A Gathering for Faith and Community Leaders

May 22, 2023Church of the Advocate, Community, News

On March 18th, Faith and community leaders from all across the Triangle ate, sang, and learned together at the Episcopal Church of the Advocate for Pee Wee Homes’ first ever Information Session for Faith and Community Leaders, an effort to mobilize and inspire faith communities to build tiny homes on their property.

Leading the way, the Advocate is PWH’s first location on church-owned land, hosting three residents in three tiny homes, and was the perfect venue to inspire others to do the same. PWH has completed four other homes on land acquired through the Northside Neighborhood Initiative. Subsequently, PWH has been striving to replicate the strategy of building homes on the grounds of faith communities like the Advocate. PWH Board Chair Lisa Fischbeck and Duke Divinity School Intern, Laura Batts, have been leading efforts to connect with local faith communities in hopes of finding fertile ground for more of these homes.

The March event grew out of this initiative to inform the community of the opportunity to partner with PWH. Moreover, this event was meant to encourage continued collaboration among religious, nonprofit, and local government sectors.

There was an energy in the air as the chapel filled with congregation members and community leaders from Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Apex, Raleigh, Cary, and Durham. Additionally, local officials, and community leaders from organizations like Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) and Inter-Faith Council (IFC) were also represented. 

The event was packed with guest speakers, music, a raffle, and opportunities to connect and network. Key speakers, Gary Bumgardner, community leader and affordable housing advocate, and Katina Welch, community leader and PWH board member, shared their experiences accessing housing and emphasized the role of faith communities in filling the gaps. Others spoke on the PWH model and current relevant policy updates, including founding board members Fischbeck and Hudson Vaughn, and PWH Executive Director Erika Walker.

PWH board member David Lyles generously donated a one-of-a-kind quilt to be raffled at the event. Guests were invited to make a donation of any size for one raffle ticket. Lyles made this quilt specifically for PWH and even included the shape of homes throughout the quilt!

The CEF Advocacy Choir performed, “Smile,” a lively and hopeful original song written by Yvette Matthews, Office and Community Organizer at CEF’s Chapel Hill office. The crowd caught on quickly, singing, clapping and swaying along to the the uplifting song.

We plan to continue engagement with faith communities in the area to mobilize support for affordable housing in the form of actual homes on land owned by those communities, financial and in-kind support to affordable housing organizations, and community organizing for meaningful policy change.

If you or someone you know attended the event or you missed it and want to know more, we would love to connect! Email Laura at div-intern@peeweehomes.org with any feedback, reflections, or questions.