The Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative (CRIHI) is harnessing the power of local. The voice – and often the feet and hands – of Edmonton’s interfaith community in the battle against homelessness, CRIHI is developing a new strategy to create Local Area Networks (LANs) in various pockets throughout the city. The idea is to help faith-based groups become more connected with other agencies in their communities; to encourage relationship and communication, especially around affordable and supportive housing issues.
CRIHI, as the name suggests, has always had the entire capital region in its purview, working on behalf of the homeless throughout the city and in surrounding communities. It will continue to work for the betterment of the whole region. However, Mike Van Boom, CRIHI’s Interfaith Network Animator, says it’s time to re-evaluate and ask the question, “How do we get our boots on the ground where we can make the most difference?” That’s where LANs come in. Often, the big picture of homelessness in the whole region is just that: too big for people to comprehend or to feel they can make a difference. Van Boom says, “It leaves us everywhere, but nowhere. So with LANs, we are choosing to be somewhere.” CRIHI recognizes that people are much more likely to understand the issues of the neighbourhoods in which they live, work or worship. They are more likely to be able to make connections in those places and become involved in a tangible way.
The new focus on LANs was discussed and demonstrated at the CRIHI annual plenary meeting, March 20. After an update on CRIHI activities and accomplishments of 2018, Van Boom divided participants into groups based on the local areas in which they live, work or worship. Each group then experienced the basic model of a LAN, sharing about the needs and liabilities, the assets and strengths, and the possibilities for partnership in their communities. The conversation was lively and each group generated a long list of ideas.
LANs are now developing in the Edmonton communities of Millwoods, Greater Hardisty, Riverbend/Terwillegar, Strathcona, and Greenfield South into Blue Quill. In each of these areas CRIHI will gather local people of faith (welcoming people of every faith or no faith) to discuss how they can work together in addressing local needs. Following are some ideas about what these groups might do together (taken from the Interfaith Housing Initiative website):
CRIHI staff will support LANs by:
Van Boom invites anyone who lives in the five areas listed above to come and join the Local Area Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another way to help grow this work is to donate to CRIHI for the hiring of more Interfaith Network Animators. Donations can be made through the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton using the ‘Donate’ function on the diocesan website.