September 28, 2010

INTERFAITH HOUSING CONSULTATION

September 28, 2010

MEETING SUMMARY

9:00 a.m.          Welcome by Bob McKeon, Associate Director, Office of Social Justice

9:10 a.m.          Archbishop Richard Smith: Orientation to the project

  • Task to form consciences
  • Call to compassion and action
  • What is the plan? Where do we go with this? How do we get there?

9:15 a.m.          Prayer by Julien Hammond

9:20 a.m.          Bob McKeon: Follow up from the May meeting

  • in a way the conversation started/ in another way still starting
  • wealth of diversity: faith, social action groups
  • Contact list? Please sign up – list continues to grow
  • today is a working meeting
  • information in folders includes:
    • info of what other cities are doing
    • draft statement – conversation starter
    • draft Welcome Home proposal
    • Should we meet again? How so? Whom?

9:25 a.m.          Introductions

9:35 a.m.          Update by Jay Freeman

  • Year & half since launch of 10 year plan aimed at ending homelessness in Edmonton
  • Plan based on a shift from managing homeless populations to housing first model
  • Video presentation on 1st year of the plan: target 150 homes – 3 times that many in first year

9:47 a.m.          Revised draft Interfaith Statement and Action Guide for Faith Congregations

  • Bob read the text aloud, overview of study guide
  • Is this the right way to go? Is there more or less that should be offered?
  • 20 minutes for discussion at tables

Summary of Small Table Discussion Points

Shared Interfaith Statement – feedback from table discussions

  • Needs stronger Faith – theological statement
  • More of a challenge to be committed and stay active – to keep communities accountable
  • Point people more directly to action guide
  • More commitment around working together. We will work together. Challenge ourselves
  • Where will statement go? Public? Each other? Politicians? Agencies? All?
  • Assist homeless people – more than eliminate homelessness
  • Include an executive summary (key elements/key concepts) of the 10 yr. plan
  • Brochure as an appendix or background document
  • Using the DVD to accompany presentations
  • Good statement – great to talk about the involvement of the greater community
  • Facilitating access to current information about initiatives underway
  • Provide info on ‘theology’ of homelessness and commonality between faith groups
  • Timing of the Interfaith Statement
  • Generally, we agree with this document. We would like to see the ‘why’ or the motivational aspects
  • included: faith/religious motivation – up front
  • Well put together
  • Beginning of 4th paragraph: we are already committed and are coming together; a more positive introduction.
  • Stronger Statement re: shared commitment based on our religious traditions – “All of our [religious]
  • traditions affirm the worth and dignity of each human being and impel us to act in order to serve
  • those in need.”

Action Guide: feedback from table conversations

  • Specifics are helpful
  • Keegano – intentional community, (Mill Woods)
  • Action strategy to address NIMBY
  • Education (show DVD in churches)
  • Support from Private Corporations and Industry
  • Have homeless people in this process join their voice to this process.
  • Strengthen call to compassion
  • Examine our prejudices and our readiness to welcome others
  • Strengthen our belief that we can do this!!
  • Get clergy on board – all groups that have clergy – church leaders
  • What is the best way to reach and share with the wider community
  • First step – start with your own
  • Need to go back and see how the eleven approaches work.
  • Do we need to determine our priorities to help discern the next steps? This group, congregations?
  • Need clearer action statements vs. general commitments
  • Conduct education info sessions over next year
  • Church can change NIMBY
  • Culture – incorporate community groups
  • Utilize ‘expert’ resources to help with conversation
  • Avoid formation of ‘camps’/sides
  • Keep ‘new’ homeless & youth on the table
  • Come together as churches – don’t do it alone
  • Raise Awareness – Borrow Videos/DVDs, see firsthand (listen to the stories)
  • Increase donations (In Kind) e.g. furniture, etc.
  • Clearer way to involve congregations – groups in telling their stories
  • Remind government & social service agencies that housing – though significant is ONLY a first step.

We must continue to address related issues such as addiction, financial stability, literacy, and

integration into the community.

  • We commit ourselves to challenging our faith communities to continue our present initiatives and to
  • find new and creative…
  • Add a study aspect – encourage each [faith] tradition to examine its own commitment to eliminate
  • homelessness.
  • Expand point 8 with more examples of community support – beyond housing and basic social
  • services.

In addition, these points were jotted on the flip chart pages from table conversations:

  • Building on what you said – we need a big‐group check‐in in 6 months. What have we done so far?
  • What else can we be doing that we aren’t already doing?
  • Theology of Human Rights as general start point?
  • There is something in UN Declaration of Human Rights.
  • 10:20 a.m. Return to plenary session
  • Intro to what the statement aims to do?
  • Edmonton city or Greater Edmonton region
  • Opinions from plenary conversation:
  • Hierarchies and personal commitments are necessary for this project to be successful
  • We are stronger together than as individual congregations
  • An Edmonton statement will have effect in the surrounding municipalities
  • This is different; we don’t need to motivate the government, the government is spurring us to
  • action; the statement is great; focus isn’t up but out onto our committees.
  • This statement/project requires us to get to the structural roots of the problem, not just addressing
  • specific issues
  • What questions do we ask of candidates in the civic election?

10:45 a.m.        Break

11:00 a.m.        Jay introduced the ‘Welcome Home’ concept/project.

  • Naming needs is only part of the project; mobilizing the communities is important
  • One barrier/issue to work against: loneliness of individuals and families who are newly housed
  • Sponsorship model – similar to refugee sponsorship – companionship – friendship – not about proselytism.
  • This model has succeeded in many US cities, in Calgary and internationally
  • This plan is doable – looking for approval in principal
  • Requires staff (Volunteer Manager), coordination of volunteers, etc
  • Hopeful signs from the City to commit resources to this project

11:10 a.m.        Small group discussion

  • Stronger faith statement – can we name God in this document? Like the Toronto multi faith
  • statement?
  • Shared statement – could direct people more directly to the study guide – to congregations, to
  • public, to politicians
  • Were looking for measures, targets, goals – built in accountability
  • We can come together or we will…

11:25 a.m.        Plenary – Welcome Home

Summary of Small group discussions

  • It’s crucially important to train/educate volunteers who work with homeless people.
  • Listening Skills
  • Issues of vulnerability for the homeless person and the volunteer. (Look @ C.P.E. educ.)
  • Safety issues
  • Knowing what to expect
  • Screening Volunteers
  • Training Volunteers
  • What is the…connection with current faith based workers – volunteers
  • How can faith communities address the social isolation
  • Homeless – invitations to be included
  • Community – Pot luck dinners?
  • Exciting concrete possibility
  • Opportunities for advocacy
  • Training – volunteers need debriefing, support, to realize it’s a long term commitment – 6 months to
  • 1 yr. minimum.
  • Need to realize richness these people bring
  • Community needs training – awareness – make it less scary
  • Teach – we are better off because they have become part of us
  • Advantage to not be a professional – can become friends
  • Geographic component – match in area
  • Volunteers as families?
  • Volunteers can assist in a ‘cross‐pollination’ of understanding the needs in our city. i.e.: University
  • Area & 118 Avenue (Whyte Ave. & Alberta Ave. speak to each other)
  • Is there an age range for volunteers? Could youth volunteer?
  • Clarification of volunteer training
  • Clarification: emphasis on local, neighborhood faith communities.
  • Who is the interfaith org. that will run ‘welcome home’?
  • Include specific examples of how the program will function & serve
  • Where will funding for staff salaries and programming come from?
  • What will the role of a volunteer in this organization be? [clarify specific tasks volunteers will be
  • responsible for.]
  • How do we differentiate the role of ‘Welcome Home’ from that of social services?
  • Agenda‐free interaction [meeting people where they’re at]
  • Role of volunteer beyond individual interaction to community involvement without proselytizing.

Loneliness will become a major challenge if not addressed now – already signs

Agreement in principle for Welcome Home proposal – affirmed by those present

11:40 a.m.        Next Steps

  • Could we establish an (interfaith) steering committee to provide future leadership?
  • What is the role of our ‘body’? Working group? Board of Governors? Communication Forum?
  • Could we commit to at least the Action Guide? Concrete, practical…
  • Would love to see an interfaith initiative – not just denominational, not isolationist – could lead to
  • other initiatives
  • Likes idea of steering committee – how do we get there?
  • Is there a list of agencies, etc., that could be sent to congregations? (Yes & No)
  • Anglicans are working on a comprehensive list – are willing to share
  • Can we work regionally /in neighborhoods? Already happens – (Yes & No)
  • CSS has assets & resources to lend
  • Contact list will be circulated – people can work/contact each other outside of this forum.

Volunteers for Steering Committee:

Brian Kiely John MacDonald Judy Ganz, Bob Peele, Katherine Douglas, Audrey Brooks, Don Koote, Fraser Williamson, David Kunin

  • If Welcome Home goes forward – Jay will communicate this back through the IF Housing network
  • Possible next meeting? Stay tuned…

Archbishop Smith’s concluding comments

  • Thanks
  • Likes Steering Committee idea – hopes SC will work first on statement and action plan
  • Archdiocesan Communications Office is ready to help
  • Issuing statement is only part of it – message to the City, public – implementation is long‐term
  • If we can really grapple with this issue – other things are possible
  • What is the point of unifying contact for us? City Commission (Exec. Dir. Jay Freeman)

12:00 p.m.        Conclusion/Adjournment

Thanks to Julien Hammond for taking notes and assisting with this report

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