Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update February 5, 2024

Houses of Worship and the Migrant Crisis 

A mosque in the Bronx has become a makeshift shelter for migrants as wait times for shelter beds extend to over a week. Mayor Eric Adams' policies have made securing shelter beds more difficult, leading various groups and individuals to provide aid, including food and warm spaces.  Concerns have been raised about the approaching month of Ramadan, lack of space, and the strain on infrastructure. The situation has prompted efforts from volunteers, religious organizations, and community spaces to help meet migrants' basic needs.

Volunteers handed out soup to migrants during a blustery winter day outside the East Village re-ticketing site, Jan. 19, 2024. Credit: Gwynne Hogan/THE CITY

In Staten Island, Saint John's Episcopal Church is backing out on housing migrants due to backlash from local politicians and anti-migrant groups. Saint John's Church initially intended to open 50+ beds to asylum seekers when local elected officials pushed back. 

"We will continue to embody the principles of love, understanding, and service that define our spiritual journey — including forgiving those who attacked our community for trying to care for our new neighbors,” says Rev. Hank Tuell. 

Houses of Worship Development and Redevelopment

This year the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, also known as “Yes In God’s Backyard” went into effect in California. With the passing of this act, the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles is planning to develop affordable housing on their land with the help of LA Voice, a nonprofit organization in the area. A similar law is being put forward in New York State, called The Faith Based Affordable Housing Act (which Bricks and Mortals has endorsed). 

The Atlanta First United Methodist Church is developing a mixed-use project that will include a 20-story building with residential units, schools, and retail space adjacent to the church building. The project plans to designate 85% of the units as affordable housing units. 

With space sharing on the rise, a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manhattan is sharing space at the West End Collegiate Church. The building is currently shared by the West End Church and a number of other faith-based organizations that use the space. 

The West End Collegiate Church on the Upper West Side. Courtesy of OPEN Impact Real Estate.

Interfaith Efforts 

In Brooklyn, Palestinian-owned restaurant Ayat recently hosted a free Shabbat dinner to gather and break barriers. The gathering included attendees from all different backgrounds. Many attendees stated that they showed up to the event to find glimpses of hope and connection in a fearful time. Jewish volunteers led prayers and sang passages of the Torah in Hebrew. 

Participants in the Shabbat dinner hosted by the Palestinian-owned restaurant Ayat in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn. Credit: Alex Kent/Gothamist

January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Across New York City services and events took place to commemorate the remembrance day, including at the Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side. City Hall and other buildings were lit up in yellow to honor those who died in the Holocaust. In Bosnia Muslims and Jews jointly observed the remembrance day to promote peace. The two communities renewed their commitment to peace and acknowledged their shared history of persecution.  

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