Rabbi Noah Farkas, one of the founders of JOIN’s Seminary Leadership Project and now a JOIN Board member, is a powerful leader in the fight against homelessness in Los Angeles. Rabbi Farkas published a powerful piece about this work in the Jewish Journal. His article is excerpted below, and you can read the full piece here.
I write this with a broken heart. I serve many roles in the community, including that of a county-appointed commissioner to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Today I write not as a commissioner — I do not speak for the commission — but for myself, a rabbi who sees the yawning chasm between the golden dreams of what our city could be and the iron-hard realities of what our city is.
The other night I sat in the commission hearing during which we released the homelessness count for Los Angeles County. The numbers are shameful. Homelessness is up 12 percent across the county in just two years. Veteran homelessness has remained relatively flat, despite the millions of dollars poured into the region by the federal government. The number of individuals taking refuge in tents, vehicles and other makeshift shelters climbed 85 percent. Skid Row used to be the center of homelessness in America; now it, too, has replicated the ubiquitous model of urban sprawl with new subdivisions cropping up across the county. There are now as many homeless men, women and children in our area as the total capacities of Staples Center, The Forum and Pauley Pavilion combined.
Homelessness is terminal in Los Angeles. You can be robbed, raped, assaulted or even murdered. You live in constant fear of others on the street and of the authorities. Leundeu Keunang and Brendon Glenn, two homeless men, were fatally shot by officers during the last two months. Our county is in a state of crisis.
Read the rest of the article here.
Our newly launched Clergy Fellowship’s Los Angeles cohort of 11 rabbis, who together represent 25,000 congregants, will be working alongside Rabbi Farkas to bring people into a campaign fighting for affordable housing for very low-income people in Los Angeles. We are proud of Rabbi Farkas’ leadership in bringing mainstream Jewish voices into the campaign to solve the roots of homelessness in Los Angeles.