Thursday, July 12, 2018

Our Quaker witness: a personal testimony during a dark time



I am very grateful and glad that I have been given this opportunity to speak to Pacific YM about Quaker witness and minutes of concern. I feel there is a great deal of misunderstanding about minutes of concern among those who have never experienced their usefulness and power. I will speak out of my own experience. I can do so because I have helped to craft many minutes of concern over the years and been part of the process of getting them approved. I love this process of discernment when it is conducted in a friendly and loving manner. I even appreciate conflict when it comes from a place of compassion and commitment to truth. To ask one’s Meeting for support is to become vulnerable to the Spirit and to the moods of Friends, some of whom may not feel the same passion that you feel and may react in hurtful ways. But unless one is willing to take this risk, one never discovers the power and joy that comes from feeling the love and support of one’s Meeting as one goes about trying to follow the leading of the Spirit.
Since becoming part of Orange Grove Meeting, I have seen how minutes of concern have strengthened our Meeting and those called to social justice work. When we approved the climate change minute that was approved in Peru by FWCC, and affirmed by our Yearly Meeting, Orange Grove Friends began to think more seriously about our energy use. After much discernment, and consultation with Claremont Meeting, we decided to purchase all green electrical power and install solar panels. It took many years, and a few painful moments, but we feel good about the results as a community.
My wife Jill is not a Quaker but she loves Quaker process. She is passionate about housing justice, and has been warmly embraced by Orange Grove’s vibrant and loving Peace and Social Concerns Committee. Over the years we’ve approved minutes of concern about rent control, a Housing Commission, and similar housing related issues. These minutes have enabled Jill to appreciate the power of Quaker corporate discernment. We value having the support of Meeting when we go to City Council Meetings, or when our Advocacy Team meets with our elected officials about averting war with North Korea. Only a few Orange Grove members actively take part, but we appreciate their support. We’re also grateful for those who support us with prayers and words of encouragement.
One misunderstanding that I’d like to address is that if a minute of concern is approved, every Friend must take action or else the minute lacks integrity.  I’ve heard Friends say this at our Yearly Meeting, but I think Santa Monica Friends provided a thoughtful response when it approved a minute on families separated at the border. Here’s what Santa Monica Friends said:

One Friend raised concern that the phrase "we actively commit" implied that all friends and attenders are committed to take action. We clarify that no, this does not require all friends and attenders to act. The commitment of the Meeting is to provide support and blessing to all who choose to take action on these heartbreaking and inhumane immigration practices. Our actions are enhanced through the community, knowing that we speak and act not just as individual Quakers, but on behalf of and with the strength of the commitment of our Santa Monica Meeting.

These words ring true and speak to my condition and experience. Now I must be vulnerable and tell you I have felt great disappointment and sadness that our Yearly Meeting has not approved any minutes of concern during a period when our government is doing horrendous and immoral things almost daily. I often reflect on the words of Dr. King who said in his famous speech at Riverside Church: “Sometimes silence is betrayal.” To say nothing publicly when children are being snatched from their parents, when funds are being slashed from programs that help the poor, when the military budget is escalating beyond reason, and when our environmental protections are being stripped away, feels excruciatingly painful and un-Quakerly to me. I miss and yearn for our prophetic Quaker voice of conscience. I personally can’t help speaking out and working for justice and peace during this dark time.  I would like to do so with the support and blessing of my Yearly Meeting as well as my monthly meeting. I hope that the time will come when this can happen once again. I also hope and pray that during this YM session, you will approve procedures that will make it possible for our Yearly Meeting to speak out boldly and clearly for social justice and peace and support those who are called to take risks, be vulnerable and witness to our Quaker faith.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Urge Pasadena's Ed Tech Committee to recommend homeless housing at Heritage Square South



On Tuesday, July 17, at 5:30 pm the Economic Development and Technology Committee of the Pasadena City Council will consider how to utilize Heritage Square South, a property purchased with HUD and other funding fifteen years ago for affordable housing. For political reasons, it has been left vacant, despite the urgent need for affordable housing. In March, 2018, Vice Mayor John Kennedy brought this issue up along with a report from the Housing Department recommending the the site be used to house homeless seniors, but some Council members want  to sell the property to a commercial developer and forfeit over  a million dollars to HUD!  The Council couldn't make up its mind so it asked Ed Tech to study the matter and come up with a proposal.

Please come to this crucial meeting and/or write to the City Council urging them to approve using Heritage Square South for homeless housing. Here's a sample letter:


Dear Honorable Mayor and City Councilmember I want to commend Vice Mayor John Kennedy for bringing to the attention of the City Council the South Heritage Square Property, which is a designated “affordable housing asset.” I also want to thank William Huang for his study showing that most needed and most easily fundable use of this property is for permanent supportive housing for homeless seniorsI support mixed use of this property, using the first floor for commercial development, and the top two floors for supportive housing for homeless seniors.
[Say something about yourself, for example: “I am a retired school teacher who lives in Councilmember Gordo’s district, or who attends church or works in Pasadena.”]


Choose one of the following talking points and either cut and paste it or express it in your own words. Send your email to mjomsky@cityofpasadena.net.

Here are the talking points:

  1. Homeless housing makes a community safer and is good for business.  
  2. Overconcentration is not a problem for gentrifying areas like Northwest Pasadena. According to our Housing Director, “Affordable housing in all its forms is the best way to combat gentrification.” Furthermore, the overconcentration policy doesn’t apply to Heritage Square South since it is not an inclusionary project.
  3. Homeless housing is a better option for this neighborhood than selling this property for exclusively commercial development and forfeiting over a million dollars to HUD.
  4. Selling this property for commercial development doesn’t make economic sense. It makes sense to invest in the community with a city-funded project.
  5. This project has overwhelming support of the community in Vice Mayor John Kennedy's District. 
  6.  Mixed use is the best approach, especially since this is a corner lot at a vibrant commercial intersection
  7. This site is ideal for homeless seniors, according to our Housing Director.
  8. We can be sure that those housed in Heritage Square South supportive housing will be from Pasadena.
  9. With a city-funded homeless housing project, we can guarantee it will generate local jobs and beautify the neighborhood. There is no guarantee that exclusively commercial development will generate a single job for Pasadena residents.
  10. The need for supportive housing for Pasadena’s homeless residents is growing rapidly and needs to be addressed now.
  11. There are huge financial benefits for housing homeless seniors.

Talking Point #1: Homeless housing makes a community safer and is good for business.  Mr Madison, we know that you are concerned about public safety and that’s why we feel you should support housing homeless seniors at Heritage Square South.  Mr. Huang, our Housing produced a video showing why permanent supportive housing benefits a community. This documentary makes it clear why police support permanent supportive housing. Police would rather be apprehending real criminals than hassling homeless people. A police sergeant in Sacramento was quoted recently as saying, “You can’t arrest your way out of homelessness.” Retired Police Chief Sanchez was a big supporter of affordable housing. He said, “Despite some of the stereotypes, affordable housing doesn’t impact crime. It doesn’t erode the quality of life. They’re highly regulated. They are highly monitored.” Lieutenant Mark Goodman, added, “The safety level is actually enhanced, because you are taking people from off the street and putting them into a situation that’[1]s stable.”’
Studies confirm that housing the homeless deters crime and makes our communities safer. The Justice Policy Institute states: “An increase in spending on housing is associated with a decrease in violent crime at the national level and a decrease in incarceration rates at the state level An increase in spending on housing and community development paired with a decrease in spending on corrections is associated with both lower crime rates and lower prison incarceration rates’” [2]In other words, the more you spend on affordable and homeless housing, the less you need to spend on jails!
This makes sense. When homeless people are in permanent supportive housing, they can receive help with their substance abuse issues and are less likely to commit petty crimes.
Housing the homeless is also good for business.
 In this documentary Paul Little, CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, said, “Local businesses don’t feel the impact of permanent supportive housing. If there is an impact, it’s a positive one because there are fewer people in doorways, fewer people sleeping on sidewalks, or under bridges.”
The documentary provides perspectives from realtors, homeowners, and housing advocates, all of whom agree that permanent affordable housing is not only good for homeless people, it is also good for the community.
We have canvassed businesses around South Heritage Square who agree and have signed petitions supporting homeless housing on this site. They would like to see homeless people off the streets and housed with dignity. They agree with Paul Little and the police that permanent supportive housing is good for business and makes our community safer.  

Talking Point 2. Overconcentration is not a problem for gentrifying areas like Northwest Pasadena. According to our Housing Director, “Affordable housing in all its forms is the best way to combat gentrification.” I am here to speak on behalf of housing homeless at Heritage Square South. I’d like first to clarify a policy matter regarding over concentration of affordable housing in Northwest Pasadena.
Mr. Gordo has brought up the issue of over concentration as a reason not to have homeless housing at Heritage Square South,
It is important to note, however, that this policy applies only to off-site inclusionary affordable housing projects, such as the one that Mr. Gordo wanted to replace a blighted liquor store in his district. Under the inclusionary policy passed by the City Council in 2001, such a site could not be developed with inclusionary funds. The Council decided to pass an exception for this project and also for the Lincoln project. Both are affordable home ownership projects.
I think that the City Council was wise to make these exceptions since Northwest Pasadena needs more affordable housing. For a similar reason, it would also be wise to allow homeless housing to be built at Heritage Square South.
But Heritage Square South is not an inclusionary offsite project, so there is no need to make an exception to current policy.[3] I have checked with Bill Huang as well as with the wording of the policy, and it is very clear that it doesn’t apply in this case.
 With the help of Kim Douglas, a retired Cal Tech reference library who now serves on the Northwest Commission, my husband and I have written a report showing that the overconcentration policy is obsolete and needs to end in Northwest Pasadena. The policy no longer makes sense because Northwest Pasadena has become gentrified and there is an urgent need for more affordable housing in Northwest Pasadena so that “legacy” residents including the African American and Latino community aren’t forced to leave.
 Not only do we want to end blight of a defunct gas station and a problem liquor store, we need to end the blight of homelessness and prevent so many from being displaced from NW Pasadena. William Huang has stated, “Affordable housing in all its forms is the best way to combat gentrification.”

Talking Point 3: Homeless housing is a better option for this neighborhood than selling this property for exclusively commercial development and forfeiting over a million dollars.  Mr Gordo, I know you care deeply about creating a family-friendly neighborhood and you are also pro-union since you served as an attorney for the Laborers’ International Union of North America. That’s why we feel you should support permanent supportive housing for homeless seniors at North Heritage.
As you know, there are many elderly seniors living on the streets in your district and they have nowhere to go. Many are long-term residents of this area who have ended up on the street because of rising rents. If we could house 69 of them at Heritage Square North, it would improve the quality of life for all residents in your neighborhood. I am sure you are aware that homeless people forced to sleep on the street can create unsanitary conditions and disturb families and businesses.
Your constituents do not like seeing homeless people in their area. That’s why when Vice Mayor Kennedy asked residents what they wanted at Heritage Square South, 80% wanted homeless housing and 80% opposed selling this affordable housing asset for exclusively commercial use. Your constituents have the right idea. It is much better to house our homeless neighbors with dignity than to let them live on the streets. Getting homeless seniors off the streets of Northwest Pasadena will make our community safer for families and better for business. 
Talking Point #4: Selling this property for commercial development doesn’t make economic sense. It makes sense to invest in the community. I’m sure you all realize that your constituents are very upset that the City Council gave away nearly half a million dollars in funds slated for homeless housing because it didn’t have a homeless or very low income project in the pipeline. Your constituents will be even more outraged if you decide to sell Heritage Square South and forfeit $1.3 million dollars to HUD. If this property is sold to a commercial developer, not only would the City lose 1.3 million in HUD funding, we would lose the opportunity to ensure that construction is done by union labor that will pay a fair wage. If this property is sold for commercial development, there is no guarantee that there will local hires, local contractors, or local materials used. There is no way to compel a commercial developer to hire union labor. In fact, there is no way to guarantee that a commercial developer will hire a single Pasadena resident.  If this is s a city-funded project, we can require local hires, local contractors, and local materials. It will also require hiring workers at prevailing wage, which usually means union workers.  Heritage Square North generated 7 million dollars of economic development in the city of Pasadena. Bill Huang says it is possible to have commercial development and permanent supportive housing on this site, which would be even better for the community. The time to act is now while HUD and other funding is available for permanent supportive housing. As Andy Wilson said,   "We're eight years into an economic growth cycle, and I'm deeply concerned about the magnitude of this challenge when the economy's behind our backs. We really owe it to ourselves and our community to be clever now, when frankly we have the luxury to solve some of this without a gun to our heads, because I can imagine when the business cycle turns, what those homeless numbers are going to look like." Andy is right. We need to be clever now and approve using Heritage Square South for homeless housing.
Talking Point 5: Mixed use is the best approach, especially since this is a corner lot at a vibrant commercial intersection. GPAHG supports the idea of mixed use—commercial development plus homeless housing. According to Bill Huang, this is feasible. The corner of Los Robles and Orange Grove has mixed use on a corner lot and that’s true of most corner lots in Old Town. It actually makes more economic sense to have mixed use than to have a one-story commercial property, like the CVS on the corner of Orange Grove and Fair Oaks. Donna Hess, the property manager at Heritage Square North, has suggested medical offices on this site since it would require less parking and meet the needs of seniors. This would be a win-win for the community—create jobs and get our homeless seniors off the street.
Talking Point 6: This project has overwhelming support of the community in Vice Mayor John Kennedy's District.  In many areas of our City, NIMBYism prevents homeless housing from being built. Other than Margaret McAustin, I don’t know of any City Council member who is actively championing homeless housing in his district. But NIMBYism isn’t a problem in Northwest Pasadena. Residents here want affordable and homeless housing. During a community meet6ing in March, 80% of the community supported using this site for affordable housing and 80% opposed using this site only for commercial development. See Kennedy’s survey results: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-25G2T2Y68/  Religious leaders and churches have signed over 400 letters in support of homeless housing for seniors, and two prayers vigil on the property attracted 20 and 60 people, many from the nearby neighborhood. The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which comprises most of the African American churches in this area, supports using Heritage Square South for homeless housing.   We have gone door to door surveying businesses and neighbors and most were willing to sign petitions of support, which were sent to the City Council. 
Talking Point 7: This property is ideal for homeless seniors, according to our Housing Director. Supportive housing for seniors is the best option for this site because it is located on a busy commercial intersection, which is not ideal for families. Furthermore, families need more parking than do seniors and that would reduce the number of individuals who could be served, and also limit mixed use commercial development (restaurants require lots of parking). This site is better suited for seniors because it is close to already existing senior housing, a CVS, grocery stores and restaurants, and medical facilities (easily accessible by bus). Supportive housing for homeless seniors is fundable because of Measure H and other sources. Finally, the need is urgent, with the number of homeless seniors (those over 50 years of age) increasing 65% in three years, from 153 in 2016 to 253 in 2018. (Of these, 174 are unsheltered.)
Talking Point 8: We can be sure that those housed in Heritage Square South supportive housing will be from Pasadena. Mr. Hampton, we know that you are concerned that projects like these benefit the community you serve. According to Bill Huang, the City can give preference to Pasadena residents and to homeless seniors, of which there are 253 living on the streets of our city. It is likely that the vast majority of those housed will be homeless Pasadena seniors, many of whom will likely be from District 3. Almost all the current residents of Heritage Square North are from Northwest Pasadena. 30% are African American, 25% are Hispanic, 22% are Caucasians, and 18% are Asian. The 2018 Homeless Count shows that 36% of the homeless population are African American and 28% are Hispanic, and 48% are white. Very few homeless people are homeless. Heritage Square South will be a great benefit to the residents of Northwest Pasadena since it will house some of our homeless residents.
Talking Point 9: If the property is mixed use, including supportive housing, we can guarantee it will generate local jobs and beautify the neighborhood. I am speaking out in support of using Heritage Square South for homeless housing because it will benefit the economic development of our community and beautify the neighborhood. The City can require local hires for affordable and homeless housing. For Heritage Square North, 20% were local hires, and 60% of materials used were purchased locally.  Supportive housing would provide economic benefits to the local community in ways that commercial development could not guarantee. Heritage Square left $ 7 million in the City because of its policy to provide local contracts and supplies. Unlike city funded affordable housing projects, there is no requirement for commercial developers to hire local contractors. Nor are commercial ventures required to hire local employees. Therefore, commercial development would not necessarily provide any jobs for local residents nor would there be any requirement for material to be purchased locally. It makes much better economic sense for the City to invest in homeless housing in an area where such housing is urgently needed. . Furthermore, affordable housing like Summit Grove or Heritage Square North is not a stigma, but an asset to the community. They add beauty to the neighborhood.
Talking Point 10: The need for supportive housing for Pasadena’s homeless residents is growing rapidly. Homeless service providers have testified to this Council many times that the lack of homeless housing in this city is making very hard for them to find housing for those who are homeless. The number of unsheltered homeless residents in our City increased 33% in the past year. The number of homeless seniors has increased 65% in the past three years.  Since there is no supportive housing in the city pipeline, this number of homeless residents will undoubtedly increase over the next few years. There is a need to create multiple homeless housing projects, both short- and long-term.  Reducing our homeless population by providing housing will make our community safer and better for business.
Talking Point 11: There are huge financial benefits for housing homeless seniors. Homeless seniors are likely to cost society more money in health care than younger and healthier homeless residents. Given the City’s budget crunch, it makes more economic sense to house homeless seniors in facilities with services provided by the County’s Measure H funding than to let them sicken and die on the streets, with various agencies in the City footing enormous medical bills. A Rand study showed that housing homeless residents has saved the county $1.20 for every dollar spent on housing and supportive services. According to an Economic Roundtable study, the cost of dealing with a homeless individual in LA County is around $5038 per month, vs $605 per month when they are provided with supportive housing. These costs increase with the age of homeless individuals. Based on this study, we can estimate the cost to Pasadena of having 69 homeless seniors living on the street to be around $4,171,464 per year. Housing them in supportive housing would run around $500,940, a savings of $3,670,524. This would be a huge financial benefit to our City. 
Talking Point 12: Heritage Square South was originally intended for affordable housing and is considered an “affordable housing asset.” According to Bill Huang, the North and South Heritage Square property was originally purchased in different parcels over a period of time by the City with HUD and other funding for affordable housing, starting in 2004. For political reasons, it was bifurcated in 2011 with the understanding that Heritage Square North would be used for affordable senior housing, and the southern part primarily for commercial use. When the state ended Redevelopment, however, the City changed its tune. The state wanted the City to sell the property and give them the proceeds, but the City argued that the property was an affordable housing asset and would be used for affordable housing. The state allowed the City to keep the property for this purpose. The City’s intention for this property has shifted over time, but it is currently designated for affordable housing. If it is sold for commercial use, the City must use the proceeds for affordable housing and will forfeit over a million dollars in HUD funding



[1] https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article170828122.html
[3] See Inclusionary Regulations Updated 12/28/17. This policy clearly applies only to inclusionary units:  “(v) Over concentration.  The proposed construction of the Inclusionary Units on the parcel proposed shall not result in an over concentration of low income housing in any specific neighborhood.  As used herein, an “over concentration” exists when either 50 rental units legally restricted (by means of a recorded instrument) to occupancy by Very Low and/or Low Income Households are located within one-eighth mile from the parcel proposed for the off-site Inclusionary Units, or when 200 rental units legally restricted (by means of a recorded instrument) to occupancy by Very Low and/or Low Income Households are located within one-quarter mile from the parcel proposed for the off-site Inclusionary Units.” (p. 7).


[1] https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article170828122.html
[3] See Inclusionary Regulations Updated 12/28/17. This policy clearly applies only to inclusionary units:  “(v) Over concentration.  The proposed construction of the Inclusionary Units on the parcel proposed shall not result in an over concentration of low income housing in any specific neighborhood.  As used herein, an “over concentration” exists when either 50 rental units legally restricted (by means of a recorded instrument) to occupancy by Very Low and/or Low Income Households are located within one-eighth mile from the parcel proposed for the off-site Inclusionary Units, or when 200 rental units legally restricted (by means of a recorded instrument) to occupancy by Very Low and/or Low Income Households are located within one-quarter mile from the parcel proposed for the off-site Inclusionary Units.” (p. 7).

Monday, July 2, 2018

Reunite Refugee Families Separated at the Border: A Quaker Response to this Moral Crisis



 
Friends at a demo in Pasadena: Kim and Alex Hopkins, Chris and Elizabeth and their baby Max, and Anthony. See
https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2018/06/30/pasadena-demonstrators-parade-down-colorado-boulevard-to-urge-reuniting-immigrant-families/


Quakers have been concerned about refugees fleeing violence in Central America since the 1980s when Jim Corbett, an Arizona Quaker, helped to start the Sanctuary Movement. Many Quaker meetings throughout the nation, including Princeton Meeting (where I became a Quaker in 1984), took Salvadoran and other Latin American refugees under the care during this tumultuous period. 

Quakers have continued to feel deeply concerned about the fate of Central America refugees ever since. Most recently, in 2015, Pacific Yearly Meeting approved a minute of concern supporting efforts to support unaccompanied minors and refugee families:

“  This year six monthly meetings in Pacific Yearly Meeting have approved minutes of concern for refugee children crossing the border from Latin America. A special subcommittee of the Latin American Concerns Committee, Child Refugees and Migration, was formed to address this concern. Many Friends have taken action from visiting elected officials, accompanying a local child refugee through the legal processes, to traveling to Texas to be in solidarity with these children and their families. Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Annual Session supports the efforts of the LACC and numerous other Friends who are seeking justice and showing compassion toward those who are fleeing the violence in their home countries and need a place of refuge in our country. We encourage monthly meetings and individual Friends to read the attached minutes and take them to heart. We also encourage Friends to support the efforts of AFSC and FCNL to promote just and compassionate policies toward immigrants.” See Latin American Concerns Committtee Report

Friends are seeking ways to respond to the current refugee crisis. One example is a minute of concern recently approved by Santa Monica Meeting. Other Friends are taking action by visiting detainees in the Adelanto Detention Center. Some are accompanying refugees in the courts. Quaker organizations like FCNL and AFSC are calling for comprehensive immigration reform and an end to ICE. 

I am including this letter in hopes of stimulating more discussion among Friends (and others) about what we can do to respond to this latest moral crisis. 

Dear Friends,

On behalf of Worship and Ministry Committee, I'm happy to share the Minute approved by a Called Business Meeting on 6/24/18.

Minute 18-06-01 . As Quakers, we are called to treat our fellow human beings with the utmost respect, dignity and care, including those with whom we disagree strongly. This does not mean, however that we will remain silent when acts of great harm are committed by the most powerful against the most vulnerable. We will not remain silent when God, or any sacred justification, is invoked to support such actions.

As people of faith, we call for an immediate end to the practice of removing children from their parents because their parents have attempted to enter the United States,  regardless of whether that entry constitutes a misdemeanor under U.S. law. We call for immediately reuniting children and parents already separated. We call for an immediate end to the incarceration of children, with or without their parents. And we call for an end to any and all practices that treat any immigrating individuals as less  than” or “other,” or that treat them with hostility and cruelty.

We commit to actively working with all those striving to ensure that our immigration policies reflect the best of ourshared humanity and are grounded in the compassionate  application of the principle of “liberty and justice for all.”” 

One Friend raised concern that the phrase "we actively commit" implied that all friends and attenders are committed to take action. We clarify that no, this does not require all friends and attenders to act. The commitment of the Meeting is to provide support and blessing to all who choose to take action on these heartbreaking and inhumane immigration practices. Our actions are enhanced through the community, knowing that we speak and act not just as individual Quakers, but on behalf of and with the strength of the commitment of our Santa Monica Meeting.
Peace and Social Action Committee stepped forward to take leadership. Friends were encouraged to attend P&SA meetings and to share ideas for action on our listserv.
***

Here are some actions that I (Anthony) recommend for us to do (based on a blog by Kit Danley, founder of Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, AZ):

· Pray, knowing that your prayer will lead to action.
· Give your financial resources to help people who are doing some of these things.  Here are a couple ways to give:
· Contact your Congress representatives and senators OFTENThe FCNL will connect you directly to your senators. FCNL.org..
·  Write op-eds for your local newspaper
· Sign on to some national campaigns putting political pressure on D.C.  Here are a couple:
· Take the next 100 days to get involved in a local campaign supporting people who have come out publicly against these horrific practices.
· Volunteer at a shelter for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) in your area (over 100 nationally).  It is a rigorous process to become a volunteer, but it is possible. Research is needed to find a UAC in your area.  
·  Volunteer at legal aid clinics where asylum families will go, should they make it that far, for help with their asylum cases. 
· Join efforts with some local advocacy groups that are completely dedicated to immigrant asylum seekers


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Housing Justice, Poverty and Early Christians



For this First Day's Quaker Bible study, we will be reflecting on Acts 4:32-37 and also Acts 5, the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Here are some questions and quotations to help stimulate our reflections:


Early Christians held everything in common
and there was no poverty among them  (Act 4:32-34)

·         In what way was the social life and teaching of early Christians like socialism or communism, and how was it different?

·         What is the relationship between “being of one heart and soul” and sharing all things in common? How did this way of life reflect the power of the holy spirit?

·         According to Act 4, 34. “there was no needy person among them.” How does that apply to today’s world? Are Christians/Quakers called to end poverty?

·         What do you find troubling in the story of Ananias and Sapphira?

·         Do you feel that they deserved to die for not telling the truth when they laid only some of their possessions at the apostles’ feet?

·         According to Peter, Satan led Ananias to lie about holding back from giving all his possessions to the community. What does this say about the nature of Satan (and God)?

·         What do you feel is the purpose of this text?


Early Christian Teachings on Wealth and Poverty

You are not making a gift of your possession to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his.” –Ambrose of Milan, 340-397.

“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put into the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help but fail to help.” –Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.

 “Instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions.” –Irenaeus, 130-200 AD

“How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?” –Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.

“The property of the wealthy holds them in chains . . . which shackle their courage and choke their faith and hamper their judgment and throttle their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves.” Cyprian, 300 A.D.


John Woolman on Wealth and War

"O, that we who declare war against wars, and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the light, and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding onto money! May we look upon our estates, our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these, our possessions."

"To turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pasadena’s Faith and Community Leaders Call on the City Council to House Homeless Seniors at Heritage Square South


“Homeless housing is a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.”

As people of faith and conscience, we call upon the Pasadena City Council to approve homeless housing at Heritage Square South, a property on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove purchased fifteen years ago with HUD and other funding for affordable housing. 
The Housing Department has determined that this site is ideal for homeless housing and could accommodate 69 homeless seniors, a population that has increased 65% over the past three years. Funding to build permanent supportive housing is available through federal, state, and county sources.
Pasadena’s homeless population has soared in the last three years. According to the 2018 Homeless Count, “the sharpest increases were seen among those living on the street, in parks, encampments, vehicles and other places not fit for human habitation.” This vulnerable population increased 33% in the past year. The count also notes that “half of respondents living on the street were living in Pasadena when they most recently lost their housing.” The survey concludes that “people living on the streets are our neighbors.”
As people of faith and conscience, we feel that we have a moral obligation to ensure that our homeless neighbors are housed with dignity.
Despite this urgent need to house our homeless neighbors, the City Council is considering selling this property to a commercial developer, which would mean forfeiting a million dollars to HUD. We are deeply disturbed that this option is being seriously considered.
On Monday, June 11, the City Council turned over $472,399 in redevelopment successor funds to a homeless housing project in Los Angeles. These funds were slated for permanent supportive housing in Pasadena but could not be used here because for the past three years the Council has not approved any permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects, including Heritage Square South. This is an unconscionable loss to our city.
We are deeply concerned about this lack of homeless housing since studies show that PHS is the best practice to end homelessness.
The City Council does not have a single PHS project in the pipeline, even though funding is available for such housing and even though “high rents and a shortage of housing” is a major cause of homelessness in our city, according to the 2018 Homeless Count.
We feel that our City is morally obligated to house our homeless population, especially since we have the land and the funding to do so.
We urge the City Council to take immediate action to approve homeless housing at Heritage Square South. We regard this as a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.


“Give shelter to the homeless” (Isaiah 58:7).


Donna Hess, Property Manager, Heritage Square North

Rev. Inman Moore, Sierra Madre UMC

Pastor Tera Klein, Throop Church

Rabbi Jonathan Klein, CLUELA

Pastor Dan Davison, Rose City Church

Tarek Shawky, Muslim attorney

Rev. Sandy K. Olewine, First United Methodist Church of Pasadena

Rev William Turner, Jr.- New Revelation Missionary Baptist Church

Pastor John Stewart, New Guiding Light Church

Rev Jeff Utter, retired UCC pastor

Elbert Newton, Mennonite author, activist, homeless service provider

Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG)