The year-old faith network Greater Dallas Justice Revival threw its weight behind the push for more permanent supportive housing around the city at a boxed-lunch get-together at Cliff Temple Baptist Church this morning.
"This really is a historic day," Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance president Mike Faenza told the gathered homeless advocates and churchfolk. "These efforts have not been without challenge, and we need your help."
Under the new partnership, called "Homes for Our Neighbors," Justice Revival director Randy Skinner asked religious groups to hold discussions about homelessness, and pass around a sample sermon and other flyers advocating for permanent supportive housing.
The dust-up over moving residents from The Bridge into Cliff Manor, and the way it's mellowed out in the last few weeks, was a hot topic throughout the lunch. "Only four months ago, a difference of opinion surfaced," Skinner said, "based on fear and misinformation."
"Some of the folks in the community that were most upset with being surprised" by MDHA's plans for Cliff Manor, Faenza told us after the lunch, "have learned otherwise." None Zip Zero has become the Good Neighbor Project, focused on a new coffee shop and bookstore in Cliff Manor to help build connections between formerly homeless and the rest of the neighborhood. And tomorrow Cliff Manor gets the mother of all Oak Cliff seals of approval -- a community garden of its own, built by other neighborhood garden gurus.
Cliff Temple Baptist's garden-builder Wes Keyes is heading up that project along with Mariana Griggs -- both of whom were at today's kickoff. "Part of the problem for these folks is that they don't have access to food," Keyes told us. They'll be out building 16 garden planters tomorrow with volunteer labor, but then it'll be up to residents to keep the garden running, Keyes said. "It's not gonna work if it's Wes's garden, or Mariana's garden. It's not gonna work if it's Cliff Temple's garden."
Dallas Homeless Authority president MaryAnn Russ sounded relieved to be playing to a friendlier room than she's had lately. "I'm happy to look out and see people who are not ready to throw things," she said, telling the room that DHA's ultimately the agency responsible for making housing affordable for homeless folks, even when it isn't popular.
Near the end of the ceremony, Skinner invited a handful of new Cliff Manor residents, who've moved in from The Bridge, to join him around a "Good Neighbor Covenant" and pray. "I want to thank you because you represent what our city needed," he told them. "And that you were willing to be among the first to move into Cliff Manor."