Blanket the Capitol and Cover the Homeless With Care
Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Yet, for many in our country, that has become increasingly impossible. A severe shortage of affordable housing has forced many not just into shelters and unstable and unsafe housing, but also into the streets.
“In many communities, unsheltered homelessness is increasing, leaving more of our neighbors living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not meant for human habitation,” according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Black and indigenous people are most to likely to experience homelessness, and people with disabilities and indigenous people are disproportionately represented among those who are unsheltered. For the first time since data collection began, more individuals experiencing homelessness in 2020 were unsheltered than sheltered. Over 10 years, the number of unique homeless encampments increased by 1,342%. “
Our ministries in Pennsylvania are stretching to meet the need and calling attention to the plight of our neighbors. Last year, the Rev. Matthew Best of St. Stephen’s in New Kingstown, which has a truck stop and dinner church ministry with people experiencing homelessness, partnered with other local advocates to remember those who were living and dying outside on the longest night of the year. Read news coverage. They camped outside in a Carlisle park, while covering the steps of nearby First Evangelical Lutheran Church with nearly 200 blankets that were then given to those in need.
This year, ELCA Witness in Society is partnering with Best and allies to blanket the lawn of the U.S. Capitol as part of the Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project — again, on the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. The art installation will serve as a visual reminder of unsheltered neighbors during a vigil and broadcast and call to action on the state of homelessness in America. Blankets will be arriving from each state in the country, with letters and invitations to lawmakers to visit an agency or ministry with those experiencing homelessness in their district. If you would like to help — by making a blanket, writing a letter, stitching donated squares, setting up and tearing down the art installation or delivering blankets to members of Congress in January for delivery in their districts — please drop us a note here with “Blanket” in the subject line.