May 2018 Newsletter

The greatest problem is not with flat-out white racists, but rather with the far larger number of Americans who believe intellectually in racial equality  but are quietly oblivious to injustice around them.

- Nicholas Kristof

Portland Spirit Led Justice Alliance 

By Rabbi Debra Kolodny, as reported by David Groff 

Portland boasts at least fourteen progressive faith-based coalitions and organizations representing hundreds of faith leaders and thousands of faithful. Several focus exclusively on dialogue and one-off events. Others focus on activating faith leaders on immigrant accompaniment, legislative, and economic justice campaigns.  The Interfaith Alliance Against Poverty focuses on alleviating poverty.

We have all seen that the November 2016 election unleashed a flood of faith leaders and communities who show up to rallies, vigils and marches, lending our voices to the good fight and giving money to organizations representing targeted communities. Yet the vast majority of these activities are not targeted towards concrete goals or part of ongoing campaigns. The Spirit Led Justice Alliance seeks to focus and amplify work with clear justice outcomes

 This consortium of interfaith coalitions will add to the already wonderful coalition work in two ways. First, it will bring us together as activists on issues of shared concern. Then, it will engage us in monthly ceremony, ritual and prayer, to ensure our long-term sustainability and resilience.

Every event will have spiritual leadership in its planning and/or execution. Spiritual traditions across all races, religions and cultures will be engaged. At first, you will hear about activities led by existing faith-based coalitions and organizations like the Faith and Labor Committee of Jobs with Justice, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, Ecumenical Ministries and the Oregon Coalition for Christian Voices. After a time, coalition representatives will explore engagement with other justice campaigns led by impacted communities.  You are invited to join these efforts!  Be on the lookout for emails in May! 


History of Interfaith Alliance Member St. Andrews Catholic Church

by B. Gregg   

The proclaimed mission of St Andrews is to be “a visible presence of Christ in our culturally and racially diverse neighborhood, rooted in the Gospel and nurtured by liturgy, prayer, and the community of faith. As such we commit ourselves to work with the poor, the powerless, and the oppressed for the liberation of all; to seek justice, compassion, and peace in our lives, community and world; and to proclaim and celebrate God’s unconditional love for all.”

In October 1908, with financial help from “relatives in the old country” and friends from St. Patrick’s parish across town, Irish Catholic immigrant families constructed their first parish facility at NE 9th & Alberta Streets.    The chapel was on the top floor, the parish hall was in the basement and St. Andrews school, operated by five Sisters of the Sacred Heart, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, was on the first floor, serving approximately 100 students. Irish born Father Thomas Kierman, just 24 years old, was appointed pastor and served St. Andrews for 27 years until his death in 1934.

In 1920, the building caught fire destroying the school and chapel floors.  A large tent was set up to serve as the school on weekdays and church on Sundays for the next 2 years. The school was rebuilt in 1922 with a convent on the second floor and church services were held in the basement.  In 1929 the church was re-built by Peter J Pfeifer, according to French Gothic design.   Preifer also worked on Madeleine and All Saints parishes, but declared St. Andrews his “masterpiece.”

During the 1920s-30’s, immigrants from Germany moved into the parish.  In the 40’s African Americans drawn to work the shipyards located in the neighborhood, one of the “few areas where non-whites were allowed to live in Portland.”  Later Filipino families settled in the parish.  School enrollment increased to 256 in 1958.  When enrollment dropped in 1985 the school was closed, but reopened  in 2001 to accommodate the Jesuit-run St. Andrew Middle Nativity School.

St. Andrews Community Center serves the many needs of the parish and community.  It is funded by an annual auction, a tradition begun in 1973 by the late Neil Kelly.


April Interfaith Alliance Monthly Meeting

By B. Gregg

St. Andrews Pastor, Fr. Dave Zegar, warmly welcomed members and guests of the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty for their April 2018 monthly meeting.. He led the gathering in prayer, asking for  God’s wisdom  as we work together to achieve the dignity and justice to which  all human beings are entitled.

Interfaith Alliance Co-Chair, David Groff introduced speakers Matt Huff, Pastor of Central Nazarene Church and Andy Olshin, member of Congregation Beth Israel.


The Agape Village

Born in Maryland, raised in West Virginia, Matt   graduated from Antietam Bible College in 2005 with a B.A. in Pastoral Studies.  In 2007 with a Masters in Intercultural Studies, he completed his Master of Divinity at Nazarene Theological Seminary.  He has led Central Nazarene Church in southeast Portland for the past four years.

His church sits on a property of 10 acres and ever since the church opened its doors, there have been houseless people living on or nearby.  A couple of years ago, while “brainstorming” what it means to love God and to love our neighbor, they researched what other churches were doing across the country to help with their houseless neighbors.  They learned that many were sponsoring tiny house villages and  decided to do the same.  Thus was born “Agape Village”

“The ultimate goal is create a village which involves the entire community in giving our neighbors a hand-up.  It will be a self-governing village, modeled after Opportunity Village in Eugene and Dignity Village in Portland.  The goal is “to provide a safe place to transition into permanent housing and a healthier life.”  

They hope to construct 20 tiny houses, at a cost of $10,000 each, on the 10 acre property. Houses will be built of cedar, on a solid slab of cement.  They will be solar-powered, with a tiny sink, and heated by hot water.    8’ ½” wide x 16’ long x 13’6” high, each unit  will have a front porch,  windows on all sides, and  be equipped with cell phone chargers.  Bathroom and laundry facilities will be provided nearby.


Shelter Pods

In “Jewish Life Oregon”, Deborha Moon reported on her interview with Congregation Beth Israel member, Andy Olshin. (excerpts below)

She said that “Many, many years from now, Andy Olshin (on right in photo above)  hopes his tombstone reads: “He built a thousand homes for the homeless.”

“To date the coalition he created has built four “safe sleep shelter pods,” which Andy says are “a place to live, but not home. It is temporary shelter.”  Two of the mobile shelters have been deployed to Hazelnut Grove, a homeless village near Overlook Park that has the blessing of the city, at least for now.

“The other two are spending 10 weeks in the parking lot of Congregation Beth Israel – not to house anyone, but as a display for other faith groups and nonprofits that might accept future pods in their parking lots to shelter homeless families.

“Andy’s goal is to have 300, 3-pod clusters, within the next 5 years, many located on church properties.   One reason he has focused on putting pods in the parking lots of faith organizations is because people in faith communities “care about other people. They help – that is part of being a faith-based organization.”

“The project began when Andy met with City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Portland Business Alliance president and CEO Sandra McDonough.

“Rabbi Cahana joined Andy on Nov. 2, 2017 to testify before the city council on a zoning amendment to make it legal for religious institutions and some nonprofits to put the pods in their parking lots if they meet certain conditions. The amendment passed on second reading.”

WHAT CAN INTERFAITH ALLIANCE CONGREGATIONS DO?

Church Parking Lots - Permit use of ten spaces of the church parking lot  to set up a 3-pod  homeless village  for a period of six months.

July 16 – August 17, 2018:   Agape Village Construction - Assist in the building of 20 tiny homes on concrete slabs on the Central Nazarene property. Ways to help:

  • Contribute toward the cost of materials

  • Join volunteers doing construction

  • Provide food/refreshment for workers

  • Adopt a house @ $5,000-$10,000

  • Befriend Agape Village Guests

For more information:

Parking Lot Pods:  Andy Olshin,@ Andrew.Olshin@comcast.net

Agape Village:  Pastor Matt Huff @mhuff@portlandcentralnaz.org 503-760-6272


PRIMARY ELECTION MAY 15, 2018    

The Interfaith Alliance on Poverty joined this year with the League of Women to present Multnomah County Candidate Forums during April.  In addition, Voter’s Guides were distributed to congregations within the Interfaith Alliance. VOTE411.ORG

IF YOU CARE about Affordable Housing—Education—Jobs-- Health Care-- How your tax dollars are spent,

SEND IN YOUR BALLOT TODAY!

Now is THE TIME to let YOUR VOICE be heard…

Choose the candidate who most shares your views!

Vote FOR the measures you approve, 

Or AGAINST those you do not. 

 “Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”    Abraham Lincoln.


“PEOPLE’S PLAN”  by PAALF 

(Portland African American Leadership Forum)

PAALF has requested that the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty endorse the “People’s Plan”.  After study, the Interfaith Alliance Advocacy Action Team has decided to support this action and will be submitting the endorsement for the consideration and approval of the Interfaith Alliance General Membership at their meeting on May 3. 

 “Please read the letter from PAALF Co-Chairs and/or visit the whole plan at https://www.paalf.org/paalf-peoples-plan/ , and think deeply about what the Interfaith Alliance should decide at our next Monthly Meeting.” Rae Richen

PAALF VISION The Portland African American Leadership Forum envisions a world where people of African descent, enjoy the rights, resources and recognition to be a thriving, resilient and connected community. 

PAALF MISSION The Portland African American Leadership Forum helps our Black community imagine the alternatives we deserve and build our political participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives.


Letter From PAALF Co-Chairs

 “The concept of a Black Utopia, one that promotes and fosters a Black community that taps not only into its legacy of resilience but is truly one afforded the opportunity to thrive, can be a symbol of hope. Not a hope that is shaped in wistful “what ifs…?,” but a hope that is connected to true possibility. The People’s Plan seeks to contextualize the data used by policy makers in the City of Portland and the State of Oregon, by juxtaposing the understanding of where we, the Black community, are and where we could be. 

“The People’s Plan recognizes that it is not enough to re-illustrate the disparities facing our communities in the areas of health, education, housing, administration of justice, environmental justice, etc. There needs to be space for, and an ongoing conversation regarding, what the Black community could be with the elimination of barriers. What would be our ideal expression and realization of community? 

“The Portland African American Leadership Forum strives to be an organization that brings leaders together to address the needs of our community, and the individuals and families it is comprised of. As an organization, we aim to be clear that the term “leader” can accurately be applied to the mother who advocates for her child; to the community elder who continues to remind us of the journey; to our organizational executives and CEOs. 

“PAALF recognizes we need the multitude of our collective voices at the table in order for us to realize meaningful change in our community. The work we need to do is not something that can be done in a vacuum. Therefore, we seek a variety of inclusive ways in which to engage our community members to participate and benefit from the work of PAALF. The goal of the PAALF People’s Plan report is to empower the voices of all of our Black community’s leaders. Through this lens of empowerment, we recognize it is our community’s right to shape the way our community looks, feels, and how Black people of Portland experience it. Through the unapologetic assertion of our voices we will be the ones to shape the policies that impact our Black community.

“Anything that lacks the breadth and depth of our collective voice will fall short in the policies that seek to foster a Portland the Black community has truly shaped and designed. It is incumbent for the Black community to continue to push for our voices to be heard and our recommendations to be actualized. PAALF will continue to be a part of this clear mission to create the space for “. Robin M. Johnson, MS Executive Committee Co-Chair Portland African American Leadership Forum.


Historic Black Williams Project Walking Tour – Saturday, May 12 – 9 AM and Thursday, July 19 – 6 PM

You are invited to participate on a 3 mile walk along N Williams Avenue between NE Broadway and NE Killingsworth to view 40 objects of art displayed by local artists celebrating the Black history of the area.   Meet at Dawson Park, NE Stanton St and Williams Avenue.  Learn about the “Hill Project” area currently being considered for development.  


POVERTY TRAINING: 

How has your childhood affected your life journey, your attitudes, and your actions?

By B. Gregg

At the March 1 meeting of the Interfaith Alliance, Poverty Trainers, Kathryn Moran, and Jessica Rojas, led Interfaith Alliance members to participate in a “PRIVILEGE WALK” to discover how they arrived at their present place in society

 For each question, participants were asked to take one step forward, or one step back.  Were you every hungry growing up?  Were you taken to ballets or symphonies? Did your family own a business? Was it expected that you would go to college?  Did you attend college?  Were either of your parents an alcoholic? Were either of your parents incarcerated? As the questions continued, participants made their way back and forward across the room. 

 By the end of the walk, a few were standing all the way across the room, others were standing pretty close to the wall from which they’d started, and the majority were scattered somewhere in between.  All better understood how place does matter, opportunities and challenges make a difference.

At the April 5 Interfaith Alliance meeting, Kathryn and Jessica discussed the results of the “walk” and explored the impact of   “privileged” and “marginalized” life experiences as well as the differences between generations and those experiencing “situational vs. generational” poverty.


Oak Leaf Mobile Home Report 

By David Albertine

I was invited to attend the tenants meeting with St. Vincent de Paul regarding changes planned for Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park.   It was both informative and heartwarming to see tenants trying their best to understand and begin to take ownership in the changes going on within the park.  Terry McDonald, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul spoke and answered questions.  The dialogue was respectful, but plain spoken and direct.  About five tenants were present as was Ally, the new social worker assistant and Janet, the park manager.  Also, a city person was also there.  Here is what I learned of present plans (subject to possible change).


1)  The park at present has 34 spots for mobile homes.  It will be reduced to 22 spots including parking and a community center.

2)  Asbestos, demolition and removal of nine mobile homes will take place by the end of April.  The house on the property is uninhabitable and will be removed once permits etc. are received.

3)  Occupied mobile homes will be assessed to determine whether they can be removed or will need to be demolished.  Residents will receive new trailers.  I am a bit unclear on this, but it appears that no present trailers will be salvaged because of their age.

4) Owner occupied mobile homes will be evaluated and dealt with on an individual basis.

5) St. Vincent’s is trying to work on an opportunity for residents to purchase their new mobile home.  The certainty of this is yet to be determined.  However, rents will remain the same for all residents who continue to rent both during the transition and after tenants return.

6)  The city of Portland is expediting the permit process.  Hopefully final permits will be issued by mid-june.  As soon as permits are issued there will be an effort to help residents leave as quickly as possible.  St. Vincent’s is working hard to make the transition time as short as possible. Transitional housing has not been found at this point.

7)  The plan is to totally empty the park, provide new water, sewer, roads and basically start again from scratch.

8) Residents will be provided pods for storage.  Pods will be removed off-site.

9) Park rehab will take five months.  The goal is to have tenants back in by mid-November.  Any delay in permits or moving people will cause a delay in return.

10)  Tenants said at the meeting would welcome help from us with moving etc.

Possible Implications for the Alliance

Members of the Transitions to Stability will need to meet with Giena Baines, Ally and possibly Janet to develop a support plan.  From what I gathered at tonight’s meeting the main needs will likely center around the actual physical transition moves, both out and in.  We will need to determine specific needs of residents and determine whether we can be helpful. 

 It is yet to be determined, but it seems likely that we will need to ask our congregations for limited time, but specific help to accomplish the task of moving.  Other social and support needs will also be needed, but that is unclear at this point.  I anticipate we may organize in some support teams.  Again, some of this is a moving target, but this is what I see based on my observations at the tenant’s meeting.  I suspect we will need the help and support of all our Alliance.  We will continue to clarify our participation.


NOVEMBER 6, 2018 BALLOT TO BAN ASSAULT  WEAPONS

On April 30, Oregon Measure 43 Campaign Initiative Petition to Promote Public Safety for All through banning the sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines held a signature-gathering training session at Augustana Lutheran Church.  If you would like to become involved or  learn more about the efforts of this group, contact Rev. Mark Knutson mark@augustana.org


Cully Housing Action Team (CHAT) April 3, 2018 Meeting Highlights

by Marilyn Mauch

CHAT/PSU Videos  

Two short videos featuring   Cully residents  were presented by a PSU film instructor and her students.  

First video focused on an interview with Linda, a single senior living in Cully. Her mobile home had received new windows through the Federally funded Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Thanks to the weatherization, Linda is now warm and comfortable during winter months.

WAP services are available at no cost to households at or below 200% of the federal poverty income level. Primary funding for the program is from the U.S. Department of Energy with other funds from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, utility companies and the Bonneville Power Administration.. As I understand, WAP funds are very limited and there is a waiting list for Cully residents to receive these services.  

The second video depicted the turmoil the Normandy Apartment residents experienced when a developer purchased the building and raised the rents by more than 100 percent. The rent increase resulted in residents having to immediately look for alternate housing and new  mid-term school placements for their children.

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly  is now considering requiring landlords to give advance written notice to their renters before selling the building.  The advance notice would enable renters or the City to consider purchasing the building to remove it from the market, keep the tenants in their homes, avoid disruption in children’s education, and keep the housing affordable.

Sale of Holgate Manor apartment building (82 apartments) at SE Holgate and 37th Avenue  

Residents were told on March 1 that remodeling is needed which will mean a large rent increase and potential displacement while renovations are completed. The residents have asked that the Portland Housing Bureau purchase the apartment building using some of the $258 million housing bond monies and convert the property into permanently affordable housing. Residents represent a diverse community with eight languages spoken; some have lived at Holgate Manor for decades.   Many residents are low income or fixed income and elderly. See https://www.change.org/p/mayor-ted-wheeler-help-holgate-manor-tenants-stay-in-our-homes.

Those present at the CHAT meeting voted to have a letter sent to the Housing Bureau signifying CHAT’s support for the City to enter into negotiations to purchase Holgate Manor.  

Briefing by Metro Council representatives regarding upcoming Metro bond monies to advance affordable housing.  Bob Stacey, Metro Councilor for District 6, announced Metro plans for a bond measure targeted for affordable housing which the regional government hopes to offer voters this November. The dollar amount of the bond is not yet set -- $50 million or larger. Metro has been studying what bond amount voters would support. Bob was accompanied by Jes Larson, a Government Affairs Specialist with Metro and a third Metro staff person. They asked what were the most important needs and features of affordable housing Cully residents would like to see. 

Cully residents and friends expressed the following affordable housing desires. 

-- Environmental concerns – they wanted the housing to be located in safe, clean areas – not in/near brownfields for example

-- Housing for low and lowest income folks

-- Housing that accommodates a variety of family sizes 

-- Have wrap-around social and medical services as needed to support residents, including for the addicted

-- Near to grocery and drug stores and bus lines 

-- Foster a sense of community by providing for example, a community meeting space and play space for children 

-- Could the housing be available for residents to eventually purchase? 

Stacey said that if the Metro affordable housing bond is approved by voters this November, such bond monies might be available for use by nonprofits if a constitutional amendment permitting this is also passed this November.  

Note: Metro manages the boundary that separates urban land from rural land in the Portland region and works with communities to plan for future population growth and to meet needs for housing, employment, transportation and recreation. Metro serves 25 cities in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, as well as unincorporated parts of those counties.


ACTION ALERT

by John Elizalde

Please write or call your congressperson to express your views on the proposed Farm Bill.

April 19, 2018–Organizations across Oregon are calling on U.S. Representatives to reject a Farm Bill that was passed yesterday by the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.”

This is the beginning of a call for action from Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon.  A host of Oregon organizations realize that many of the Farm Bill provisions recently passed by the US House committee will hurt our most vulnerable neighbors.  The bill imposes new and more heavy-handed work requirements on some SNAP recipients that will hinder not help them climb from the pits of the poverty.

The Advocacy Action Team of the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty has studied this issue and concluded that member congregations should be asked to join with other Oregon organizations and reject the Farm bill as passed April 18.  

The AA Team has four criteria it applied to this (and all action items): 

1. It found that SNAP benefits are a profound means that low income people are able to maintain any semblance of a quality of life as they struggle to keep their children well fed for school work and themselves healthy as they work to get out of poverty.  

2. The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization in 2018 and the House Agriculture Committee is the first of the actions the congress will take this year; this version of the bill needs to be stopped soon.  

3. The Interfaith Alliance on Poverty/Advocacy Action Team seeks to join a host of other like-minded organizations across the state working help our neighbors in need.  

4. Most, if not all of the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty members has active anti-hunger efforts that would be further harmed by the imposition of this Farm Bill. 

Please call your representative today.  Do it now!       
https://www.oregonhunger.org/speak-up

Bonnie Gregg