'Churches can do this'

Love INC to mobilize area churches to meet housing needs

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At a glance

• A group of about 20 area church leaders and nonprofit organization representatives met Tuesday at the Holiday Inn of Craig to discuss the need for transitional and emergency housing in Moffat County

• Group members said there is a shortage of housing in Moffat County for people who need a place to stay while becoming financially independent.

• Patricia Jones, Love INC executive director, said she plans to ask area churches to help support a transitional housing program.

— Patricia Jones' voice grew husky and her eyes welled with tears as she spoke the words.

"The churches have all the resources we need because we are the children of God," Jones said. "We are the heirs to everything.

"The churches can do this."

Jones, executive director of Love INC of the Yampa Valley, spoke Tuesday before an audience of about 20 people that included area pastors and representatives from nonprofit organizations.

Her topic was one the group had discussed before: Transitional and emergency housing in Moffat County.

The group met for a second time Tuesday afternoon at the Holiday Inn of Craig. All 20 members at the group's first meeting in January said, based on their observations, temporary housing was an area need.

On Tuesday, that group refined their conclusion. Their general consensus: Moffat County lacks programs for those who need a place to live while trying to get back on their feet.

"We have no programs in place for someone who needs a week in a room long enough to get a deposit for an apartment," said Karen Brown, Community Budget Center office manager.

Len Browning, pastor of The Journey at First Baptist Church, agreed. He said transitional housing was the dominant need in Moffat County.

"The need is temporary," he said, "but it's real."

Jones said she plans to put the group's findings in front of area church leaders, asking them to support a program that would help shelter people in need.

Records show church members already are making contributions toward that end.

In 2007, area churches gave $2,343 to provide emergency shelter to people in Moffat County, according to Love INC.

That figure doesn't include the non-financial aid churches provided to those who needed immediate housing.

Still, as group members discussed Tuesday, providing long-term housing would require time, money and resources beyond what would be required for a homeless shelter.

A facility capable of housing people for 30 to 60 days would have to be able to provide food, furniture and household goods to occupants. A thorough set of guidelines and people to enforce them would also be required at such a housing complex, Jones said.

Still, Jones thinks she and other Christian leaders have an obligation to assist people in need.

"Just helping people is a Christian mandate," she said. God "wants us, as Christians, to love our neighbors.

"If you love them, you're going to help them."

Jones believes the churches will favorably answer her request if they receive authorization from a higher power.

"If God tells them to do it, it's going to happen," she said.

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