Homeless Providers Seeing Crisis With the Lack of Shelter Beds as #HomelessSabbathNJ 2018
During the weekend of December 14-16, 2018, multi-faith congregations in Union County, New Jersey will participate in a multi-faith “call to action,” the Third Annual Homeless Sabbath Weekend.
- The Homeless Sabbath Weekend offers congregations the opportunity to show faith in action by bringing attention to their neighbors experiencing homelessness.
- Congregations will collectively pray for all homeless people and for the commitment to end homelessness in our community.
- Participation in the Sabbath means sharing a prepared prayer or reading as part of a service, holding a drive for blankets or other necessities, performing a short play or incorporating the theme of homelessness into a holiday display or live scene.
- Registered congregations will receive materials to help make their participation as simple as possible during this busy holiday season.
What: Third Annual Homeless Sabbath Weekend in Union County
When: Sunday, December 14-16, 2018
Where: Faith Communities Across Union County
Who will be participating: Congregants across Union County
Community Access Unlimited, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Family Promise of Union County, Gateway Family YMCA, HomeFirst, Iris House, the Urban League of Union County, the Union County interfaith Coordinating Council and Monarch Housing are organizing this year’s Homeless Sabbath Weekend on behalf of all people who are homeless in Union County.
Last year, almost twenty-five congregations from across Union County participated in last year’s Sabbath and the goal this year is to increase participation to fifty congregations.
On the night of January 23, 2018, 459 people, including 41 people without shelter, experienced homelessness in Union County, according to NJ Counts 2018, the Point-In-Time count. The Homeless Sabbath Weekend organizers believe that no one should be homeless for the holidays or at any time of the year.
“The housing crisis is a humanitarian issue that we cannot ignore. Those of us providing homeless shelter and services witness the onslaught of desperation in numbers that are rising on a daily basis.”Geleen Donovan, Executive Director, Family Promise of Union County
- The lack of affordable housing in Union County has precipitated a crisis causing working families to become homeless. Due to cuts in state funding, shelter beds are being lost across the state and specifically in Union County.
- The loss of the Plainfield YMCA shelter and the closure of Salvation Army shelter beds in Perth Amboy and some shelter beds in Elizabeth forces families and individuals experiencing homelessness to live in their cars, in storage units and in abandoned buildings.
- These individuals and families are being abandoned and forced to live in places that we would all consider uninhabitable.
The Homeless Sabbath Weekend event aligns with “Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Vigil,” hosted this year by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1430 Park Avenue in Plainfield, NJ on December 20, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
The Vigil will take place the night before December 21 is the longest night of the year and is a time to remember all people experiencing homelessness who died in the past year due to their lack of shelter or care.
We are encouraging all who will be attending the vigil to bring donations of new mittens, scarves and hats for families and children.
“More often or not, most of us have the opportunity to say good-bye to friends and family on or after our passing and have closure. The annual Homeless Vigil offers the opportunity to remember those who pass on the streets. St. Mark’s Parish embraces the opportunity to have a hand in helping God’s children in any way we can.”Pastor Angelo Wildgoose of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Plainfield