Several members of the Care of Creation/Social Justice Team have begun to explore several issues centering around the lack of low-income, affordable rental housing across synod territory, now made worse in the northern areas where some landlords have evicted tenants (even entire apartment buildings) to accommodate higher paying tenants. The team notes that the demographic of those seeking low-income housing is also broadening to the lower-middle class, and in some cases, to middle class folks. People continue to lose jobs and to be laid off. Also, emergency housing is not plentiful. On July 25, team members met with the Rev. John Richter of Diakon and Greg Rhodes, a Diakon board member and builder of townhouse communities, who expressed the desire to explore how he could use his expertise in possibly helping congregations address this issue in some way. The group began asking the following questions, which they plan to explore in the coming months:
- Where in the synod are there congregations with under-used or unused real estate which might undertake God’s call to a ministry of investing in and providing safe, affordable low-income housing by converting the unused part of their facility into apartments for those in need – and at the same time help to ensure their facility’s sustainability through a modest stream of income?
- What kinds of services to those in need – who become tenants of a community of faith – is that faith community capable of offering to them?
- How could a few modest projects – even some regular “sawdust” ministries like that of St. Luke, Bloomsburg – help assure a decent standard of living for folks in the community who live in sub-standard housing? How might congregations collaborate in doing so?
- How could the creation of synodical team or non-profit serve as a resource/encouragement to congregations as they discern/carry out what God is calling them to do in terms of this kind of ministry?
Those interested in knowing more or participating in the discussion around these issues going forward can contact Pr. Karl-John Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-524-9778 or Beth Yenchko at email@example.com or 717-579-3845.