The lack of affordable housing in Ottawa County is creating challenges for our Affordable Housing Team. We have funding to support families seeking housing, and we have a waiting list of families who are eligible for assistance, but few affordable homes in which to place them. We are able to house families in need because of our Benevolent Landlords who make their properties available to those families at an affordable rate.
For over 25 years, Third Reformed Church in downtown Holland has partnered with Good Sam’s housing programs. The church purchased their first home in the late 1980s in response to a presentation from Good Samaritan Ministries about assisting homeless families, and have been engaged ever since.
Third’s housing ministry attributes their success to the dedicated volunteers that provide mentorship, repairs, and maintenance to the various homes and families that have been a part of the ministry. While the work can be challenging, the congregation continues to grow and support their low-income housing ministry as they feel a call to provide justice and dignity for local families in need as Jesus calls them to do.
“We are still learning how to assist those in need without creating dependency, and find that many families with a need for housing bring broken relationships and struggle with soft skills,” said Roger DeYoung, Church Administrator at Third Reformed Church. “But we see how people with troubled pasts can find hope when they are given the opportunity to provide for their family.”
In response to the current need for affordable housing in Ottawa County, the church created a Housing Committee to educate the congregation and raise funds for the purchase of another home to be filled with a family from Good Sam. Last year, the team held a soup supper that raised enough to purchase a 3rd house. But their years of experience tells them that it takes more than a house to create stability.
“Our relationship with Good Samaritan Ministries has helped us understand that it takes a whole community to enable those in need to achieve long term goals of self-sufficiency. Building relationships and providing community connections is the most important step in helping people rebuild their lives.”
When asked what advice they would give to those interested in getting involved with housing, Roger said, “Focus on the long-term goals of building relationship with families and developing self-reliance instead of dependency and quick changes.” Kelley Pasatta, Co-Chair of the Housing Committee, urges congregations to seek the help of Good Sam in tackling the “logistical” side of the landlord work (leases, background checks) as it enables the church to focus on relationships and spiritual formation. Kelley said, “Good Sam is equipped to help churches assist families with the most basic form of security and safety. We should all be working together on this. Call us, we’re ready!”