More than 100 religious leaders from Los Angeles joined Mayor Eric Garcetti last Thursday and signed a pledge to help in the fight against homelessness.
“It’s on us to push through the fear and the misunderstanding on homelessness, and it’s on us to find pathways out of homelessness for our brothers and sisters,” Garcetti said at a news conference with the religious leaders standing behind him on the south steps of City Hall. “It’s on us to lead by example and change the fate of the least among us, and its time that we open our doors without fear to create safe spaces for everybody.”
The Days of Compassion initiative commits the faith leaders to enlist their congregations to participate in various efforts, which could include hosting mobile showers in their parking lots, organizing tours of permanent supportive housing or offering day storage to homeless people for their belongings.
The initiative comes as city and county residents have approved billions in spending to go toward homeless programs and after the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released numbers in May that found homelessness had jumped 20 percent in the city in 2016 and 23 percent in the county.
Measure HHH, which was passed by city voters last November, is expected to raise $1.2 billion to build housing for the homeless through a bond measure. Measure H was passed by county voters in March and is expected to raise $355 million for homeless programs annually for 10 years through a sales tax increase.
“Scripture teaches that we ought be careful to entertain strangers, for in so doing we may be entertaining angels unawares,” said Bishop Clement Fugh, presiding prelate of the 5th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church. “At no place are these words more appropriate than when spoken in the city of angels. Let’s be intentional and inclusive in extending hospitality.”
Garcetti also announced his Housing Resource Matchmaker, a program that will match philanthropists or organizations interested in funding housing for the homeless with a mission-driven builder.