An open letter from the Senior Pastor to the neighbors of Niles Discovery Church
Like you, I read the complaints and I hear the frustrations about the homelessness crisis in Fremont and surrounding communities. Something needs to be done and soon.
When I consider what can be done, I do so as a Christian. Repeatedly in the Christian scriptures, Jesus challenges his followers to embody love in action, to care for the vulnerable, to lift up the down trodden, to act compassionately to help people find healing in their bodies, minds, and spirits.
Criminalizing homelessness and chasing unhoused people out of their encampments won’t solve the problem and it is certainly not the Christian response. There is really only one solution to homelessness: homes.
When unhoused people become housed people, they end up with access to bathrooms and trashcans and kitchens. This automatically decreases sanitation and wildfire hazards, and that improves all our neighborhoods. But how can unhoused people become housed people? The more I learn about the causes of homelessness and the obstacles to getting rehoused, the more I think the answer is, community support.
The City of Fremont has approached Niles Discovery Church about running a Housing Navigation Center on a piece of church property for five years. A Housing Navigation Center isn’t just a facility. It’s a program – a program that helps people navigate their way through the bureaucracy, roadblocks, and challenges that stand in the way of moving from being unhoused people to housed people.
Niles Discovery Church is currently negotiating with the City about the details of a land lease, the program criteria, and safety concerns. We would like you to learn more about the proposed facility and program and to answer as many questions as we can at a community meeting on Wednesday, April 24, 7:00 p.m., in the fellowship hall of Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont.
If we can come to an agreement with the city in the next month (or slightly longer) the Housing Navigation Center will open in the winter.
The Rev. Jeffrey Spencer
Senior Pastor and Teacher
Niles Discovery Church