pm.

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Immediate Action: Contact your Legislators Asking them to Reject Cuts to MFIP

IMMEDIATE ACTION: Contact Your Legislators

Asking Them to Reject Cuts to MFIP

The Message:  Please reject cuts to MFIP assistance (Minnesota’s Welfare to Work) for families with children.

Talking Points:

  • 7 out of 10 recipients of the Minnesota Family Investment Program are children.
  • Several Legislative “reform” proposals will put more children at risk of homelessness and hunger.
  • These proposals will gut the social safety net for families in Minnesota.
  • This is not the “reform” Minnesotans want.  This is not the “reform” our children deserve.

Whom to Contact:

Contact your Legislators asking them to support Funding for Housing in the Bonding Bill. To find your legislator, go to http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/

Let us know who you contacted after you call these legislators! Please take one minute and take this one question survey so we are able to track who was contacted.   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NWQL9PG

Background:

2012 Welfare Reform Proposals:
Taking Shelter and Food Away from Minnesota Children

These proposals take us off the path toward ending homelessness and poverty in Minnesota. Rather, these proposals will push more children and familiesy into deep poverty and will intensify Hunger and Homelessness across Minnesota.

  • 7 out of 10 people receiving assistance in the Minnesota Family Investment Program are children; half under the age of 5
  • 3,900 children are homeless each night in Minnesota; one half of those served at food shelves are children
  • Minnesota’s poverty rate has increased 62% in the past 10 years, greatly outpacing the predicted impact of the current economic situation

What these proposals will do:

  • Significantly reduces the amount of time a family can receive assistance through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) – the bill replaces the 60-month lifetime limit with 36 months
  • Lowers the exit level from 115% FPG to 100% FPG (the FPG for a family of four is approximately $22,000)
  • Disqualifies a person convicted of a drug offense within the last ten years from receiving assistance
  • Requires applicants to pay for a criminal background check to determine if they have been convicted of a drug offense (if the applicant is found to be eligible, they will be reimbursed for the background check)
  • Decreases the number of sanctions, from seven to three, that lead to a family losing MFIP assistance

The consequences of these proposals:

  • Increase the growing number of homeless and hungry children in Minnesota.
  • Increase government spending while removing support to Minnesota families most in need.
  • Disproportionately harm communities of color due to disparities in the criminal justice system.
  • Increase risk for women and children in domestic violence situations.
  • Destabilize families.
  • Use scarce human services dollars to criminalize families in poverty.
  • Introduce unconstitutional practices that will violate civil rights and civil liberties and may invite litigation against the State of Minnesota.
  • Reduce the likelihood people will seek much needed assistance for themselves and their families and rely.
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Thank the Authors of the Housing Bonding Bill!

IMMEDIATE ACTION:  Thank the Authors of the Housing Bonding Bill and Tell your Legislators to Support the Housing Bonding Bill!

The Message:  Invest in our communities with funding for housing in the 2012 Bonding Bill. This bill will place important investments in affordable housing. These investments will stabilize the housing market, create jobs and provide families with access to healthy and affordable homes, which all help to boost our state’s economy.

Talking Points:

  • Affordable Housing for people with lower incomes was a need prior to the recession. We continue to need housing stock in our community that is affordable. Funding in the bonding bill will begin to address the gaps in the community.
  • Research has shown that housing stability lowers costs of health care and improves education of children. Housing is important for the future of our community!
  • Housing construction and rehabilitation funding will provide needed jobs for Minnesotans.   
  • With vacancy rates low and apartment rents high, families, youth and individuals in our community need affordable housing options to end their homelessness

Whom to Contact:

Contact your Legislators asking them to support Funding for Housing in the Bonding Bill. To find your legislator, go to http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/

Please contact the Bill Authors to say Thank you! See contact information of Bill Authors below.

House authors are: Representatives Howes (R-Walker); Hausman (DFL – St. Paul); McFarlane (R – White Bear Lake); Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul);Clark (DFL – Minneapolis); Ward (DFL – Brainerd) and our Senate authors are: Senators Pederson (R – St. Cloud); Hayden (DFL – Minneapolis); Tomassoni (DFL – Chisholm) ; Brown (R-Becker); Miller (R-Winona).

Let us know who you contacted after you call these legislators! Please take one minute and take this one question survey so we are able to track who was contacted.   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NWQL9PG

Background:

With our housing advocate partners, we are making progress at the State Capitol to ensure that funding for affordable housing is in the bonding bill! Along with our advocacy that housing funding is important and needed; housing advocates are working with Legislators to determine the funding amount to include in the bonding bill.

We are pleased to report that a stand-alone housing bonding bill for $40 million for affordable housing was introduced in the State Legislature this week. Right now, housing resources are included in the Governor’s bonding proposal. The bill, SF2073/HF2485 increases the likelihood that housing is included in the Legislature’s bonding bill. Having affordable housing resources in both the Governor and State Legislature’s bonding proposal gives us a better chance that our request will be in the final package. Also, a stand-alone bill will allow advocates to rally for a housing-specific bonding ask.

Representative Larry Howes, Capital Investments Chair, Walker rep.larry.howes@house.mn 651-296-2451
Representative Alice Hausman, Minority Lead, St. Paul rep.alice.hausman@house.mn 651-296-3824
Representative Karen Clark, Minneapolis rep.karen.clark@house.mn 651-296-0294
Representative Rick Hansen,  South St. Paul rep.rick.hansen@house.mn 651-296-6828
Representative Carol McFarlane, White Bear Lake rep.carol.mcfarlane@house.mn 651-296-5363
Representative John Ward, Brainerd rep.john.ward@house.mn 651-296-4333
Senator John Pederson, Capital Investments Vice Chair, St. Cloud sen.john.pederson@senate.mn 651.296.6455
Senator David Brown, Becker sen.david.brown@senate.mn 651.296.8075
Senator Jeff Hayden, Minneapolis sen.jeff.hayden@senate.mn 651.296.4261
Senator Jeremy Miller, Winona sen.jeremy.miller@senate.mn 651.296.5649
Senator David Tomassoni, Chisholm sen.david.tomassoni@senate.mn 651.296.8017

 

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Advocate for Affordable Housing

IMMEDIATE ACTION:  Ensure the 2012 Bonding Bill contains funding for Affordable Housing Projects!

   

 

The Message:  With vacancy rates low and apartment rents high, families, youth and individuals in our community need affordable housing options!  Help create construction jobs and invest in our communities by appropriating $40 million in the Bonding Bill. This funding builds new construction and maintains current affordable housing units to keep them available.

 

Whom to Contact:

 

Let us know who you contacted after you call these legislators! Please take one minute and take this one question survey so we are able to track who was contacted.    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QX3L6QY

 

Representative Larry Howes 491 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55155
rep.larry.howes@house.mn 651-296-2451
Representative Peggy Scott

 

477 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55155
rep.peggy.scott@house.mn 651-296-4231
Representative Alice Hausman 255 State Office Building

100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55155

rep.alice.hausman@house.mn 651-296-3824
Senator David Senjem 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Capitol Building, Room 121
St. Paul, MN 55155-1606
sen.david.senjem@senate.mn 651.296.3903
Senator John Pederson 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Capitol Building, Room G-24
St. Paul, MN 55155-1606
sen.john.pederson@senate.mn 651.296.6455
Senator Keith Langseth 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
State Office Building, Room 139
St. Paul, MN 55155-1206
http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1029&ls= 651.296.3205

 

 

Talking Points:

  • Housing construction and rehabilitation funding will provide needed jobs for Minnesotans.
  • Funding is needed for Affordable Housing to address the gaps in the community and need for housing people with low incomes.
  • Research has shown that housing stability lowers costs of health care and improves education of children.

 

Background:

Proposal to use appropriation from the bonding bill:

  • $40 million to address affordable housing infrastructure needs in communities throughout the state. Funds will be used to:
    • preserve existing federally subsidized rental housing,
    • stabilize communities impacted by the foreclosure crisis by creating new affordable housing opportunities through rental units and community land trusts, and
    • construct or acquire and rehabilitate permanent supportive housing, particularly for persons experiencing or at risk of experiencing long-term homelessness.
    • $10 million for public housing preservation.
      • Housing must be affordable to and occupied by low-and moderate income households.


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Need for Affordable Housing

Need

Preservation

  • In the next 5 years an estimated 30% of the 31,000 privately owned, federally assisted Section 8 housing units are at risk of opting out of the program and will no longer be affordable housing.   Tenants in Section 8 housing pay only 30% of their income towards the rent; the federal government makes up the difference.
  • This housing is approaching 30 years old; many of the properties do not generate sufficient income to pay for needed maintenance.
  • $1 in state funding for gap financing can leverage $2 in private funding: $1 from amortizing debt paid by the owner and $1 in private equity from housing tax credit investors.

Foreclosure

  • 26,000 residential mortgages were foreclosed in 2010.
  • A “shadow” inventory exists of homes that banks own but have not yet put on the market for sale.
  • An estimated 15.9% of all mortgages in Minnesota are underwater – the amount of the mortgage exceeds the current value of the property.
  • Communities become less stable, have a difficult time attracting new residents and businesses and the remaining residents’ homes lose value when significant portions of a community’s residential properties are vacant and/or foreclosed.

Supportive Housing

  • An estimated 46,400 persons were homeless at least once during 2009, the last year for which the Wilder Research Center made estimates based on their statewide survey.  13,100 persons were homeless on any given night.
  • Children comprise one-third (1/3) of the homeless population. The number of youth ages 12-21 who were homeless increased between 2006 and 2009.
  • Persons experiencing homelessness face serious barriers to stable housing.  Sixty percent (60%) of the persons experiencing long-term homelessness suffer from a serious mental illness.  One-half of all persons experiencing long-term homelessness suffer from at least one chronic health condition.  Thirty percent (30%) are women fleeing domestic abuse.
  • Permanent supportive housing is proving to be a successful strategy to end long-term homelessness. Persons housed in permanent supportive housing are maintaining housing stability:  86% of the households served in permanent supportive housing in Minnesota were still housed at the end of the reporting year.  Emergency expenditures are reduced due to reduced usage of jails, emergency rooms, and detox facilities.
  •  Minnesota has achieved 90% of its goal of 4000 permanent supportive housing opportunities as part of the Business Plan to End Long-term Homelessness
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Have you made your 2012 resolutions? Make a resolution to End Homelessness!

Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness

Action Alert

January 4, 2012

IMMEDIATE ACTION:  Make a 2012 New Year’s Resolution to End Homelessness!

   

Let’s make 2012 the year Minnesota resolves to end homelessness.  We know we cannot end homelessness in one year, but we can significantly move public will!
Will you make a resolution to (continue to) do your part in 2012?
Here’s how it works:

  1. Write a resolution.  Send your resolution to Heidi@dceh.org along with a picture of yourself.

Or if you have a video camera:

  1. Record a short video that includes the words “I resolve…” with your personalized message.  Email your video clip to Heidi@dceh.org and we will share it through social media and other sources.  This initiative is sponsored by Heading Home Minnesota, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, and dozens of partners around the state.

Instructions & Tips

  1. Please keep video to one minute or less.  Consider sharing your name, vocation, location and resolution.
  2. Clear sound is crucial – please record in an environment without background noise.
  3. Be aware of backlight – if you’re in front of a bright window, it will be hard to see you.
  4. Title your video – consider using your city/region or resolution theme
  5. Please consider resolving to do actions that truly get at ending homelessness.   Think about where do you have influence?  What can you do with that influence to help end homelessness? 
  6. Email your video to Heidi@dceh.org.
  7. Examples of actions you might consider taking:

Some examples: I resolve to…

  • Use social media to share updates from the homeless advocacy community.
  • Tour an affordable housing building.
  • Have my business contribute volunteers and financial resources to build and sustain housing.
  • Open my house as a host home for a homeless youth.
  • Give my employees the option to participate in employee giving.
  • Deliver a sermon/lecture/paper on homelessness.
  • Participate in Homeless Day on the Hill on March 8, 2012.
  • Dedicate a percentage of my rental units to housing people who are transitioning out of homelessness.
  • Host a brown bag lunch for my employees and have a guest speaker educate us on homelessness.
  • Raise $1,000 to help homeless advocacy and/or my local homeless program/
  • Greet warmly every homeless person I meet.
  • Meet with my legislators to share facts about homelessness.
  • Have my organization sponsor an essay contest on homelessness.
  • Visit my local homeless program to educate myself about homelessness.
  • Sponsor one family transitioning out of homelessness by helping to stock their apartment with kitchen and bathroom necessities.
  • Volunteer on one Habitat for Humanity house.
  • Mentor/tutor a homeless child.
  • Include people experiencing homelessness in my daily prayers.
  • Have my students do a book/research report on homelessness.
  • Provide a free taxi ride to a homeless person who needs a ride to shelter.
  • Provide pro bono legal assistance to a homeless family.
  • Volunteer at a Project Homeless Connect or Operation Community Connect.
  • Hire a homeless veteran.
  • Donate fresh fruits or vegetables from my garden to a homeless program/person.
  • Donate food from my farm to somebody transitioning out of homelessness to stock their fridge/freezer.
  • Offer a free haircut to a homeless person at my salon.
  • Make our next company party be a volunteer event or fundraiser to help end homelessness.

 

 

 

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What is the Common Good?

By Ann Pannier

The concept of the common good is found in many places in our culture, our history, and in our faith traditions. For example, consider Thomas Jefferson’s eloquent words in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. At a minimum the pursuit of happiness requires food, a place to live, education, work (or basic care for those unable to work due to physical or mental illness), and health care.

In the Hebrew Bible the prophets preached justice as God’s will for all believers. What the Lord requires of you: only to do justice and to love goodness and to walk modestly with your God. (Micah 6:8) By acts of tzedaka (doing justice), the people act in accordance with God’s will and fulfill their obligations to the covenant. There is also the concept of tikkun olam which means repairing the world. Abraham Heschel, the Jewish theologian, warned of the tyranny of “needs” that plagued and still plagues the United States. He suggested considering God’s demands as a way of distinguishing objectively genuine needs from merely subjective wants. Heschel’s admonition leads us to reflect on the huge and growing gap between the rich and the poor in the United States. How much is enough for those with extreme wealth? How far below the poverty line must some fall?

In the Gospels Jesus continues the prophets’ exhortations, commanding us to love God and our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22: 36-40). Love is not just a warm compassionate feeling; it is action on behalf of someone in genuine need. In Catholic social teaching the concept of the common good is related to the belief in the dignity of the human person: These demands concern…..the provision of essential services to all, some of which are at the same time human rights: food, housing, work, education and access to culture, transportation, basic health care, the freedom of communication and expression, and the protection of religious freedom. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004). Catholic teaching is based upon the natural law tradition originally formulated by Plato and Aristotle and further developed by Thomas Aquinas and others. Natural law teaches that the most basic reason for doing good for others is that at the deepest personal level we want to work to benefit others. It coincides with our deepest needs. The phrase, “Virtue is its own reward,” captures the idea of natural law.

In Protestant traditions the concept of the common good rests on beliefs similar to those of Jewish and Roman Catholic traditions such as universal human dignity and shared responsibility for the welfare of all. New Testament reminders that “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” (Matthew 22:40) exemplify religious commands to work for the common good. The contemporary Evangelical ethicist Ronald J. Sider argues that there is a positive role for government to play–to be what Paul calls “God’s servant.” (“For the Common Good,” Sojourners Magazine, April 2007)

One of the five pillars of Islam is zakat (almsgiving). Also in the Islamic tradition is the idea of maslaha (translated as either “public interest” or “common good”). This concept is invoked to prohibit or permit something on the basis of whether it serves the public’s benefit. There is an ethic of mutual support and a strong sense that government also has a responsibility to help the poor and needy.

Unitarian Universalists are well known for their participation in social justice advocacy.

Among their beliefs are these:

~the inherent worth and dignity of every person

~justice, equity and compassion in human relations

~the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all     (Emersonsermons.com)

Finally, John Donne masterfully sums up the concept of the common good: No man is an island entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

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