Interfaith Housing Initiative General Meeting Minutes

November 1, 2012

 1. Bob McKeon welcomed everyone and offered regrets from Archbishop Richard Smith who was unavailable to attend.

2. Introductions of everyone present (approximately 35 attending, several regrets due to bad weather).

3. Updates:

a) Interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build – 120 people from many faith groups participated on days throughout May. Although the planning time was short, the project was judged to be successful. Planning to do this again in May 2013. Jackie from CSS spoke of her experience spending a day working on the Habitat Build site.

b) Homeless Commission – Jay Freeman

– need to stop the demonizing of non-market housing in local neighborhoods

– need to distribute affordable housing in neighborhoods throughout the city:

rental market is heating up, vacancy rate is coming down which can lead to more


– need to focus on the distinction between emergency shelters and long term accommodations

– need to talk about prevention strategies related to homelessness

c) Homeward Trust

– Homeless Count took place on October 16

th with 300 volunteers covering 400 shifts

– numbers are still being processed with a final report coming out soon

– Homeless Connect took place on Sunday; October 21st with over 1,800 folks served and 70 service providers participating

– progress to date with Housing First – 2,130 people housed with a 84% retention rate

d) No Room in the Inn – Don Mayne

– December 2012 campaign is in support of renovations at Seniors’ Safe House, an elder abuse shelter in downtown Edmonton operated Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton

– Over $500,000 has been raised through No Room in the Inn over the past 13 years from Edmonton churches in support of affordable housing

e) Homefest

– it is organized annually by the Edmonton Coalition on Homelessness and Affordable Housing (ECOHH)

– posters were distributed for this year’s event which will be held on November 4th at

St. Faith’s Anglican Church.

f) Southside Homeless Outreach – Pam Reichenbach

– new Neighbour Centre is opening

– Grand Opening scheduled for November 12

– partnering with Homeward Trust

– in the process of hiring a new Executive Director, look for the posting

4. Congregational Workshops – Brian Kiely

– have conducted 12 workshops in Edmonton, more to come (with Sister Mary Clare)

– attempting to educate and empower faith community members at the Grassroots

– workshop includes a promotion and volunteer recruitment for Welcome Home

– preparing a “cheat” sheet of homily notes for preachers on the theme of addressing

issues of homelessness and affordable housing

5. Welcome Home – Sr. Mary Clare

– update on progress to date, training sessions underway

– presentations from those participating in Welcome Home

Debbie J. – a Welcome Home participant

Sr. Roseanne Favreau SCE – a Welcome Home volunteer

6. Next Steps for the Interfaith Housing Initiative – Group Reflections

– identify congregational housing “champions” in every congregation

– look to the lectionary of scripture readings to make a link with housing themes

– have testimony/witness talks from Welcome Home participants and volunteers for gatherings in local congregations

– include information on Welcome Home participants and volunteers in Church/faith community newsletters and community newspapers

– come up with a new name for WH “participant” and “volunteer;” e.g. befrienders, good neighbors

– create events and opportunities, where for small congregations to work with larger congregations there is a sense of being part of something bigger

– use City Hall for Interfaith Initiative meetings and public events

– congregational workshops are not enough, need to move out to the wider community

– address challenge to become more multi-faith, break down perceived barriers to working together,

homelessness is not a faith specific problem

– Interfaith stories are good news that are attractive to the media

– many of the members of our congregations are involved in civic service clubs, find ways to reach them out

7. Adjournment at 12 Noon

Next General Meeting to be called in the New Year.

IFHI Steering Committee Meeting – November 21, 2012

Present: Don Koots, Audrey Brooks, Mary Clare Stack, Fraser Williamson, Bob McKeon

Regrets: Jay Freeman, David Kunin, Mark Stanley, Pam Reichenbach, Rick Chapman

Summary of Discussion

  1. Meeting notes from Oct 22, 2012 Steering Committee meeting were approved.
  2. General discussion on the Nov 1, 2012 General Meeting.  Overall feeling that the meeting went well.  Attendance was about 30.  Several called saying that they could not attend because of the bad weather.  The focus of the meeting was on Welcome Home (WH) and the Congregational Housing Workshops.  The high point was the presentation by Debbie J. (Welcome Home Participant), and Sr. Rose Favreau sce (Welcome Home Volunteer).
  3. Sr. Mary Clare provided an overview of the Congregational Housing workshops that have been held in different parts of the Edmonton region in recent months.   Attendance has varied, but there has been good energy at these workshops.  One suggestion was to have WH participants give a personal presentation for congregation members.  Mention was made that it is often difficult to get a participants to speak at multiple events.  Some have significant health challenges.  One approach might be to produce a video at one event that could be used at subsequent events.
  4. Mary Clare spoke about progress to date in the Welcome Home program.  There is a challenge because more participants have signed up than volunteers from faith communities.  There was a discussion about reaching out further to identify potential volunteers.  Some potential contacts:

the Service Learning Network at U of A, the Jewish Community (David and Carmit), Anglicans (Rick Chapman), Christian Reformed (Mike van Boom), Lutherans (Synod Office and Trinity Lutheran), Buddhists, and the Taoist-Tai Chi group.  To reach beyond the Christian groups, it was suggested that a meeting be set up with Netta at the Interfaith Centre.  Mary Clare agreed to make contact and update the list of Interfaith signers of the March 17, 2011 public statement so that they can be re-engaged around WH and the Congregational Workshops. 

1.   To raise the profile of work our Interfaith Housing initiative, there were other suggestions:

  • Encourage  WH volunteers to be “ambassadors” for housing concerns in their congregations
  • Seek to identify a congregational rep/champion in each congregation
  • Name a special annual Interfaith Housing week
  • Use faith periodicals and newsletters to feature stories of WH (e.g. the story on WH in the Western Catholic last fall)
  • Make better use of drama and social media, especially with youth
  • Audrey Brooks will contact a representative from “Make Poverty History” at U of A

 2.  Follow through on Brian Kieley’s initial work to produce a preaching guide on homelessness and housing.

3.  Revise the congregational action guide (a short term update and a longer term revision).  Work to make the guide more inclusive using examples from different faith communities. Present guide is seen as having much of a focus on Christian examples. Bob is taking the lead.

4.  Work with Homeward Trust to put on a workshop on Aboriginal Awareness early in the new year. Late January was proposed as a good time.

5.  Take advantage of the 2nd anniversary of the signing of the Interfaith Housing Statement in March 2013 by involving faith leaders in a special general meeting.

6.  Encourage Steering Committee members, IF statement signers and all supporters of the Interfaith Housing Initiative to become a housing champion and sign on as personal  or institutional supporters of the 10 Year Plan to Eliminate Homelessness   on the new website of the Edmonton Homeless Commission  

7.  Remember the Second Annual Habitat Interfaith Housing build is scheduled for May 2013.

Next Steering Committee meeting will be scheduled in 2013. No date was set.

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