Rev. Kimberly Scott (courtesy photo)

I am a cradle United Methodist from Biloxi, Mississippi where my family and I were members of St. Paul United Methodist Church until we relocated to Las Vegas when I was 10, and joined Zion UMC. My father served as the Lay Leader and my mother as the children’s choir director at St. Paul during our time there.

Looking back, I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without the church. Many seeds for ministry were planted in me as a young child, singing in the children’s and youth choirs of St. Paul and Zion UMC. But most importantly, my life within the church instilled in me a sense of justice.

I have just stepped into the role of Pastor at Grace UMC here in Los Angeles, more proof that God isn’t done with me yet. And from this role, I can see clearly that there are grave injustices around housing security that are impacting families across L.A. County, including those in my congregation. In short, our families are getting pushed out of their homes in the name of profits, and unless we do something about it at the statewide level, more and more of our families will become homeless.

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The eviction moratorium ended in Los Angeles on August first. According to Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) 137,000 Los Angeles Households still have back rent, averaging around $3,300. These renters are overwhelmingly Black and Latino. If families in Los Angeles, where we have some of the best renter protections in the state, are struggling to keep their housing, the rest of the state (including cities within our own county) is faring far worse.

This is moral failing.

In L.A. County and across California, faith-based organizations want to partner with affordable housing developers to build much-needed housing on their own land. Almost 40,000 acres of land owned by faith-based institutions are developable. Almost half of that land exists in areas markedly lower in poverty and highest in opportunity.

Faith-based centers are often moral community anchors, which have a unique ability to bring help and attention to critical issues such as the housing crisis. That is why we are championing SB4, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, and SB 567, the Homelessness Prevention Act, as part of our Home is Sacred legislative platform through LA Voice and the PICO California network.

Passing SB 567, The Homelessness Prevention Act, would help keep people housed by helping families get their homes back after no-fault evictions, and strengthening enforcement laws to ensure corporate landlords don’t continue to put families out on the street. Let’s work together to build a California where all people can live in dignity, and keep home sacred.

While Black non-Latinx Californians are only 5.5% of the state’s population, they make up over 25% of people experiencing homelessness. Passing SB 567 would have a direct impact on the safety and wellbeing of Black families by helping them stay in their homes. But it’s not just staying in one’s home, it’s making sure there is affordable housing for everyone.

The Affordable Housing On Faith Lands Act (SB 4) seeks to require that a housing development project be “use by right” on any land owned by an independent institution of higher education or religious institution on or before January 1, 2024. This would enable congregations to build affordable housing on their properties, thereby supporting the community and redefining what it means to serve a community of faith.

Faith requires action. As faith leaders in our communities we have a unique opportunity to uplift these critical bills from the pulpit and rally our congregations in the fight through the California Assembly. Home is sacred, and our congregations can be living sanctuaries for those in need.

The Rev. Kimberly Scott is the lead pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.