U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson Said he has started a virtual workshops series entitled, “The Mustard Seed" program, which is geared toward religious groups.
He plans to feature in the virtual presentations, faith-based organizations that have contributed to alleviating poverty and homelessness and which have helped to promote affordable and innovative housing.
The first event was held this week. Carson visited Grove Community Church in Riverside, California. He says the city's Mayor Rusty Bailey has worked with the church to actually place affordable homes for low-income families on church property.
“The collaboration between the City of Riverside and The Grove Community Church shows that church and state can work together to solve a societal problem,” said Andy Gibeault, who serves as the Associate Pastor at the Grove Community Church.
The Mayor said the City of Riverside is "blessed to have been able to partner with The Grove Community Church to create The Grove Village," adding that, "This joint effort created new housing for our neighbors without homes while respecting and protecting the integrity of the surrounding neighborhood. We are excited to share with the nation what can be accomplished when a local government and a faith-based community work together on an issue of vital concern to both.”
In addition, the church and city work together to provide supportive services to families who live there.
HUD said in a press release that the goal of the model is self-sufficiency for the families, to eventually allow them to move on to their own homes, thus leaving a vacancy for the next family in need.
“We cannot alleviate poverty through the efforts of the federal government alone,” Carson said. “There are so many faith-based organizations serving vulnerable communities successfully, and we want to share these successes with other faith-based organizations who are already so dedicated to a posture of service. Our goal with the Mustard Seed Series is to pair congregations interested in launching a housing outreach program with congregations already operating one so they can mentor each other and share best practices.
Carson recently discussed the program in a podcast.
Parties interested in participating or attending should email FaithInitiatives@hud.gov, according to the press release.