Church decides homeless can stay six months more: San Jose, CA

Tom Boland (
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 22:04:53 -0700 (PDT)

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research
4,000+ ONLINE posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
FWD  San Jose Mercury News - April 15, 1999  [California, USA]


     By Betty Barnacle, Mercury News Staff Writer

  A dozen homeless men and women, some of them carrying babies, cheered and
applauded Wednesday when the pastor of a downtown San Jose church said they
could continue to live in the church social hall for another six months or
until they find other housing.

  The decision ends the growing tension over the issue for the congregation
of the First Christian Church of San Jose -- Disciples of Christ,  which
lost members of 60 years standing who objected to the shelter,  and the
homeless who feared they would end up on the streets again.

   Some of the homeless went up to the Rev. Larry Sweeney  after he
announced the board of elders' decision and shook his hand. Others hugged
vice moderator Chris Cahill, one of the few board members present at the
announcement. The church board voted 8 to 5 Tuesday night to allow the
homeless to continue living in the social hall.

   Church elders said they never considered throwing the homeless out,  but
instead talked about how  much time to give the people to get back on their
feet. The group is sponsored by the Community Homeless Alliance Ministry
(CHAM), which is headed by church member Scott Wagers.

      ``We went all over the lot with all different proposals,'' Cahill
said, ``and this finally got a majority.''

    Sweeney said that at a congregational meeting Sunday, church members
also talked about the financial costs of caring for the homeless and
tensions between members. Supporters asked how the church ``could afford
not to do this,'' he said.

  The church is violating city zoning laws by using the social hall as a
shelter, and many church members are troubled by breaking the law, he said

   Asked Wednesday if City Hall approved the six-month extension for the
current group of church campers, Sweeney said the city apparently is
continuing to look the other way, as it has since last fall.

   Calls to the city for comment were not returned Wednesday.

   ``CHAM is talking with the mayor's office about resolving this
situation,'' Sweeney said. ``We went to see the mayor in a rally Tuesday in
front of City Hall, and the mayor sent his aide out to talk to us.''

    This is the second group of homeless people provided sanctuary by the
church. The first group eventually found other places to live, with
$400,000 in redevelopment funds set aside for affordable housing. The
funding was arranged by the Santa Clara County Council of Churches.

   Sweeney said the public had sent the church some ``desperately needed''
financial help when they learned of the church's financial problem.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

4,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy