3rd Annual Faith Summit on Homelessness, May 4, 2019

This symposium, sponsored by IHS, had as its goal “empowering ministries to inspire impactful change.” Sponsored by the Episcopal Church in Hawai‘i, Church of the Crossroads, Central Union Church, First Assembly of God, United Healthcare, Christ Church Uniting, and Harris United Methodist Church, it was attended by over 100 representatives from various local religious organizations as well as other agencies working to address homelessness in Hawai‘i. Susan Anderson and Elizabeth Conklin represented the Cathedral. The program included two plenary sessions as well as eight hour-long workshops, of which each attendee could participate in four. There were also posters and tables sponsored by several organizations, books for sale, and art developed by unhoused artists. Here are some pictures and reports from some of the sessions we found most relevant to the Cathedral.

Summit Attendees
Connie Mitchell, of IHS, Chair
Plenery Presenters:
Josiah Vemli Koria, Tyrell's Angels
Carolina Jesus, Shelter of Wisdom
Anna Smith Pruitt, PhD, UH
Family Promise Program Description
Center: Samantha Church, Executive Director, Family Promise
Church of the Crossroads receives the
"Fr. Claude Duteil Peanut Butter Ministry" Award
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Family Promise: An avenue toward meaningful connection

Family Promise provides assistance to unhoused families, including at least one child and one or more other immediate family members. Families are selected using criteria that makes them highly likely to succeed: no drugs or alcohol, no untreated mental illness, no domestic violence. While in the program, families are housed in a host church, which provides them sleeping facilities, breakfast, dinner, and bag lunches. During the day, the families are either at work, at school, or in one of the Family Centers (on Kukui St. downtown, or in a Windward location) where they can receive counseling, child care, use showers or washing machines, and general case management. During their time in the program, they can save money for first/last month rent and security deposit, as their direct living expenses are taken care of by the host churches. There are typically three or families in a rotation (in Honolulu or Windward), and they stay at each host church one week at a time, sleeping on inflatable beds provided by Family Promise. A host church will house the families three or four times a year.

photo: Lina's family
Lena’s family at the Cathedral, with Ann Hansen

This program is phenomenally successful. A family’s average stay in the program is about 70 days. For a number of years, the Cathedral has been assisting a nearby host church, First Christian, and has also sponsored three families by providing a “shallow subsidy” of $3,000-$3,600 for their first year in housing. Our first sponsored family, headed by Lena, has been so successful that Lena is currently the Family Promise coordinator for her home church, Wesley UMC in Kahala. In fact, Lena made a video about her experience that was shown in this session. Learn more about Lena and her family here.

Radical Hospitality: Churches, community groups and service providers partner to offer a one-stop shop

Drop-in center at St. Mary’s, Moiliili

Several churches (Ben Parker UMC, Kailua Daybreak, St. Mary’s Episcopal, and Harris UMC) are providing “service fairs” once a month. These events, typically 2-3 hours long, feature a hot lunch plus showers (a hygiene van), tables of used clothing, and a wide range of services: bus passes, help with legal documents, SNAP applications, Legal Aid, AA/NA referrals, legal aid, and even an official community court for resolving minor tickets. The food is donated by 12 different providers, and the services by various organizations coordinated by IHS. The churches themselves provide the facility and 6-8 volunteers who serve as greeters and manage the clothing donations (which come from the congregation). A local YMCA helps with setup/takedown and provides additional volunteers. Attendance varies, but is typically 20-30 people. This is a great example of how multiple organizations can work together to provide helpful services to the unhoused and poor in our neighborhoods.