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TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2020
PRESS RELEASES · THE LATEST
Family Promise National CEO Statement on Racial Injustice
We are saddened and angered by the murder of George Floyd, yet another example of the prevalent racial injustice and inequality in our country.
Recent incidents have shown the crucial role that video footage plays. Before cell phone cameras, these realities were largely ignored by the media and the public, the trauma held only by the families and communities of the victims. To so many of us, George Floyd’s murder would have been invisible.
Family homelessness is also often considered to be invisible. Not coincidentally, the majority of children and families who experience homelessness are people of color, and nearly half are African American. This is a tragedy and a national disgrace.
These two bitter truths, the murder of black citizens by those in power and the disproportionate deprivation of housing and wealth for people of color come from the same root—institutional and systemic racism.
At Family Promise, we have known the numbers, and we have known the history of redlining and housing discrimination, and we have known that racism is the reason why the majority of those we serve are people of color.
But we have much more work to do to make these truths visible. We have more work to do to change this reality. We must do better at committing ourselves to addressing the racism that robs so many children of their housing, of their opportunities, of their futures. And ultimately, in far too many cases, of their lives.
To our community, and most importantly, to families of color who are hurting: please know that we stand with you and we will fight for you. We will listen, learn, and act.
We commit to visibility in all that we do and will not stop until race no longer defines who has housing.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF FAMILY PROMISE NATIONAL
In 1982, Karen Olson was a marketing executive who developed promotional campaigns for consumer products. One morning, on her way to a meeting, she saw a homeless woman, someone she’d seen over and over again on her way to work. She decided to buy a sandwich for the woman. The stranger accepted the sandwich but asked for something else – a moment to be heard, to be comforted, and to be considered as more than a mere statistic on a cold street corner.
Soon, Karen and her two young sons began frequent trips to New York to hand out sandwiches to the homeless. As she came to know some of the city’s homeless people, she began to understand the profound loss and disconnection that homelessness causes. That understanding turned into an enduring commitment.
She turned to the religious community for help, convinced that there were many who shared her concern and that together they could do what they couldn’t do alone. Within ten months, eleven area congregations came forward to provide hospitality space within their buildings. The local YMCA agreed to provide showers and a day center for families. A car dealer discounted a van. On October 27, 1986, the first Interfaith Hospitality Network opened its doors.
As word spread, ten more congregations formed a second Network. Programs for transitional housing, childcare, and family mentoring followed – outgrowths of increased awareness and involvement.
Today, Family Promise has established more than 200 affiliates in 42 states, using the services to mobilize more than 180,000 volunteers in their commitment to building communities, strengthening lives. The mission of the national Family Promise, located in Summit, New Jersey, is to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence. Their vision is for a nation in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future together.