Religious groups to tackle homelessness

Religious organizations with a passion for ending homelessness have a chance to get help putting hopes into action.

Four Snohomish County religious groups will be among a dozen chosen in the Puget Sound area to participate in a Faith and Family Homelessness Project. Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry launched the project this month.

Funded by the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, the project will provide support from Seattle University and awards of up to $10,000 for each group selected.

The money will pay for training and events to educate members about causes of family homelessness and ways to alleviate the problem.

Applications to the program are being accepted through Feb. 29 at http://faithandfamilyhomelessness.com.

In Snohomish County, the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington will work with Seattle University, a Jesuit and Roman Catholic school, to identify four local organizations to join the program.

Lisa Gustaveson, family homelessness program manager for the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, said it’s not necessary for groups to already be running programs that help homeless people.

“If you’ve got the passion, but don’t know what to do as a faith community, we’re here to help you,” Gustaveson said Monday. “Our job is to help. They have to have the will. We’ll help to find the way.”

Although the project will run about 16 months, Gustaveson said the aim is to create sustainable means to tackle family homelessness.

“This is about sustaining changes,” she said.

The Point in Time count of homeless people in Snohomish County, conducted Jan. 26, found 829 children under 18 among the 2,382 identified as homeless.

The Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington operates a family shelter in Everett that houses about 40 people, up to 11 families.

“This is just a great opportunity to work with the university to better fulfill our own mission, which is increasing unified action among faith groups in the community,” said Mary Ellen Wood, the Interfaith Association’s executive director.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

How to apply

Snohomish County faith communities with an interest in ending family homelessness are asked to apply for a Seattle University program that will provide support and an award of up to $10,000. Applications, due Feb. 29, are available at: http://faithandfamilyhomelessness.com.

Information: Lisa Gustaveson at 206-296-2657 or gustavel@seattleu.edu.

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