by Tom Sine
A huge wave of evicted families is likely to drive the US into a much deeper recession in the next 6 months as we continue to grapple with the devastating impact of the Corona Pandemic. The Christian Science Monitor predicts “An estimated 11 million or more U.S. households may face eviction in the coming months.”
This is certain to happen unless the Congress extends protection from eviction again. In this time of accelerating change, it is essential that Christian leaders adopt more foresightful and innovative responses to this new crisis.
In 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change, Dwight Friesen and I show Christian leaders three essential practices for times like these:
- Learning to anticipate the incoming waves of change before they hammer our lives as well as those in our families and communities… so we have lead time to respond;
- Learning to aggressively research innovative ways to respond to the incoming waves so we can select the most effective responses;
- Select responses that are not only the most innovative but also most fully reflect the way of Jesus.
One of the reasons we wrote the book is because environmental planners and business innovators always anticipate the incoming waves of change before they plan…so they are not surprised by change. However, too often religious leaders don’t take the time to anticipate the increasingly rapid waves of change before we plan. As a consequence, many of us in churches and Christian organizations are surprised by change much more often than we need to be.
Anticipating the Incoming Economic Title Waves of Change Now!
Many of us are already struggling with the impact of the first title waves of economic change that came with the rapid invasion of the Corona Pandemic. Many of us, and our churches, have already been reaching out to family, friends and neighbors in these tough times.
We all need to not only address the needs in our communities today but also learn to anticipate huge waves that are likely to hammer us and our neighbors tomorrow. We also need to research the most innovative ways to respond to new waves of change.
Tidal Wave #1: Moratorium On Housing Evictions Ends in August!
At the height of the pandemic, 42 states…provided a temporary moratorium on evictions but that ends next month and causing millions of families to become homeless. This could also lead to a much more serous recession for the entire country in the immediate future.
Anticipating this new tidal wave of homelessness provides the opportunity for people of faith to start quickly researching innovative ways to respond before this huge wave fully arrives in the next 6 months.
Of course, those with the greatest risk are black and brown families that are already experiencing the highest rates of unemployment. When these families are employed over 40% of their income goes to their housing costs.
Researching Innovative Responses to Coming Housing Crisis
Again while environmental planners and business innovators broadly research a wide range of innovative ways to respond to new challenges, too often Christian leaders settle for the familiar responses. However, here is an example of a Christian leader who researched innovative responses to the growing housing crisis for families at the margins.
Clearly, existing programs to reach out to homeless families won’t be able to meet this crisis. Earl Kooperkamp, the pastor Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre, Vermont, stated that he started researching innovative housing possibilities for homeless families when Corona Virus first hit. “With the pandemic came opportunity.” Their research on new housing options led this church to approach Econolodge and other hotels in their region that were closed down. “The hotel owners were like ‘you want to rent out rooms for awhile? Please.’”
Obviously this is not a permanent solution to this new housing crisis. But it would be a place for Christian leaders to begin proactively researching in their own communities right now… before families are evicted in the coming months. I suspect many colleges who have shifted to online learning would gladly rent dormitory space at a reasonable price as well.
One long term solution, that is already creating permanent family housing in Mexico, is using 3D printing to construct homes at a very modest price. In light of this rapidly coming housing crisis in the United States, I would urge church leaders to:
- Anticipate now how many families in your community are likely to be evicted in the coming months and what agencies are available to help them that you might partner with;
- Broadly research hotels, college dorms and even take a look at 3D printed housing and other low-cost options including intergenerational housing that can result in not only decreased costs but also stronger community networks for time like these;
- Enable this huge wave of suddenly homeless families to find temporary housing in ways that reflects the hospitality of Jesus. Some in your congregation might have extra space in their homes, might even offer some of these families hospitality.
Dwight and I would love to learn how your church responds to his huge incoming wave of a growing housing crisis in your community. We would like to share some of your stories with others.
(By the way, Dwight and I are looking for people to be members our book launch team that will be released by Fortress Press on September 1st. Please email me if you would like to join our launch team.)
2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change is available on Amazon for pre-order.