The following statement was developed by an interfaith workgroup of religious leaders from the Portland metropolitan area as part of the Bridging the Gap Interfaith Initiative on Family Homelessness. The statement outlines the crisis of homelessness in Multnomah County, endorses the goals of the Home for Everyone United Community Plan to End Homelessness in Multnomah County, and calls upon elected leaders and public officials to take bold steps to end homelessness, especially child and family homelessness. A delegation of religious leaders will be setting up a meeting with elected officials to convey these concerns in the near future. In view of the current budget cycle, please consider adding your name to the list of endorsers by May 15 for maximum impact. The form to add your name can be found in the sidebar to the right of this paragraph. A list of endorsers can be found below the statement.
Interfaith Statement on Housing Justice
As people of faith, we have been given a sacred charge to uphold justice for all people. We are responsible for the creation of a community where everyone belongs, where diversity is valued, where dignity of the most vulnerable is safeguarded, and where all people have the opportunity to achieve their full human potential and to thrive.
To our shame, our neighborhoods do not reflect these values of justice. Despite the good efforts of many, poverty, homelessness, and hunger are on the rise in the metropolitan area, especially among the most vulnerable: families with children, women, and youth under age 25. Low-income families and individuals are being displaced from their homes, neighborhoods, schools, and houses of worship. Our region is increasingly characterized by economic and de facto racial segregation. The areas in which the poorest and most vulnerable among us are compelled to live frequently have fewer public amenities such as parks, sidewalks, community centers and libraries, lower levels of teacher experience in schools, less employment and economic opportunity, and higher rates of crime and violence. All this tends to reinforce the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
We therefore stand firmly behind the central proposition of the “Home for Everyone United Community Plan to End Homelessness in Multnomah County”: that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home. We support and affirm the goals of the plan, which include prioritizing the most vulnerable, promoting racial justice and equity, and creating robust mechanisms of transparency and accountability to ensure that resources are used in the most effective and impactful way possible.
We also call upon our elected leaders and public officials to take bold steps to address the crisis of homelessness in our region. Most especially, we call for robust measures to end child and family homelessness. To this end, we are asking our elected leaders to:
Take whatever steps necessary to ensure that at least 30% of all new subsidized units are set aside for people earning less than 30% of median family income (MFI), and to use all means at their disposal to incentivize and leverage private developers to create more dedicated low-income units.
Create one or more new permanent and year-round shelters for families experiencing homelessness, with sufficient capacity such that no family is turned away.
In view of rising rental costs, significantly expand funding for rent support and eviction prevention for families at risk of homelessness, and ensure that robust wrap-around services are available to these families to assist them in attaining lasting stability and self-sufficiency.
Make significant investments in public amenities, public schools, and public safety in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income families, especially in East Portland.
We pledge our support for these efforts, and reaffirm our commitment to continue and, where possible, to amplify our efforts to create a more just and compassionate community where everyone has a place to call home.
Sign the pledge online here: