Emergency shelter in Bethlehem opens early

The info below was updated in the Express-Times, here and here.

[From Mother Laura Howell, rector, Trinity Bethlehem] Given the sudden onslaught of cold weather, we are opening the Emergency Sheltering Program in Bethlehem early.  People who are homeless and have nowhere to sleep can come to the Forte Building at 1335 East Fifth Street from 6:30 p.m. on.  We have volunteers for tonight (Monday night), but are in great need for other nights.  If you can volunteer, please call Deacon Liz Miller at 610-867-4741 X302.

At this point, we will be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  We'll re-evaluate on Wednesday, depending on the weather forecasts.

There will be transportation to the Forte Building leaving at 6:00 from the front of Trinity Episcopal Church (44 E. Market St.), and at 6:30 from the **lower** parking lot of Cathedral Church of the Nativity (Wyandotte).

Please assist us to help those who most need help.

[Find background from February 2009 here.]

$250,000 awarded to Grace and New Bethany for group home project

$250,000 grant awarded to Grace Episcopal Church Allentown and New Bethany Ministries Bethlehem to work together on a group home project in Allentown

Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown, and New Bethany Ministries of Bethlehem received a Federal Home Loan Bank grant of $250,000 for a project they have undertaken together –– the renovation of a vacant building in Allentown that will be used as a group home for chronically homeless individuals. The grant was awarded on October 16.

Continue reading "$250,000 awarded to Grace and New Bethany for group home project" »

Rental assistance in the Lehigh Valley

[From the E-Newsletter of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches]

At last there is help for the little guy! Federal stimulus dollars for rental assistance will arrive in the Lehigh Valley this fall to help ordinary individuals and families who are homeless or about to be homeless. Persons who can demonstrate the ability to maintain stability in housing given short-term or medium-term cash assistance with rent or utility payments but who otherwise would become homeless without such assistance qualify. This includes person in emergency shelters, on the street, transitional housing, and people in arrears in rent. Persons needing mortgage assistance are not applicable and should contact CACLV for mortgage assistance.

The City of Allentown is distributing $1,072,597 and the County of Lehigh $574,614 with the majority of the funds going directly to rental and utility assistance. The Lehigh County Conference of Churches is one of 6 entities to receive City dollars and one of 5 to receive County dollars. We are the only agency to receive rental assistance dollars for both Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing.

The Conference of Churches appreciates the trust the City and County are expressing in its ability to help people obtain housing. These dollars coupled with our regular allocation of County and FEMA rental assistance dollars will enable us to assist nearly double the number of people for the next three years or a projected average of 280 to 300/year. PLEASE NOTE FUNDS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE UNTIL THE FALL!

500 homeless students in the Allentown School District?

Monica called my attention to a Letter to the Editor in Wednesday's Morning Call wherein the writer pleaded for help for the victims of the recent fire in Allentown. 

What especially hooked me was the following paragraph: "A roll of quarters given to Russell 'Rooster' Valentini, homeless coordinator for the Allentown School District, will allow a small family to take the clothes from a burned apartment to the coin laundry to be washed clean. If your children are in school in Allentown, have them bring in a roll or two of quarters to their principal for "Rooster" to use. He already has 500 homeless students on his caseload. Now he has more."

The online version of the letter includes only the first sentence of that paragraph Although I point that out, my question is not s much about the reason for the online omission but it is about 500 homeless students in the Allentown School District. Can that be?

A little Googling resulted in these possible confirmations: (1) From a 2006 Moravian College news release: In any given year, Rooster has to manage approximately 500 cases with active files normally approaching 75 cases. (2) From a June 2007 Commission Report on Allentown's Plan to End Chronic Homelessness by 2017: From 2001 through 2006, the Allentown School District documented in excess of 600 homeless students annually.

Now, if that is so, where do they stay ... and what opportunity for creative and compassionate ministry might it suggest?