Congregations and faith based organizations across the state fund, operate, and support programs that provide essential services to those in need including people who are homeless, those at risk of becoming homeless, and the newly re-housed. They also work to educate the community about the issue and they take action to bring about systemic change.
The following are examples of how some faith based groups are helping to end homelessness in Massachusetts:
Public Education and Awareness
Faith-based organizations and congregations host public forums, dinner dialogues and other educational opportunities about ending homelessness. These events can be for their members and the broader community. One interfaith group in Metro-West is raising funds to help prevent families from falling into homelessness while also informing their community about the effort to end homelessness in Massachusetts. .Another example is Hope for Housing, a program in Worcester where congregations are coming together to raise money for a homeless prevention program at their local agency, to learn more visit: www.cmhaonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=50&Itemid=95
Outreach and Meal Service
Congregations operate outreach programs to people living on the streets, provide meals, host AA meetings, and other support groups. Many work in collaboration with local agencies who do not have space or the volunteers to operate these programs. For an example of one community working in collaboration with a city visit: http://www.diocesewma.org and www.christchurchcathedralspringfield.org
Volunteering and Donations
Many faith based groups are utilizing the people, resources and connections in their community to assist those in need. The following are a few examples:
- Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless (Faith Into Action Together Program) works with churches who provide furniture and household products for the Furniture Bank in Lynn. http://www.mahomeless.org/
- Ecclesia Ministries common cathedral in Boston offers an overnight educational program for housed people to learn about homelessness from people who have experienced it, to form relationships with them, and to become advocates. www.eccelsia-ministries.org
- Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries engages youth and young adults in working with homeless community through Interfaith Youth Initiative and Day of Interfaith Youth Service. www.coopmet.org
Housing and Housing Search
Other organizations and congregations work in partnership with local agencies to provide volunteers for housing search and to help people access services. They bring together community leaders, clergy and clients for forums about homelessness and they collaborate with local housing authorities and private landlords to help house the homeless. One faith based organization working to create housing for the homeless is Episcopal City Mission, visit www.episcopalcitymission.org to learn more about their affordable housing program.