Dealing with Homelessness and NYC's Housing Issues, Together

Stephanie Chrispin


This summer, Trinity's Brown Bag Lunch Ministry hosted Imagine Healing, a three-part series designed to foster conversation and intentional focus on the intersection of homelessness and race. The program stems from Trinity's key strategic mission areas of Housing and Homelessness and Racial Justice, which build up our neighborhood of New York City by seeking to end the cycles mass incarceration, mass homelessness, and housing instability. Members of Trinity's congregation and neighborhood joined staff as we envisioned a community approach to healing and taking action on the city's homelessness crisis via contemplative photography, poetry, and storytelling. 

Imagine Healing through Photography

We launched the Imagine Healing series with four weeks of multilingual workshops on contemplative photography led by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones. The classes focused on using photography as a meditative practice to play, pray, and create. Through this approach, participants learned to see our Lower Manhattan neighborhood in new ways, creating images based on fresh perceptions. 

Imagine Healing through Poetry

In this series, program participants joined SK Doyle and Metha Balasquides in poetry meditation sessions. Based on the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen's model for the Writers Workshop Series, each participant brought poetry readings of their choice to read and meditate on in community.

Participants gathered in the Chapel of All Saint's for poetry reflections and discussion.

Real-time translation in English and Chinese fostered connection across language barriers, diving into themes of playfulness, spirituality, and hope. 

Some attendees were inspired to read poetry they wrote themselves; below is a piece written by Jeffrey G. titled "Real World":

What is real?

What is love?

Is love real?

Is pain real?

Without love the world does not matter.

Imagine Healing through Story

During this month-long book club, Trinity welcomed discussion around the strategic area of Low-Income Housing and Homelessness using Sacred Shelter: Thirteen Journeys of Homelessness and Healing by Susan Greenfield. Guest speakers included Marc Greenberg, the Executive Director of the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, and Edna Humphrey, one of the interviewees in Sacred Shelter who bravely shared her story of resilience with us. Together we had a powerful conversation shaped by our experiences on topics such as homelessness, stigmatization, housing laws, low-income housing and vulnerability.

Terrell L. Moody, a native New Yorker and Trinity staff member, facilitated our conversations over the four weeks.

Imagine Healing through Community

We capped off the series with a celebration of our community's creativity and resilience. Program participants shared their stories, poetry, and photography reflections on low-income housing and homelessness, followed by a community meal. 

Moderated by the Rev. Kristin Miles, panelists Josefina Sosa and Chris Singleton shared their experiences learning about themselves and each other during the Imagine Healing through Poetry series.

Not only were we able to share in mutual gratitude, but the celebration allowed all of us to reflect on what practices we could incorporate beyond this summer towards community healing. We closed with a moment of reflection on author S. Kelley Harrell's quote: “We don’t heal in isolation, but in community."

As we look towards 2020 and beyond, we will host additional programming focused on our neighborhood's role in dismantling cycles of mass homelessness and housing insecurity; sign up for updates and learn more about how to take action with Trinity.