Letter from the Executive Director
The Interfaith Assembly addresses the crisis of homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing in two ways. Through our empowerment programs we help those who have been homeless to recover from the trauma associated with their homelessness, and with our advocacy partners we work to “Build the Blessed City Together” and promote public policies that will – produce affordable housing; prevent homelessness, provide important services; and promote income and employment.On both these fronts, there has been much recent activity.
In the area of empowerment, in late 2007 the Assembly received a generous grant in memory of Andrew Stallman which has enabled us to assist three community partners in replicating the very effective life-skills program that we helped to establish in 1989 with New York Catholic Charities. These include "Break Through", established by Mercy Haven, Inc. in Sayville on Long Island; "Rebuilding Towards Manhood" organized by the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica; and in partnership with Congregation Ansche Chesed and other upper west side congregations, the first Synagogue based program entitled Face to Face" ("Panim al Panim"). The Assembly also assisted St. Francis Xavier Church to re-activate its own Education-Outreach Program in downtown Manhattan.We are currently exploring the development of a number of other life-skills program sites as well as working with Fordham University in developing a project to document the long term effectiveness of this program model.
In the area of public policy advocacy, there are three important campaigns that we are currently engaged in: working with Housing Here and Now, the Real Rent Reform Coalition and others in advocating for stronger rent regulations to help stem the loss of affordable housing - in particular, working for the repeal of Vacancy Decontrol which has resulted in the loss of an estimated 300,000 rent regulated apartments over the past 10 years; working with the newly formed Emergency Shelter Network (a coalition of faith community volunteers from the 25 year old faith shelter bed network) and Homeless Services United (the network of drop-in center operators) to revise the City's flawed plan for restructuring the drop-in and shelter system; and, working in support of the initiative of our advocacy partner - the Coalition for the Homeless to end the City's policy of charging rent to families in homeless shelters and subjecting them to unreasonable rules that if violated could result in ejection.
We welcome your help and encourage the participation of your community in any or all of these efforts.
Please explore our website to see how you might work with the Interfaith Assembly to help those who have been homeless to get back on their feet and help to “Build the Blessed City Together.”