Jesus Has Left the Building...

And we're following him!      

Sunday, March 29


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our Jesus Has Left the Building and We're Following Him event will not be our typical physical project together, but will be an individual project we can complete on our own. 



Project: Advocate for 360 Youth Services through letter writing campaign

We will write the members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus imploring their advocacy for renewed funding for 360 Youth Services and similar programs. (template and details below)


Background:

In 2020, 360 Youth Services lost nearly $200k in funding for their LGBTQ+ transitional housing program after their US Health and Human Services grant funding was not renewed. 


Why is this important?

Across the country, 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+. 360 Youth currently has 38 transitional housing residents, half of whom identify LGBTQ+. Safe, affirming, stable housing is always a human right, especially now in these uncertain and upsetting times.


A prayer for your letter writing:

We pray that our written words will inspire those with power and with voice to make change.

We pray that our intent will instigate action in the world.

We pray that our spirits are moved to enact justice within our circles of impact.

We pray to be beacons of Christ-light that cast out shadows of injustice, undermine systems of oppression, and bring about a new reign of God's love. 

Amen.


As you write, meditate on the deep connection we feel to our homes, especially in times of worry. 


Take a photo of yourself and share it with us (either on the HOPE UCC Friends page on Facebook or by emailing it to sharehope@hope.org, so the rest of the community can see what you’re up to. Feel free to share the text of your letter in the comments. If you don’t have stamps lying around the house, hold on to your letters until we’re together again, and Erin C. will mail them out for you.


Letter Template:

Click here for the template in PDF, Word, Pages formats or copy from below.




Dear [REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME],


I am writing to you today about an issue affecting my community: the need for safe, affirming housing for LGBTQ+ youth.


Opening (choose one or write your own)

1) The Gospel compels me to advocate for the least of these, and I firmly believe that it is my call as a Christian to champion the housing needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Every person deserves safe and stable housing out of which can blossom a fulfilled life.


2) Jesus commands his followers to provide shelter for the stranger and I am heartbroken that our society continues to neglect the housing needs of the most vulnerable around us. Every person in our communities is entitled to a safe place to rest their head.


3) I believe that safe and stable housing is a human right that should be afforded to every member of our community. As a Christian, I take seriously my call to speak up for the voiceless in our community who are denied safe and stable housing.


Name the issue (choose one or write your own)

1) I was dismayed to learn that 360 Youth Services in Naperville, IL, (www.360youthservices.org) which is a local housing program that specifically attends to the needs of LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, was denied their typical HHS grant for 2020 and therefore is struggling to make up nearly $200,000 in desperately needed funding.


2) I was angered to find out that HHS has declined to renew a grant for 360 Youth Services in Naperville, IL (www.360youthservices.org) for 2020 that provided funding for transitional housing for LGBTQ+ youth. 


3) A local organization that intentionally provides housing services to LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, 360 Youth Services (www.360youthservices.org), was denied renewed funding for their program in 2020 by HHS and it horrifies me to think that our community will now struggle to provide safe and stable housing to this very at-risk population.


Call to action (choose one or write your own)

1) I know that there are many issues that the LGBT Equality Caucus is advocating for, so is my prayer that you will continue to speak energetically on this issue to ensure safe and stable housing for LGBTQ+ youth. 


2) Please know that I am holding you and your colleagues in prayer as you continue to speak up for the voiceless and work toward a more just world. Also, please courageously dedicate yourselves to this issue of housing for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.


3) I trust that you will find opportunities to support organizations like 360 Youth Services as they are an essential piece of support that our society must be able to offer this vulnerable population.


Closing:

LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately likely to become or remain homeless due to overt discrimination when seeking alternative housing. Some studies have found that LGBTQ+ young adults had a 120 percent higher risk of reporting homelessness compared to youth who identified as heterosexual and cisgender. Safe and affirming housing is a human right, especially for our children, and especially for those marginalized for their gender expression and orientation. 



Best Regards,

[YOUR NAME]

Who to write to:

Rep. David Cicilline: 
2233 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515


Rep. Angie Craig:
1523 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515


Rep. Sharice Davids:
1541 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515


Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney:
323 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515


Rep. Chris Pappas:
1421 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Rep. Mark Takano: 
420 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Another way to help:

360 Youth Services is also fighting back by trying to fundraise to make up for the loss of this grant. They are presently fundraising as part of Give OUT! Day, the only national day of giving that supports the LGBTQ+ community. Early Giving begins on March 26th and ends on Give OUT! Day, April 23rd.


In addition to writing letters to advocate for the funding of invaluable places like the 360 Youth transitional housing program, please also consider donating to their fundraising campaign: https://www.giveoutday.org/organization/360youthservices