Last night, University Baptist hosted an IMPACT Justice Ministry Celebration. Around two hundred people from twenty-four different congregations gathered in our sanctuary to receive a report on the progress being made in youth unemployment and homelessness.
Of particular interest to me is the report from Rev. Al Horton of First United Methodist Church, who serves on the Homelessness Research Strategy Committee. One of the committee’s findings is that while there are many agencies that work on the challenge of homelessness, there is very little cooperation among these agencies to move over 200 homeless adults and 500 homeless children into permanent housing.
At the Nehemiah Action gathering last April, the City Manager and County Executive committed to gather leaders from these agencies to form a round-table to reduce homelessness. That roundtable convened a couple of weeks ago, and the group decided to make centralized intake and service referrals a top priority, so that agencies can share information to get their clients the services they need. Also, representatives from the City and County will be added to the board of Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) to offer additional oversight and accountability. Lastly, both the City and County committed to providing funds that will support centralized intake and collaboration, which is something that IMPACT did not ask for.
IMPACT has become a catalyst for our government officials and our agencies to work together in coming up with a systemic solution to a systemic problem. It has the potential of making a long-term, positive contribution to the men we serve during PACEM.
I’m grateful for the work of IMPACT in this area, and for the involvement of our church members who give their time and money to this cause as an expression of their faith. If you have any questions about what IMPACT is doing in addressing homelessness, please feel free to contact me!