NEWS AND ACTIVITIES
Welcoming Neighbors Home volunteers get involved in a variety of activities - from advocating for affordable housing and monitoring city progress in meeting housing goals to providing direct service such as preparing meals, donating food and doing clothing drives.
Advocating for Affordable Housing in Housing Element Updates
On November 23rd, members of the leadership team met with staff from the Community Development Department of Lake Forest City to discuss the public comment that Welcoming Neighbors Home had submitted regarding the city’s update to its housing element – the housing section of the city’s general plan. The city plans to publish their draft 6th Cycle Housing Element in early 2021, and Welcoming Neighbors Home is encouraging them to include more programs and incentives to bring permanent supportive and affordable housing development to Lake Forest.
Serving Meals at the Assisted Sleeping Location
On the 4th Thursdays of the month, Welcoming Neighbors Home volunteers provide dinner to the Friendship Shelter Alternative Sleeping Location in Laguna Beach. Normally volunteers would serve the food but during the Pandemic they have been coordinating food drop offs to staff at the Friendship Shelter, where meals are served buffet style. To contribute food for these meals, fill out the form on this page,
For Thanksgiving, Welcoming Neighbors Home members prepared and a turkey and other homemade dishes to the Friendship Shelter in Laguna Beach. A huge thanks to all who contributed to this meal, as well as those members who regularly contribute food for the first Thursday of the month dinners at the Friendship Shelter!
Sharing the Warmth
To start influencing policies around hunger and homelessness, we need to raise awareness of problems among the public. In recognition of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, many members of Welcoming Neighbors home engaged in online advocacy. One member had a letter to the editor published in the OC Register and the Laguna Woods Globe!
NATIONAL POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS WEEK
THANKSGIVING MEAL AT FRIENDSHIP SHELTER
One Welcoming Neighbors Home member took the lead in collecting winter coats, winter clothing and camping gear from Tapestry members. These items were then delivered to another advocate for our neighbors without homes, who does street outreach. Two gentleman who received coats from the drive the same night followed up by sending a text to thank Tapestry members.
Each month, Tapestry and Welcoming Neighbors Home members lead a food donation drive. Food is collected on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to noon in bins outside Tapestry Unitarian Congregation’s building. This food is distributed to local organizations such as Father Serra Food Pantry, South County Outreach, Family Assistance Ministry, Waymakers Youth Shelter, and the Friendship Shelter.
HOUSING ELEMENT PUBLIC COMMENT WORK
DONATION DRIVE FOR PROJECT ROOMKEY GUESTS
A Welcoming Neighbors Home member took the lead in collecting and delivering donations, such as clothing, shoes, face masks and other items to help pass the time to Project RoomKey guests at the Laguna Hills Inn. This program, now closed, housed about 65 people who had been living on the street and some from shelters. A few had COVID-19 but most were individuals who are at greater risk to get it (e.g., older adults or people with pre-existing conditions). County officials state that these people will be placed in shelters or other congregate settings.
Every 8 years cities in California must submit their housing plans (known as the Housing Element of their General Plans) to the State of California. They are given housing development goals – known as Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) – which includes targets for affordable housing based on different levels of income. Cities are tasked with defining appropriately zoned sites, policies and programs that will facilitate affordable housing development.
Cities in Orange County are due to finalize their Housing Elements by October 2021. Lake Forest has just begun the development of their “6th Cycle Housing Element. A core of Welcoming Neighbors Home volunteers have been working hard to analyze Lake Forest’s “5th Cycle Housing Element” performance and coming up with recommendations to the City for the upcoming cycle.
Welcoming Neighbors Home has finished up with our second care kit drive for people without homes. We coordinated the intake of over 1,500 items going into over 150 kits! Kits contained non-perishable food, hygiene supplies, and other necessities, as well as a hand-written note of compassion. These were then delivered to the Friendship Shelter in Laguna Beach, and a graduate student in social work at UCI, who does street outreach in South Orange County, so they can be distributed directly to people in need.
These kits will make a big impact in an especially hard time, so many thanks to all of our volunteers who contributed to the kits!
THANKSGIVING FOOD DRIVE
Stuart Perlman, an artist painting portraits of people without homes in Venice Beach, gave a sermon to Tapestry on homelessness and what he has learned in his work. His sermon is linked above, and starts at 30:48. To learn more about Stuart and his work, visit his website here.
STUART PERLMAN SERMON ON HOMELESSNESS
SUCCESSFUL KIT DRIVE
Several Welcoming Neighbors Home members lead a food drive to fill up the shelves Father Serra’s Pantry in preparation for Thanksgiving. Some of the items they focused on collecting were stuffing mix, cranberries, pumpkin and other baking supplies. These donations went to local organizations serving those without homes.