Edmonton Faith Communities Provide a “Welcome Home” to Help End Homelessness by 2018
March 17, 2011
Edmonton’s faith communities have joined forces through the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative to formally pledge their support for Edmonton’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
And members are volunteering a real helping hand by partnering with some of the hundreds of Edmontonians like Max to make sure the transition from the streets to a home is successful.
“I was used to having people around me all the time, and now I’m here alone,” said Max, who has been in his own house for four months. “It’s been positive because I’ve had to get away from some people on the streets, but it’s still lonely.”
Combating the loneliness is the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative, involving over 100 people from 20 different religious traditions who have joined forces with the Homeless Commission to establish beneficial connections and real action.
Through the new Welcome Home program, volunteers are partnered with a recently housed person or family to help connect them with existing service agencies, offer companionship and make them feel part of a community that cares.
Adjusting to a new life off the streets can take time – and for many it can be a lonely experience. They’ve left behind their social network, and have yet to build a new one. The Welcome Home program builds on existing initiatives to fill the gap.
Enbridge, in partnership with the United Way and the Homeless Commission, has pledged to support Welcome Home for the next two years, with a $100,000 directed United Way donation in the first year.
“Implementation of our 10-Year Plan is demonstrating that homelessness isn't an intransigent problem; over 1,300 people have made the journey from hopelessness to home,” says Jay Freeman, Executive Director of Edmonton’s Homeless Commission. “With the help of the faith community we can truly welcome them home.”
The Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative also released the new Congregational Housing Action Guide to help others get involved in ending homelessness. Many congregations already have a relationship with front-line agencies, helping with supports for the homeless and people who are newly housed. The Action Guide brings together their experiences into a clear resource that details different ways to ensure each of our neighbours has a home.
The faith communities have a challenge for everyone in the capital region. “The commitment to end homelessness—and not just manage it—is an incredibly challenging goal that can only be realized through the active engagement of all sectors of Edmonton society,” says Bob McKeon, the Associate Director for the Catholic Archdiocese’s Office for Social Justice.