The Winter Faith Collaborative is an interfaith movement that was formed to share ideas and advocate for the houseless community in the Fall of 2015. We have engaged over 75 faith communities across San Jose and Santa Clara county with the collective aim to serve and shelter those in the houseless community who are living outdoors. We have partnered with the advocacy group Housing for All Alliance, Building Hope UMC Ministry, and formerly and currently houseless individuals to temporarily house those in urgent need of shelter in places of worship during the winter months when the potential for loss of life is the greatest. Watch The Gift of Hospitality, a 26 minute video documenting our first year here:
Since our community does not have enough shelter beds or resources to keep all 7000 unhoused residents in the county dry and protected, all faith communities are being called upon to help. The city of San Jose recently passed an ordinance waiving the need for churches to obtain permits, which makes offering shelter more feasible. If all places of worship sheltered just a few individuals, nearly all could be served and countless lives would be saved.
We are volunteer run & funded; with both guests and volunteers receiving enormous benefit. For the guests we offer a sense of belonging when normally they feel shunned and provide an alternative model to traditional shelters that can often feel cold. For the volunteers in faith communities, they are able to live out the tenets of their faith while misconceptions of who the unhoused are fall away, and awareness of the serious scope of the housing crisis in the Bay Area is personified.
If unable to shelter, there are still countless ways to help-by volunteering (in the shelters or with administration and coordination of the Collaborative itself) or by offering funds to cover operational costs.
But the most compelling need is communities to open their doors, especially at night when the likelihood of lives being lost is the greatest. The need for family shelters is particularly poignant since there is only one shelter available for families in San Jose with a long wait list.
Collaborative Opportunities for Faith Communities
- Overnight Sheltering: Sheltering people nightly either the entire winter season, year long, or in rotation with other communities.
- Daytime Drop-In Center: Open during the day, people visit to keep warm, rest, use restrooms, computers, cell charging, receive food and water.
- Safe Parking: Safe place to park for those who live in their car, including use of bathrooms, showers, electricity, water and meals.
Faith Communities Engaged (a partial list)
St. Martin of Tours * St. Julie Billiart * St. John Vianney * Grace Baptist * Our Lady of Guadalupe * Church of Chimes * Holy Spirit * Los Gatos Presbyterian * Church of the Transfiguration * Willow Glen United Methodist * Stone Church * St. Elizabeth Almaden Hills United Methodist * Cambrian Park United Methodist * Ethical Culture Society SV * First Unitarian * Trinity Episcopal * St. Christopher * St. Paul’s United Methodist * St. Francis Episcopal * River Church * Most Holy Trinity * First Presbyterian * Wesley United Methodist * Calvary United Methodist * Covenant of the Goddess * Dwell Christian * St. Francis of Assisi * Foothill Presbyterian * Santa Teresa * St. Frances Cabrini * Silicon Valley Intereligious Council * Congregation Shir Hadash * Casa de Clara-Catholic Worker Friends Meeting San Jose * San Jose Christian Alliance * Church of Jesus Christ of LDS * St. Thomas of Canterbury * Bet-Eil Assyrian St. Andrews Episcopal * First United Methodist *Berryessa Alliance * St. Clare Parish Hope Lutheran * Church of Nazarene * Westminster Presbyterian * Christ the Good Sheperd Lutheran * Foxworthy Baptist * New Creation Lutheran * Shia Association of the Bay Area * Servant Partners * Pacifica Institute * Good Samaritan Episcopal Church * Venture Christian Church * Holy Child Episcopal Church * St. Philip’s Episcopal Church * St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church * Cathedral of Faith * St. Lucy’s Parish * St. Jude’s Parish