On Wednesday, July 15, the Deans of five Episcopal Cathedrals in California sent a joint letter to the leaders of the California state legislature encouraging them to act swiftly to prevent an unprecedented wave of tenant evictions and residential foreclosures in California due to Covid-19. Grace Cathedral Dean Malcolm Young and the Deans of St. John’s Cathedral, Los Angeles; St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego; Trinity Cathedral, San Jose and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Sacramento wrote:
“The moral imperative for our religious communities is to attend first to people with the least resources and greatest hardship. While we are mindful that tenants, landlords, homeowners, developers, financial institutions, and government are tied together in a web of economic relationships, we ask for low income residential tenants and homeowners to be given especial protection.”
Already the hardest hit by persistent racism and poverty, low-income Californians face the greatest housing security challenges during the pandemic and beyond.
The Deans also called on the members of their congregations and other faith communities to exercise charity and forbearance in their own dealings with tenants, borrowers and so forth.
This collaborative effort was organized by Grace Cathedral’s Social Justice Working Group, which is drawn from Cathedral clergy, administration, staff and members of our board of trustees and congregation. Housing security and homelessness has been identified by the group as an important social justice issue for the Cathedral to address in partnership with other organizations. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the five Episcopal cathedrals have come together as partners for policy advocacy at the statewide level.
There are bills pending in the California legislature, including proposals authored or co-authored by San Francisco’s representatives in the State Assembly, David Chiu and Phil Ting, as well as our State Senator Scott Weiner, to address the concerns raised in the Deans’ letter. As the legislative session draws to a close with no end in sight to the financial hardship wrought by Covid-19, let us hope and pray for our representatives in Sacramento and Washington to have the courage, wisdom and foresight to provide for the immediate and long-term housing security of all our people, but especially for those with the greatest need.
You can read the complete letter from the Episcopal Deans to the state legislature here.
Jim Simpson is a congregant of Grace Cathedral, and a member of the cathedral’s Social Justice Working Group and the Congregation Council.