One of our local friends and co-collaborators in our work in the community, King of King's Lutheran Church on Theissen, needs our voices!
(For the direct action.... download the doc at the end of this article. For background reading.... read on!)
King of Kings Lutheran Church has been in discernment about the issue of homelessness in our community for almost three years, spurred by the work of their Social Justice Committee. Affordable housing and homelessness came up in a listening season in 2016 as the issue of greatest concern among our faith community members. Around that same time, folks from King of Kings joined other Clackamas County churches and organizations that belong to the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good (MACG... of which Storyline is now a member too!) with similar interest in the issue to form the MACG Clackamas Housing Team. The Housing Team started doing research on the issue in Clackamas County, meeting with leaders (County Commissioners, Health Housing and Human Services, Community Service Centers) to learn more about the issue of affordable housing, homelessness, and its relationship to the health and well-being of our neighbor. Leaders in Clackamas County affirmed their explorations, and also affirmed that partnerships with non-profits and faith communities were an important means of addressing the shortage of emergency housing.
The Housing Team, including members from other faith institutions, visited other places in Oregon where faith communities were creatively working to reduce the number of people without shelter in their communities. The team found some great models for overnight shelters (Cars, Conestogas, and Tiny Houses) in Springfield and Eugene in Lane County.
Along the way, they met interested partners at Providence Health’s “Better Outcome’s Through Bridges” (or B.O.B.) Program who were working to addresses housing as a health issue. Providence offered to help look at creative models to support vulnerable populations and offered to provide expertise in medical case management for an overnight shelter program.
In the fall of 2018, KOK began a discernment process to see if they wanted to pilot a
form of Safe Overnight Shelter (SOS) on their property. After a multi-month process
within the congregation, KOK decided to apply for a conditional use permit with
Clackamas County to allow up to three cars to remain overnight on their property. Car camping residents would be referred through the county’s Coordinated Housing Access (C.H.A.), would undergo a background check, and would need to follow the guidelines set forth by the congregation for temporary residency.
Here's where YOU come in! King of King's is in the community information feedback part of the conditional use permit process. They need US (Storyline folx) to help come alongside them as a contributing voice to Clackamas County's feedback collection.
In communities all over Oregon, homelessness is deemed to be one of the most pressing issues of our time. King of King's feels called to find a way that their community of faith can help our neighbor, especially the most vulnerable. Though they are a relatively small congregation, they have a parking lot and are located within a reasonable distance to health care (Providence Milwaukie) and other services. In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus doesn’t just fix the problem of a hungry multitude for the disciples. He begins the process by saying, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37). King of King's feels called to not just talk about the problem of homelessness, but contribute, albeit in a small way, to the solution. By piloting an overnight shelter program, a handful of folks will have a safe place to be each night without having to worry about being asked to move along. A handful of folks will have a location where medical case managers and sustainability case managers will be able to find them to help them find more permanent housing. A handful of folks will have a chance to catch their breath. AND.... they may even blaze a trail for other communities of faith and organizations to join their efforts, putting their people and their parking lots to good use as well.
HERE'S THE ACTION:
At Storyline, we don't have a building of our own, but we do have voices to lend in support of our colleagues and community members who are doing the work of reconciliation and justice. To that end, please take some time in the next week or two to send letters of support to The Board of County Commissioners, especially if you are a resident of unincorporated Milwaukie or the Oak Grove/Oak Lodge Neighborhood. Below is a form letter you can download and make your own.
AND.... if you're interested in learning more about housing justice and how Storyline is already putting itself in to this conversation in Clackamas County, email Sara and tell her where your gifts and interests lie.