Many in the Portland faith community believe it’s their core duty to help the destitute, and they don’t think their congregations are doing enough. At the same time, the prospect of doing more flummoxes them.
Paul Schroeder understands the dynamic that freezes churches in place. As coordinator of the New City Initiative, put together by the nonprofit JOIN, he’s working to reassure congregations: Yes, it’s possible to gently move forward. Yes, you can step up your commitment to house the homeless without getting in over your head.
Schroeder’s “ask” is not a small one. A church or several churches together agree to furnish $2,400 — or $800 a month for three months — toward rent and utilities for a homeless family. Human Solutions matches that amount, covering another three months of the family’s bills.
The money covers basics, but the church’s commitment is not only financial. The church must also agree to send a core group of three to five volunteers to a special training; help the homeless family move in; celebrate with a welcome party and some food and household items; then keep in touch and provide some emotional support for a few months.
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