Sounding board: Readers share insights on issues
The Eviction Defense Project will help with unlawful evictions.
As we face the demands of our changing world, I want to be real and hopeful with you. The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are far reaching and one of these ripples will be more like a tsunami when it hits.
As we move into fall, the moratorium on evictions—extended recently through Oct. 15—will run out and we are expecting an unprecedented wave of homelessness.
In 2016, evictions were at a rate of 1 in 40 renters and, in order to address this reality, Family Promise opened a walk-in emergency family mass shelter with 60 beds to meet the demand. Today, one in three renters are behind on payments and could be facing eviction in October.
Family Promise is currently operating two 24/7 locations and are turning away families because of lack of capacity. The reality is that the community is not prepared to respond to the wave of homelessness that is coming.
Despite this reality, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because we have not been given a spirit of despair, but one of hope-filled endurance. We are fortunate that we can see what is coming and have a small window to adjust to meet the demand. Here at Family Promise, we are currently setting up the internal capacity to expand.
We need the help every one of our supporters and partners during this time.
We need supporters to dig deep and make significant financial investments in the lives of homeless children and families.
We need our volunteers to champion the cause of homeless families with children.
We need you to hold Family Promise guests, staff and volunteers in your thoughts and prayers.
It is going to be hard.
It will not be over fast, but together, we can endure.
Since June, Family Promise helped resettle 115 people in 43 families and helped place 21 people into permanent housing.
Other agencies in place to help respond to a surge of evictions are the Spokane WorkForce Council, which has $1.4 million available in rental assistance. Catholic Charities will have $500,000 in rental assistance.
Emma Hughes and Joe Ader, Family Promise; familypromiseofspokane.org
As we prepare for the fall, I want to encourage you to continue to do any and all spiritual practices that will help you be grounded in the power of the Holy Spirit. As a reminder… Our churches are not "closed," but we have in effect left the building while in-person worship gatherings are on hold. My prayer is that we will do the necessary internal and spiritual work that will allow us to continue to adapt to the changes swirling around us. May we be granted the gift of a fresh imagination that will help us deal with the fallout from this global pandemic as well as to work for racial equality in all of our communities!
The Rev. Gregg Sealey, Inland Missional District - Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church
I have been thinking about the votes I cast from Kazakhstan. In the fall of 2008, I was in training in the Peace Corps. I got my Washington state ballot on time and I voted in the presidential election. I was surprised and concerned that volunteers from other states, swing states like Michigan and Ohio, hadn't received their ballots.
The Peace Corps staff organized a write-in ballot for any volunteer who hadn't received a ballot from their state and made the effort to send those ballots back to the U.S. in the diplomatic pouch, so that those votes would be received and counted. That's democracy. That's going the extra mile to ensure that someone else's participation in the governance and direction of our country is not impeded.
In 2010, I was still in Kazakhstan and I got my state ballot again on time, in my remote village where I was pretty much the only person who ever got any mail. I took it home to my host family to show them because I thought they'd be curious. They were. They had never seen a ballot before. They had never voted before. Kazakhstan is a "democracy" where no one ever actually votes and the same man has been "re-elected" with 90+% of the "vote" since Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union.
Our democracy is only as real as our participation in it. If you want to access your right to vote and aren't sure how, talk to me. If you want to talk through your frustrations with the ticket and a framework for making choices as a voter, talk to me. If you want to get involved in community organizing work here in Spokane for affordable housing, good jobs, childcare access or meaningful healthcare, talk to me. If you want to learn about the hows and whys of protesting, talk to me.
Being a democratic citizen, like being a disciple of Christ, is an endless journey of learning and becoming, showing up, navigating loss, and recommitting to the work. It takes all of us. I'd be honored to be on the journey with you.
The Rev. Katy Fitz Shedlock, West Central Abbey; Highland Park United Methodist Church
August 15 should have been the day we were gathered together in Riverfront Park for the 26th year of Unity in the Community. It's hard not to have held it. We look forward to connecting our beautiful community every year.
It isn't about the free school supplies or even goodies and giveaways that our vendors provide. That draws much of the crowd—by design.
The roots of Unity in the Community run deep in bridging the divide between people in Spokane. It is the time we spend to learn something new about our neighbors. It is that curiosity and education that draws us closer. When we better understand each other our hearts and minds form a connection to each other.
Join us in uniting our community every day. Be curious about another person's background and perspective before you share your own. Be open to sharing yours with the intent to give kindness and love to one another. Above all, help our youth in this journey. They are already forging the future for us all.
Next year it will be Aug. 21, 2021!
Love and light from your Unity in the Community organizers, April Anderson, Mareesa Henderson
In the past few months, we have all awakened in a strange new world, a world full of terms like shelter in place, social distancing, PPE and essential workers. While it is easy to see and feel all the parts of daily life that are missing and harder than we could have imagined, a closer look shows us some clear ways in which the Spirit has been present, lurking where we might least expect.
The Spirit is there, for example, in the profound and unprecedented sense of community and solidarity we are witnessing, a greater awareness of the inequality of safety and health in poorer groups and racial minorities, especially the wake of killings, like that of George Floyd.
What does the Spirit have to say and teach us here? One way we can easily see the Spirit at work in our midst is in a Spirit of energy and unpredictability and creativity. All around us we are witnessing an unprecedented blossoming of creativity and inventiveness in response to the limitations that the pandemic has imposed.
It started with a flurry of home stitchers and others making masks and other protective equipment needed and has spread to ways to use internet connectivity for education, meetings, even parties across the country and across the world. We've seen birthdays and graduations with caravans of cars and in drive-in theaters, telemedicine professional appointments, countless musicians and entertainers sharing their gifts with us online, not to mention those who lean out their windows to sing together or cheer the first responders at an appointed time. There is even a group of RV owners sharing their "rigs" with doctors and others trying to respond to the medical needs of this time. "See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19)
As we live through this time of dying to the way things have been, not knowing yet what the future will hold, we do know that we are held gently in God's hands and that the Spirit is at work in our midst, stirring the embers of our world.
Kathy Finley – author of eight books including Savoring God: Praying with Our Senses
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, September, 2020