Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is not just a school of thought, it’s a school of action. As part of our commitment to create a more just and humane world, we research and share successful models of faith community engagement on the issue of homelessness.
The unique, multi-year project increases the ability of the faith community to address the issue of homelessness through:
- research and documentation of the most effective models of congregational-based social issue education, advocacy and service, with an emphasis on engaging faith communities in the rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness and recruitment of new private landlords who are members of the faith communities;
- creation and distribution of new educational and landlord recruitment materials designed for use in faith settings;
- workshops on homelessness, advocacy, and exploration of a range of congregational approaches to engaging in rapid rehousing and private landlord engagement models;
- technical assistance and support around the creation of local faith based rapid rehousing and landlord engagement pilots, and
- evaluation and dissemination of the project’s activities, outputs, and outcomes.
The School of Theology and Ministry educates and forms women and men as leaders in Christian ministry to serve, challenge, and heal churches, communities, and all creation. As a school of practical theology, it integrates pastoral practice and academic learning to prepare students to address the needs of churches and the social injustices encountered in ministry. The school’s experience as educator and convener, combined with its growing expertise in interreligious dialogue, make it particularly well-suited to undertake this interreligious, issue-based project.
About the Project
In July, 2011 the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) was awarded the first of two generous grants from the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation for the Faith and Family Homelessness (FFH) Initiative. Through the project, the school partners with Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical congregations from King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties to promote education, advocacy and efforts toward ending family homelessness.
To date, the project has supported more than 150 trainings and events around the causes of homelessness and effective measures to address the issue. By tapping into the organizing and advocacy potential of the participating faith communities, STM has ignited powerful new voices, resulting in hundreds of new housing advocates who demonstrated their newfound commitment to ending homelessness. The project has also inspired several new homeless support programs and private landlord engagement efforts, with several others in the pipeline. Over the past three years the FFH project has sparked increased local and national interest and energies for engaging faith communities in efforts to end homelessness.
One of the most important aspects of the project is the connection created between caring congregation members, and the agencies and policymakers responsible for the homeless and housing response system. The project guides caring congregations towards the most effective role for their community within the local systems, creating unique opportunities for dialogue, understanding and action involving policy makers and service delivery agencies.