Update on Associated Ministries, Metropolitan Development Council and the City of Tacoma
- Mike Yoder, Executive Director, Associated Ministries - MichaelY@associatedministries.org
- Many of you have been passionately saying “not here but not where”
- We want to be an organization about where you can be – we think faith-based organizations are part of the solution to where can people be?
- This morning’s News Tribune article (https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article235482667.html ) is very good – a good overview of the debate in the community around this ordinance.
- The Mayor talked about how an ordinance was passed to make it easier for communities of faith to host site. Unfortunately, the City has spent decades pushing the faith community away from that kind of work (How is it said - The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? -ed).
- We’ll need to invest in walking alongside the faith-based organizations to help them be partners and solutions to homeless - this is hosting tent cities, safe parking – sheltering in church facilities – and longer term affordable housing development – tiny house development. Those are too tough for the average lay person in a congregation to navigate – they are just lay people with great hearts and a lot of compassion.
- We need a case worker for pastors and church workers to help them be part of the solution. The City thinks that is a great idea, too
- That is an idea the City is working with Metropolitan Development Council and Associated Ministries. The City Council will need to approve it – in the next few months.
- Hopefully this work will have a lot more people willing to help out
- The city has to put their money where their mouth is – to be great partners, not just expects
- Normally we wouldn’t talk about this because it is so early, but there is enough word about it getting out I wanted to tell you a bit more about this
- Al – what is the role of MDC? Mike – Pam is a woman of faith and believes in this – they are looking to open an encampment on their land. By being an encampment host, they will then be a technical expert to help other groups that want to do this.
- Carolyn? – Will the city pay for port-a-potty (interesting word potty – the noun is probably a child’s version of saying “chamber pot”. But less appreciated is the older adjective potty – meaning crazy or silly. I do rather like the word potty. –ed) ? - Mike – the City has money to support with sanitation and such – but they want the non-profits to make an ask for those services. We are there to help non-profits with that.
- Maureen – mellow wants a review of the temporary shelter ordinance – it is not just fire system stuff an church must have that makes it tough, but you have to be a certified planner to wander through that ordinance. Are you working with the Metropolitan Development Council and the City or Councilmember Mello to review this, or get an emergency ordinance? Limits to fire systems? Mike – that is key to make this work, and everything is reviewable.
- Currently there is one per police sector, and the stability site is one of those in the police sector 1. That stops anyone on the hilltop to do that. The city will pass an ordinance to overtake that. They don’t want the police overwhelmed looking after encampments
- Sheri – why can’t they remove that barrier now? Mike – they (and then I have nothing else in my notes – I must have been so enthralled in the exchange I forgot to take notes. Or maybe this is when I got up to get a mini-cinnamon roll. –ed)
- PJ – Street pastor last 25 years – we supplied the City and the council with people form tent cities – over 20 years ago, and now Tacoma is finally jumping on board. I’m clean and sober for 25 years now. We’ve been suggesting solutions for years, and it is only now that the City is joining in.
- Question – do pastors and churches know they can do this now? Who is going to tell all these churches we are going to make it easier? If I don’t’ know, I can’t do something to help. Mike – that is one of the big gaps – the city has tried to get the word out. We host quarterly meetings – trying to create some energy – 71 church communities – 400+ folks – have attended the meetings. We don’t have staff to help folks navigate, but do long term intensive hand-holding. We need another front line person to help do that.
- Peach – I belong to a faith community that tried and tried to do this. It may just be a stop gap, but the mayor can’t just foist this on the non-profits – this was caused by policies that created our affordable housing crisis.
- Mike – talking points sheet – show up and speak out #3 – where it is written “we see the open shelter for families at St. john’s Baptist” – this was Bethlehem Baptist – and there will probably be more shelters operating there (Because the Bethlehem Baptist congregation, and Dr. Jackson in particular are making good things happen. –ed)
- Kelly – we have so much to say – go the city council meeting – write letter, send e-mails – I’ve seen change happen with activism like this around child care issues.