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Newport Beach

Volume 4, Issue 91  |  November 12, 2019


Local congregation makes more than a difference in homelessness battle

Pastor Mark Davis of St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach presented a unique opportunity to his congregation of nearly 600 people to help end Orange County’s homeless crisis. He knew his community was generous, but he was not prepared for how significantly they would jump at this opportunity to make a difference.

Pastor Davis and his supporters responded quickly to help Orange County United Way’s United to End Homelessness’ House 30 Campaign which was an ambitious campaign to raise funding to house 30 homelessness individuals and households in just 30 days (August 1 - August 30).

Local congregation makes more than

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of St. Marks Presbyterian

St. Mark Presbyterian Church

If successful, the campaign has the power to unlock a potential 300 additional rental vouchers for Orange County’s homeless population.

“What I liked about the 30 in 30 campaign was that it gave people a way of direct action that would have lasting effect,” said Pastor Davis. “Too often a quick donation here or there – like in response to someone holding a sign at the grocery store exit – leaves us unsure of whether our contribution will be used well or whether it will create more dependency for the recipient. Contributing to Permanent Supportive Housing is far different. It enables the recipient to attain housing as well as the wraparound services that will enable them to live as independently as possible.” 

The 30 homeless individuals and families identified as part of the August campaign, each with an adult in the household living with a disability, had federal housing vouchers that were on the brink of expiring. They were pre-screened and ready to take the next step toward a better life but could not find a property owner to open a door to them. That’s where United to End Homelessness’ Welcome Home OC program stepped in. With the funding from the campaign, the program could provide property owners with financial support to cover security deposits, holding fees, furnishings, move-in costs and wrap-around case management. 

In order to get each of the 30 households into safe and stable homes, $500,000 was needed, or $16,670 per household. 

By the time Pastor Davis made it to the end of his service on Sunday, the congregation had already raised $17,000 to get one homeless household into a safe home.

And the giving didn’t stop there.

In just a few short weeks, St. Mark raised nearly $115,000, enough to house seven homeless households. When the campaign closed at the end of August, the $500,000 goal was met, and St. Mark was a major part of that. 

“The people who are St. Mark are very generous, but even so their response to this call was overwhelming for me,” added Pastor Davis. “We’ve hosted many educational events about the realities of homelessness in Orange County, but this was a chance for people to respond immediately and effectively and they took that chance with tremendous gusto.” 

St. Mark Presbyterian Church is located at 2200 San Joaquin Hills Rd. in Newport Beach. The church has services at 5 p.m. Saturdays and 9:30 a.m. Sundays.

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