affordable housing

Weekly Wrap 6.19.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. A Call for a National Lament
"Lament … is not a passive act. Many Christians may hear the word lament and assume that feeling bad about suffering is the purpose of lament. How sad that people died. How sad that the shooter had a mental illness. But lament moves beyond bad feelings for the privileged. ... Lament voices the prayers of the suffering and therefore serves as an act of protest against the powers."

2. Recalling Nine Spiritual Mentors, Gunned Down During Night of Devotion
“The nine victims — three men and six women, who ranged in age from 26 to 87 — were leaders, motivators, counselors and the people everyone could turn to for a heap of prayer, friends and relatives said.”

3. WATCH: Jon Stewart on Charleston Shooting
“This one is black and white. There’s no nuance here. … Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them who wanted to start some kind of civil war. The confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for confederate generals. And the white guy feels like he’s the one who’s feels like this country has been taken away from him.”

4. WATCH: Changing the World Through Faith & Justice
Sojourners is hosting The Summit this week, and the conversations have been powerful. To catch all of today’s sessions, WATCH the livestream throughout the day and follow along on social media using #summitforchange. You can also view recorded sessions from the past two days. *Recordings available for a limited time.

Weekly Wrap 6.12.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Masculinity Gets Modern Makeover in Latest Getty Images Collection
Tired of seeing stock images that reinforce traditional gender roles? Getty Images is (finally) changing that with the help of Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn.org.

2. The Human Right to Have a Home
As Congress plans to slash funding for housing assistance programs, Catholic bishops in the U.S. are protesting, arguing "housing is a human right."

3. WATCH: ‘What Are You?’ — Multiracial in America
Listen to how multiracial Americans react when they're asked "What are you?" (Hint: I's usually not well).

AUDIO: The Battle for the Anna Louise Inn

As Sojourners editorial assistant Dawn Araujo recounts in “No Room at the Inn,” from the June 2013 issue, Christians in Cincinnati have stood up to a corporate giant trying to bully the Anna Louise Inn—a small, local nonprofit that provides affordable housing to single women. 

But Christians aren’t the only ones fired up.

The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and Occupy Cincinnati have joined the battle and—as Dawn found out—so have the 17 interfaith denominations of the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, which adopted the cause as part of its campaign for affordable housing.

Listen to Dawn’s report about this battle for the Anna Louise Inn.

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No Room at the Inn

REV. SUSAN QUINN BRYAN walked into a meeting of the Friends of the Anna Louise Inn fully prepared for a room brimming with people. Instead, Bryan and the five other Presbyterian pastors she had brought with her doubled the meeting’s total attendance. Bryan was stupefied.

When she moved to Cincinnati in 2005 to pastor Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, several of her congregants had taken her to the Anna Louise Inn, claiming it as one of the things they loved most about the city. And yet, in its time of need, hardly anyone had come to the Inn’s rescue. It would take several minutes before an even more startling realization came to Bryan.

“As [people] began talking, I thought, ‘Where’s the church? How can the church stand silent while this is happening?’” she said. “So I organized a breakfast and just sent out emails to all the clergy I could find.”

About 25 Cincinnati faith leaders came to Bryan’s breakfast, and out of it emerged an ecumenical force, crossing denominational divides to rally behind one of Cincinnati’s most revered institutions.

THE BATTLE FOR the Anna Louise Inn began in 2007 after Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB), the social service agency that operates the Inn, decided the Inn needed updated facilities.

The Anna Louise Inn has provided housing for single women since the turn of the 20th century, when women from rural areas began migrating to cities for work. In Cincinnati, single women faced rent discrimination from landlords who would charge them more for extra security and for the use of a bathroom apart from the one used by male tenants. Other housing was available, but it was usually in unsafe neighborhoods.

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Seven Ways Home

IN 1996, I co-founded a tutoring and mentoring ministry for low-income students in partnership with a church in Pasadena, California. My visits to student homes helped me recognize the problem that the high cost of housing posed for children’s long-term success. Without decent, affordable housing in good neighborhoods, multiple families were squeezed into tiny apartments concentrated in one part of town—a situation that could breed gangs, homelessness, crime, and soaring dropout rates. I began to ask myself what the church might be doing to find solutions to this complex issue.

Here are seven viable ways churches and other groups are responding to today’s housing crisis.

1. Financial literacy and foreclosure prevention. With thousands of homeowners losing their houses through foreclosure, one of the biggest priorities is figuring out how to keep folks in their homes. As Alan Mallach, author of A Decent Home, argued this summer in Shelterforce magazine, U.S. housing dollars should focus on helping families to stay in their homes by creating a robust support system to help homeowners with repairs, long-term home improvement planning, good mortgage products, ongoing counseling, and emergency assistance. Mallach also argued for providing more low-income rental units in high-demand cities such as Palo Alto, California, (but not in places like Las Vegas, where vacancy rates are high and rents are low).

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