National security and housing are two areas of great importance to the District, with increasing poverty rates and homelessness, a lack of housing stock for people with mental illness and some of the highest hospitalization rates for veterans in the nation.
There is a significant gap between the quality of housing that is provided to DC residents and that of neighboring jurisdictions. However, some ministers in the District have recently stepped up and suggested a way to tackle these problems. They are calling on their fellow ministers to join them and form a joint task force to address these problems. In a letter to their fellow ministers obtained by The Washington Post, eight ministers acknowledge that “D.C. is facing, over the next few years, a challenging era in its history.” They continue by reminding the ministers that “much of the promise of what was once the District of Columbia, now manifests itself in its impoverished communities and deplorable condition.”
The new task force, which would be led by Bishop Montague Simmons, a city native, would focus on homelessness, mental health, public housing and education, and address the “gaps between what is available and what is needed,” he says. As members of the task force get together with various agencies and leaders, they will discuss “where we can work together to explore and implement solutions to bring common-sense solutions to our neighbors.”
One minister’s comments to The Post highlighted this dream: “It’s an exciting opportunity to build a partnership on such vital issues,” said the Rev. Mark J. Pomerantz, executive director of Temple Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal.
Pomerantz noted that there is a need for pastors to create a unified voice as they fight for the poor and for the residents of the nation’s capital. The prospect of this task force was first raised by Simmons, founder of Mount Temple Assembly of God in the District, as a way for his church and the city’s other denominations to work together.