Community Foundation hosts fund for Jeremiah Community
In pursuit of a community where no one sleeps outside, Micah Ecumenical Ministries is partnering with The Community Foundation to receive gifts for its planned Jeremiah Community.
The Jeremiah Community will be a supportive neighborhood built to care for the unique needs of those overcoming chronic homelessness. The project will include at least 50 small homes (450 square feet), a community center, a garden, an art workshop, and a variety of on-site supportive services.
Everyone who lives there will pay rent and have opportunities to engage in the life of the neighborhood, as they seek to regain stability, build hope and find healing. All homes will have front porches to encourage connection with community neighbors and visitors. As many as a dozen local service partners have agreed to establish a supportive presence in the community.
Micah is a collaboration of Fredericksburg’s downtown churches that began caring for unhoused neighbors in 2005. It has evolved from helping people survive on the street to holistically caring for people in all aspects of their lives (i.e. housing, income, health care, basic needs, social/spiritual support).
The Jeremiah vision seeks to combine all that the downtown churches have learned in caring for unhoused neighbors these last 18 years. It is named for both the prophet Jeremiah—whose story holds a message of hope for an exiled people in Israel—and Fredericksburg’s own Jeremiah—a man who spent 27 years living on the streets of Fredericksburg before moving back indoors. The effort it took to help our local Jeremiah off the street and continue to be part of his life after housing is a testament to the relationship many chronically unhoused neighbors need to be successful.
“The number one thing we have learned is that people don’t become homeless when they run out of money,” said Meghann Cotter, Micah’s Executive Servant-Leader. “People become homeless when they run out of relationships. If we aspire to do more than get people under a roof and support them as they seek a flourishing life, we must be the community they desperately lack in their lives.”
Land has been identified, and Micah is working to clear several zoning hurdles.
The total project is estimated to cost between $12 to $16 million. The fund established with the foundation will allow Micah to leverage The Community Foundation’s more than 25 years of experience managing and communicating with major donors. It will also help Micah to hold funds dedicated to the project separately from its regular operating dollars.
Donations for all aspects of the project can be made directly to The Community Foundation, www.cfrrr.org/the-jeremiah-
To learn more about Jeremiah Community visit: www.jeremiahcommunity.org
Because 72% of unhoused neighbors have at least one disability, helping them access social security benefits is an important part of the work we do with our neighbors. Last year, Micah collected records, built the case, and walked 50 applications through the complex process. Accessing benefits is often key to helping neighbors maintain their housing, build confidence, and gain enough stability that they can meaningfully explore supplemental paid or volunteer work.
Fredericksburg’s downtown churches began their journey toward the vision for Micah Ecumenical Ministries almost 18 years ago. We’ve now been at this as many years as there are miles to the treacherous Jericho Road of the Good Samaritan story. Along the way, encounters with our neighbors’ suffering have taught us much about the home God envisions for humanity, and how we are called to take part.