Joined in Partnership, United in Prayer
Yesterday morning I had the privilege of attending an interfaith home blessing for the SeVerna Apartments, an affordable housing project near the Capitol Building. The event started off with an intimate interfaith prayer in the living room of Mrs. Washington, a resident of the SeVerna. Outside, we heard from a wide range of community leaders.
One speaker, Yvonne Williams, is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Bible Way Church, which has been developing affordable housing projects including the SeVerna Apartments in the area for over four decades. The SeVerna Apartments were made possible through the use of a local housing trust fund. Bible Way Church is a model for the rest of the country and for Congress in implementing a housing trust fund.
Bible Way Church is an example of how the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) can and should function. The NHTF creates a dedicated source of funding to build, preserve and rehabilitate housing for low-income people. The lack of affordable housing is a real problem affecting millions of Americans. The generally accepted definition of affordable housing is no more than 30% of a household’s annual income. An estimated 12 million households currently pay over 50% of their annual incomes. A household with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford a market-rate rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States. The National Housing Trust Fund is an important program that has the potential to expand affordable rental housing to extremely low-income households by 3.5 million units over the next ten years.
The lack of affordable housing is a problem we know how to fix. As Mrs. Williams said yesterday morning, we just need to get started. Subsidized housing not only stabilizes individuals and families, but can revitalize neighborhoods; and with over 630,000 Americans homeless, the organized faith community is calling on Congress to fund the NHTF at $1 billion, providing quality and affordable homes to 3.5 million extremely low-income households over the next 10 years. Join the faith community—take action now, and urge Congress to fund the NHTF at $1 billion by the end of the year.
We joined in partnership with the faith community for a week of action, and ended the morning united in a communal prayer:
Sovereign and merciful Creator, Giver of life: You formed the earth and filled it with an abundance of riches. Yet thousands of our brothers and sisters live each day without dignified, affordable shelter, and millions struggle to keep a roof over their heads. We live in a world unaware of the value and dignity in every human life, blind to the spark of the diving in every human being.
Help us to attend to the difference between charity and change; that we may both help to provide shelter and affordable housing, and change the structures that swell the numbers of those living in poverty. In your providence, may we meet the challenge of making a home for every human being. In these challenging times help us to be good stewards and neighbors to one another, to sit and enjoy together the banquet of abundance that you intend for us all.
Though we profess different faiths, we discern together that your compassion is for all and your love unites us in service to one another. We pray together in the confidence that you are with us and we ask your holy blessings as we pursue our work on behalf of those in need.