Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Radical Changes in Anawim

I sent out a letter requesting pledges for finances so that Anawim might obtain management over the Peace Mennonite property. One of the churches we sent the letter to asked for more information about our financial accountability. This is my response:

The fact is, up until this point, Anawim has only received less than 10,000 a year. With this budget, plus "in-kind" donations, we have been able to maintain three places of worship/meals and a community house. Now, with this new opportunity, should the Lord provide it for us, it will no longer be a "family budget" ministry, with minimal financial accountability, but a larger income. With this in mind, we are meeting with an accountant tomorrow to try to set up guidelines for financial accountability, and to set up our books in a proper way, which has not been necessary before.

If you have any recommendations of what you think we ought to have for financial accountability, please let us know. We have not, up to this point, been "money people". We've been collecting donations and getting them out the door as quickly as possible-- housing, feeding and spiritually feeding people with all of our energy. And while not cutting back on any of our ministry, we plan to add more ministry in. For this we need not only finances, but we need counsel to help us provide balance to our finances, our volunteers and our ministry growth. Any help you could give us would be welcome.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some Reasons Why the Homeless Stay Homeless

This is an article posted on End Homelessness. On the original site, there are links for every reason given:

End Homelessness 18 Reasons

18 Reasons Why the Homeless Stay Homeless
by Joy Eckstine

Keeping people out of homelessness — and thereby preventing the ailments that only going unhoused can cause — is far preferable to asking people to pull themselves out of it. Once people become homeless, the transition back to housing, and sometimes work and society in general, is almost impossibly difficult. Here's why it would be so hard if it happened to you.

1) If your ID is lost and stolen, good luck replacing it, especially since 9/11.

2) If you're employed, you may have to choose between sleeping inside and keeping your job. Many shelters have curfews that do not accommodate swing shifts or night shifts.

3) Until that first paycheck, how will you afford to get to work? Both gas and public transportation cost money.

4) Your job skills might no longer be relevant in today's economy.

5) Once you are looking for a place to live, your landlord will probably question your lack of recent rental history.

6) It's hard enough to save enough money for first and last month's rent and a security deposit. You might be charged a double security deposit if your landlord is even willing to rent to someone who was previously homeless.

7) Good luck finding affordable housing at all.

8) If you are one of the 60 percent of the homeless who are disabled, it is a very long process to receive federal benefits and you need to plan the time to be denied and then appeal. If you work at all during that time period, you will be denied.

9) Do you even know if you are disabled? Severe head injuries (pdf) may affect your memory, concentration, organization, speech and temper. Lack of insight is a hallmark symptom (pdf) for many psychotic disorders.

10) After a period of homelessness, you might have a criminal record from "status crimes." These are crimes that arise from having to do things in public that housed people have the good fortune to do inside, such as sleeping, sitting, eating and peeing.

11) You might get ill and not have access to healthcare.

12) If you have an addiction (pdf), it might spiral out of control.

13) If you have any history of trauma, you might find that being homeless worsens your PTSD (pdf).

14) Good luck getting help from former friends, acquaintances or neighbors. Most people are as afraid of homelessness as they are of a contagious disease.

15) Once you are ill, you might die. Homeless people are four times more likely to die prematurely (pdf) than housed individuals.

16) You might be a child.

17) You might be unable to work or on a fixed income due to your advanced age.

18) Shelter staff, social service providers, prospective employers and landlords might assume you are a drug-addicted mentally ill criminal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Opportunity For Peace

This is a letter I sent out to many supporters of Anawim and community leaders in Portland.

,Anawim Christian Community
June 9, 2010

The Need of Rockwood
Rockwood is the north neighborhood of Gresham, and it is in desperate need. It has the highest crime rate in Oregon, and it has dragged Gresham to be called the most violent city in Oregon. There is gang activity, a large amount of thefts, a high rape rate and shootings are common.
In the East Multnomah County in general, homelessness has risen. In Gresham, there are approximately 300 homeless folks, when only 15 years ago there were about a hundred. These homeless folks are not, for the most part, people who have transitioned in. Rather, these are folks who were raised in Gresham, fell into bad times and stayed there, even though services for them are few, and they have not exactly been welcomed by the community.

Location, Location
One of the half dozen churches offering services for the homeless in Gresham is in the midst of Rockwood. Just about a mile away from the central crime area, nestled between low income and middle-income areas, stands the building of Peace Mennonite. It is known in the neighborhood by the large Red Barn in the midst of its 2 ½ acres. Peace tried to connect to the middle-income folks, but most of those who went to church attended the large drive in churches in Gresham and Boring. Peace’s congregation lost their energy and closed in May, 2010.

However, Anawim Christian Community, a community church for the poor and homeless still meets in that building, still serving the needy in East Multnomah County.

A Vision
There is the possibility of Anawim obtaining the former property of Peace Mennonite Church. The Mennonite Conference makes the decision as to who manages the use of the property. Anawim has a vision, not only for their own congregation, but for the community of Rockwood. First of all, we would make the property available for community use. We would have a produce drop off for the community and open the large area of soil for community gardens. We would establish a peace center, which would help educate and train people in non-violent ways of dealing with conflict. We would have a number of different ethnic churches, as well as a new congregation especially formed to target the needs of Rockwood.

We would also be able to assist the needs of the homeless-- needs that aren’t currently met. In cooperation with other churches, we can open up a day shelter for them three days a week, which would allow them a place to be outside of community eyes, to get a shower, to meet some basic needs and even to find some work. In the winter, with other church partners, we would be able to open up a small overnight shelter for singles, which would be the first of its kind in East County. And we would continue to provide a unique worship opportunity for the homeless.

Making The Vision Happen
This vision is only an opportunity. The Mennonite Conference still has to give us permission to manage the property. However, there are two ways you might be able to help us.

1. We need to show that we can financially support the property. That will cost approximately 2500 dollars a month that we don’t have right now. If we could obtain pledges from churches or organizations as to what they might be willing to give us to see this vision come to pass, we can assure the Mennonite Conference that we would be able to maintain the property and utilities for the usage we want to see happen.

2. We would like to obtain letters from community partners stating that they support this vision. If you live or minister in the Rockwood/Gresham area and would like to see a community center established for the well-being of the community, please send us a letter in support of this vision.
Thank you for your support. If there is anyone else whom you think might want to support this project, please pass this letter on to them as well.

Steve Kimes
Pastor of Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams
Portland, OR 97227

Personal Note

It's interesting that my blogs slow down every summer. For those who think I'm not as interested in blogging, that's not the case. The fact is, I have trouble sleeping every summer, waking up at 6am every morning, no matter what time I go to bed. This makes it more difficult to keep up on my writing. I'm going to try to keep up, though.

Pray for me, it's a pretty busy summer.

Homeless Community Meeting

Over the last year and a half, the East Multnomah County homeless community has been meeting together occasionally to discuss the needs of the community and what the community plans to do in order to meet those needs.

Last year we met in March, and the primary objective stated was to begin a day shelter in Gresham. This objective was realized in January this year. Three churches besides Anawim opened up a room one day a week for the homeless to have a place to be where they won't be kicked out of, or concerned that they would be reported as dangerous or illegal. Of course, to exist without a place to be IS illegal in Multnomah Co, according to the camping ordinance. So for churches to offer a place for the homeless is to allow the homeless to be legal, for at least that period of time.

This last week, we had another of our regular meetings, and the homeless determined that they didn't care for how security has been handled at the day shelters and Anawim. They feel that it has been too lax, and those who break the rules-- especially the rules about violence-- should be given more severe discipline rather than just leaving for the day, and there ought to be a difference in discipline between those who begin a fight and those who are defending themselves. So a sub-committee was formed, made up of Linda, Dano and John Fagerson, and they will determine suggestions for the different places as to security measures.

They also want to have a broader meeting next time, inviting not just the homeless, but also those who are working in the day shelters to try to develop new policies for the shelters.

This is what ownership looks like: taking on responsibility.