Family Homelessness Initiative
GO BUILD IT
We see a home for all God’s children
In our city, over 800 families – including close to 1,600 children – are homeless.The root cause of this crisis is the lack of affordable permanent housing to meet the needs of these families.While progress is being made on housing options for low income families, it is not coming fast enough and will leave hundreds of families homeless for decades to come.Moreover, these families, our neighbors, not only need a place to live, but also access to the kinds of jobs, health care services and educational opportunities essential to breaking systemic cycles of poverty that too often persist across generations.
As a Christian community that prides itself on its commitment to families and children, we need to do more.In the The Way of Love, we are called to Go – to cross boundaries beyond our circles and comfort and to join God in healing a hurting world.We go to build a Beloved Community, a people reconciled in love with God and one another.A home for all God’s children.
And so to that end, we call the parish to fully commit ourselves to ending family homelessness in our community, ideally by 2030.
We do not mean this as a platitude or mere aspiration.Rather, we are seeking a fervent and sacred commitment to focusing the vast energy, talents and resources of this parish on ensuring that every family in our city will have access to decent, affordable housing and the support needed to make that the permanent reality for our city.The beginnings of progress can be seen in more effective government policies and in the efforts of various housing organizations, and our intention is to join and expand on those efforts.We further intend to track our progress and hold ourselves accountable to achieving our goal.
We envision Go Build It as a multi-pronged project consisting of at least the following components:
- Go Partner.We’re obviously not going to do this alone.Our primary partner will be Housing Up, a nonprofit with faith-based roots that provides housing and comprehensive support services to homeless and at-risk families.We will be leaders in helping Housing Up meet its near term goals of adding 500 affordable housing units for families in the District and creating program capacity for 1,000 families.We expect to also partner with other like-minded organizations, including several known to our parish, in furtherance of our goal.
- Go Engage.We will support Housing Up in providing mentoring, tutoring and other support to help families transform their own lives.Through this initiative, we will be intentional about building lasting relationships and a genuine sense of community in places far removed from St. Columba’s.
- Go Welcome.Within the next year, a new family homeless shelter will open on Idaho Avenue – roughly 1.5 miles from St. Columba’s – as part of the city’s effort to replace the former dilapidated shelter at D.C. General Hospital.We will find ways to welcome this shelter into our community and support its residents as they take steps toward permanent affordable housing.
- Go Advocate.We will organize and assert ourselves as forceful advocates for the kinds of government policy changes and initiatives that will be needed to eliminate family homelessness in our community.
- Go Build.Our Ward 3 is the most affluent in the District of Columbia, yet less than one percent of the District’s recently-developed affordable housing is located there.Seeking to lead by example, we will immediately launch a task force to explore the development of affordable housing on St. Columba’s property, bringing a new sense of purpose and energy to our corner of Albermarle and 42nd Streets.We will challenge other churches in our community to do the same.
- Go Further.St. Columba’s has a rich history of supporting homeless individuals in our communities, most notably through our Water Ministry, Grate Patrol and Loaves and Fishes, among others.And through our Refugee Response Ministry, we learned the benefits of affordable housing options and will seek to further make our community a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.Indeed, rather than abandon these other outreach programs, we hope Go Build It will both compliment and learn from our prior efforts to develop a livable community for people of all backgrounds and means.
Similar to the STEP program from a generation ago, we believe Go Build It presents an opportunity for our parish to unite around a common cause and to use the strength of our size to make a lasting impact.From one-on-one mentoring, to fundraising, to planning and advocating, we hope every parishioner will find a way to use their talents and passions to fulfill our commitment to ending family homelessness in our community.
Housing Up builds thriving communities in Washington, DC by developing affordable housing and offering comprehensive support services to homeless and low-income families. They believe that people who have safe, affordable housing and genuine opportunities are empowered to transform their lives.