~Barriers & Breakthroughs~
“I want to say how inspired I am by your heroic stories.” Those were Mike’s words of reflection as we went around the circle. Over 30 people gathered to have a conversation. The frame of the conversation was simple: what are the barriers to housing, what made it possible to obtain housing and what you change about the way things are?
We live in “the world as it is” but are called to live into “the world as it should be” according to our values as people who follow Jesus. Members of our Core Team hosted the event, leaders from other ICON (Inland Communities Organizing Network) participated and over 20 current and former residents of Our House shelter led the conversation.
Our Core Team has hosted four of these dinners and house meetings. This last one intentionally included leaders from other ICON institutions who want to work together to do something to reduce homelessness. All our ICON institutions do something to help people without shelter: providing food, supporting Hope Partners shelter, housing people without shelter in churches in inclement weather, and more. We have yet to work on preventing homelessness and reducing the number of people who experience it.
We are beginning the work of prevention and reduction. ICON has skill sets to bring; community engagement and leadership development are just two. A group of leaders from across our organization met Feb. 15th to begin the work of developing a strategy, an action plan. What are the plans our cities have for addressing homelessness? Where is the resistance to implementing these plans? What about Measure H on the ballot in March? We hope to be an effective voice in changing the conversation around homelessness in our communities. We plan to develop the relational power to bring the values of our institutions to the tables of decision making.
We are just getting started. Perhaps you have a passion for compassion for people who are without shelter. Let me know if you would like to be part of this journey.