New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) has partnered with Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corporation (RCHP-AHC) and Rutgers University-New Brunswick on a collaborative project called SHELTER that seeks to provide rapid housing assistance to families and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to helping to secure housing and other basic needs for vulnerable groups, the project leaders’ broader vision is to create long-term relationships with people receiving services and promote understanding among the seminary, its partners, and their neighbors by engaging community members in ways that make space for and amplify their voices.
Thanks to generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation, New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS), in partnership with Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corporation (RCHP-AHC) and Rutgers University-New Brunswick, has launched a project to address the problem of housing insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new initiative offers a rapid response to a pressing question for some of the most vulnerable people in the wider community: In an age of pandemic, what does it mean to shelter in place when you have no shelter?
Through its Theology Program and its commitment to supporting its partners’ responses to COVID -19, the Luce Foundation has awarded $150,000 to NBTS for the immediate launch of the SHELTER project. (Website: shelternj.org). Seventy-five percent of the awarded funds will be directed to RCHP-AHC to rapidly secure housing and provide ongoing wrap-around services for families and individuals whose housing and other basic needs, such as the purchasing of food and medicine, have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These individuals and families are variously experiencing challenges related to undocumented or immigration status, recent release from parole or incarceration, HIV and other medical needs, and other social services needs that make them especially vulnerable during the COVID crisis.
By fostering existing community partnerships and directing funds to support the urgent responses of service providers doing the work of social justice, this project advances the Seminary’s explicit commitments to promote justice in society. Although the current emergency is all too immediate, when the pandemic fades, “shelter” will still be an elusive goal for many; the aim of our partnership is to create a long-term relationship not only with RCHP-AHC but with the individuals and families who are receiving services. The Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale, Executive Director of RCHP-Affordable Housing Corporation expressed excitement for “the potential of this project to help a pandemic be not a moment for further rejection and isolation but rather a moment where we stop, listen, and participate in creating ‘home’ for already susceptible populations.”