“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”— Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
Jesus instructed his followers to help people in need. A present day, Bible-based gospel song says: “The race isn’t given to the swift or the strong/It’s given to the one that endureth and holds on/I won’t give up/ No, I won’t turn around/No, I am going to hold on.”
In autumn 2017, East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) and the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organized approximately 6,000 people who rallied in rain at City Hall Park in downtown Manhattan to press New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to build 15,000 new units of affordable senior housing on underutilized New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) land and other vacant sites, and to free up a large number of (presumably unused) NYCHA units. The goal was to provide housing for as many as 50,000 people on the NYCHA waiting list or in shelters.
As of summer 2019, little or nothing has been done to significantly increase the number of available affordable public housing units, nor to broadly improve public housing conditions. Accordingly, on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, church folks held a rally at Gracie Mansion to advocate for the same housing issues.
Pastors affiliated with Metro IAF and pastors associated with EBC are urging the Mayor to allocate funds to NYCHA for senior housing. The City’s website reports the city government is moving to do so on six land sites, including four owned by NYCHA and two owned by the Housing Preservation Department (HPD).
Reports indicate acquisition of these six publicly-owned land sites may absorb $100 million of City of New York funds. Sources other than the New York City government would have to supply the rest of the half billion dollar price tag. The Mayor’s critics insist the deal was for $500 million of New York City government money. EBC/IAF says its understanding is the six sites were just a start and the allocated $500 million will go further than that.
Rev. David K. Brawley, pastor of EBC member congregation St. Paul Community Baptist Church, is reported to have said, “At this time, ladies and gentlemen, let’s thank God for our mayor today who is committing resources to senior affordable housing and has committed publicly to working with Metro-IAF for senior affordable housing.”
Let’s not trip over the large dollar figures being discussed. Let’s acknowledge, however, that “all things are possible through God for those who believe,” and that, as the Bible states, whatever we do for the least of God’s people we do for Him.
Our objective is not to swag and wave money in the air, but to serve people who have little economic means but are in much need of housing. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize: decent housing for people in need.