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Interfaith Summit on Homeless Youth Focused on Covenant of Engagement
Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti and South LA Interfaith and local community sign a covenant to end youth homelessness
In 2013, the Collaborative began a homeless youth awareness campaign that stemmed from the rise of homeless youth in South Los Angeles and a lack of local resources to provide a safety net. The first Summit informed on the state of youth homelessness and an urgence to respond. The second Summit in 2014 asked congregations to participate in community planning efforts to develop a local plan to prevent and end youth homelessness.
This year’s Summit theme was “Strategies, Solutions, and Supports.” The intent was to rouse the faith community to be active participants in the Homeless No More Community Plan by leveraging their assets and equipping them with ways in which they can be part of a coordinated system of care.
Speakers and panelists spoke of the importance of ending youth homelessness and strengthening relationships with the faith community. Speakers included Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles; Peter Lynn, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority; and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, City of Los Angeles Council District 8 Elect.
Mayor Garcetti was one of the pinnicales of the Summit. He shared his heart-driven reflections on homelessness, the release of the recent 2015 homeless count results, and his personal experience with the night of the homeless count. He suggested that there should be no wrong door for a homeless person or family to get the services and support they need; and that every place within the City of Los Angeles should be a door into solutions.
Daniel Cooper, a 20 year old former foster youth, expressed to the audience his two year journey of homelessness that began at the age of 18. He said that most people didn’t know he was homeless because he remained well-kept. He struggled with finding a place to stay and would often couch surf. Although he had met difficulties securing gainful employment to become self-supporting, he was hopeful and had aspirations of returning to school in the fall.
Cooper’s testimony demonstrated a multitude of touch points with local nonprofits that helped him stabilize. He received emergency housing at Good Seed Shelter, a shelter for young men ages 18-25; ongoing support services and supportive housing with Sanctuary of Hope, a housing and education stabilization program for youth, ages 16-25; and mentorship and employment with the The RighWay Foundation, an employment and mental health program for foster youth.
The Summit also provided plenty of opportunities for the audience to interact with panelists that represented nonprofits and clergy with established faith partnerships for mobilization and engagement or that provided direct services. One of the panels included Reverend Omarosa Manigault, clergy at the historic Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church and former contestant on The Apprentice. She dispelled misconceptions about homeless youth and called for faiths to operate out of love. She conveyed the faith community’s role in deployment, “We will continue to work diligently and faithfully to end youth homelessness in Los Angeles. It is a biblical mandate and we take it to heart. The time is NOW and we are the ones called to do this urgent work!”
The culmination and focus of the summit was the Covenant of Engagement – a promise to do something now to end youth homelessness. It was comprised of a handout illustrating ways for congregations to mobilize and engage and a six foot banner with the heading, “Homeless No More.” The banner was a visual symbolic agreement to act on one’s faith that was signed by Mayor Garcetti, speakers, panelists, and the audience.
Reverend Kelvin Sauls, Pastor of Holman United Methodist Church and Chair of the Collaborative explained, “Our point of departure with the Covenant of Engagement is the acknowledgement and affirmation that every congregation can do something to prevent and end youth homeless in South LA! Through the covenant, there is a commitment to leverage congregational assets with other organizations, elected officials and agencies for collective impact.”
Sauls added, “The covenant of engagement is a clarion call to put our faith in action towards collaborative involvement beyond our comfort zone. Armed with the right information, relevant inspiration, we can mobilize and strategize together for coordinated prevention and intervention. Engagement is a reminder that our faith will not be evaluated by our intention. Our faith will be evaluated by our action to law - alleviate the root causes and real conditions of ‘the least of these’."
The success of the summit left a mark on hearts and minds of attendees. Panelists and attendees Pastors Richard and Shirley Adrian of New Direction Community Programs said, “The summit was a great encouragement for us to inspire and collaborate. For one, to inspire our people to interact with the youth in our ministry and community with a greater consciousness and commitment to help those who are homeless or at risk to become homeless; and to collaborate with other organizations to make the necessary referrals to help meet homeless youth’s needs and move them from homelessness to home for good.”
About the South Los Angeles Homeless TAY and Foster Care Collaborative
The South Los Angeles Homeless TAY and Foster Care Collaborative is coalition of business, government, nonprofits, and residents working to prevent and end homelessness for South Los Angeles’ Transition Age Youth. For more information, visit the organization’
Janet Denise Kelly
Page Updated Last on: May 18, 2015