57TH General Assembly
Often referred to as "street people," the ranks of the homeless are being further swelled by low-income people who have been particularly affected by cuts in such programs as low-income housing, food stamps, and Medicare. Some have been released from mental institutions and from prisons without adequate planning and assistance for their return to the community. Whole families have become street people.
Each winter sees a growth in the number of people without homes wandering the streets. The phenomenon of homeless individuals and families is not a new one. Today we are called upon to take a closer look at the problem. We must increase our response in order to meet the growing needs of those who have been most severely affected by the current economic crisis.
The federal government has given only minimal assistance, either in the form of financial aid or buildings for shelter, leaving the burden of responsibility on local and state governments, civic and religious groups.
Individual synagogues have in the past contributed money and volunteers to shelters. A few synagogues have recently opened their doors to provide shelter to the homeless, but more time, money, and space are needed.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Union of American Hebrew Congregations:
Calls upon our Reform congregations to increase aid to the homeless in four areas:
- To provide greater financial assistance to established shelters;
- To organize volunteers to assist in staffing these shelters on an ongoing basis;
- To offer the use of their buildings and resources to provide shelter, food, and clothing, as required; and
- To come together with other religious and communal institutions in coalitions to coordinate efforts and to provide maximum pressure on local, state and federal governments to take their fair share of responsibility for the homeless; and
- Commends those congregations that have taken action to assist the hungry and the homeless.