El Nino Planning and Outreach
Last year, the City engaged the SFIC in the early stages of planning its response to the anticipated El Nino storms. SFIC Executive Director Michael Pappas participated in all stakeholder sessions hosted by the SF Department of Emergency Management, and facilitated sessions with City department heads and the Faith-Based Social Service Agency CEO Roundtable, The SFIC held a “Monthly Breakfast” devoted to storm precautions for congregations, diligently worked with City officials to identify emergency shelter sites, and utilized our broad-reaching communications network to provide alerts and updated information to congregations. In addition, the SFIC extended the Interfaith Winter Shelter by an additional five weeks, as requested by the City.
Collaboration with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
As San Francisco braces itself for a significant increase in residential and corporate building, the impact new structures and increased inhabitants will have on our City’s transit system is a growing concern. Over the past two years, The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), in collaboration with the SFIC, has engaged congregations along the Dolores/Guerrero Streets corridor to help address issues related to median parking in that neighborhood. As a result of those efforts, the SFMTA Board of Directors recently voted to institute a pilot study along that corridor. Recognizing the SFIC’s role as advocate for its constituent congregations, the Director of the SFMTA has initiated a regular, bi-monthly "check-in" with the SFIC Executive Director regarding the impact of SFMTA policies on faith communities throughout the City.
Convener of the "SF Interfaith Essential Housing Task Force"
With the growing scarcity of housing and correlating skyrocketing rents, low paid/middle income workers who provide essential services for the City are leaving San Francisco. By developing religious institutions' underutilized parcels for affordable rental housing, our faith communities will help stop the outmigration of our essential services workers.
The SFIC convened the City’s key religious leaders and the CEOs of the major faith-based social service agencies on September 11, 2014, for the purpose of developing a response to income inequality and the local housing affordability crisis. At that meeting, the group decided to form the "SF Interfaith Essential Housing Task Force." The Task Force agreed to work with the City to identify parcels of property owned by religious institutions that could be developed for rental housing, using private funding, for low paid workers who provide essential services to the City. These employees work in the fields of health care, social services, education and the arts and public safety.
SF Mayor Ed Lee directed staff in the Mayor's Office of Housing and the SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development to advise the Task Force on its mapping efforts, site recommendations, and funding strategies and to make introductions to prospective developers. A select number of parcels have been identified and are currently under serious consideration for such development.
In addition, during the 2015 election cycle, the City asked the SF Interfaith Essential Housing Task Force to endorse and advocate for passage of a $310 millon Housing Affordability General Obligation Bond. Due in part to the Task Force's diligent efforts, the measure was approved.
San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship
After the 2010 Census, San Francisco learned that approximately 100,000 people living in the City were legal permanent residents who were eligible for citizenship. In 2012, the City's Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA), and several foundations including The San Francisco Foundation, formed the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship ("SF Pathways"). SF Pathways is a "one stop shop" designed to encourage citizenship-eligible residents to naturalize. Numerous eligible residents do not apply for citizenship because of costly applications, lack of legal services, communication barriers, and fear. SF Pathways responds to these obstacles by offering innovative, cost-efficient, large group processing workshops for residents.
A grant received from The San Francisco Foundation engaged the SFIC to bolster the work of SF Pathways through its longstanding relationships with faith communities. The SFIC was called upon to effectively educate congregations and their citizenship-eligible congregants about SF Pathways, and readily recruit congregational volunteers and highly skilled legal experts to help at the workshops. This entailed tapping into the SFIC's broad network of contacts to promote SF Pathways, devoting an "SFIC Monthly Breakfast" to educating about the workshops, and most importantly engaging in focused recruitment at the University of San Francisco Law School and other academic entities to identify and secure legal experts for participation in the program.
Commonwealth Club of California
The SFIC's Executive Director has moderated several panels for the Commonwealth Club's Middle East Forum. Last February, Michael Pappas moderated a presentation by human rights activist and author, Rebecca Tinsley, who talked about a project, "Waging Peace: Why Genocide Keeps Happening," which started after visiting a Darfur refugee camp at the height of the killing there. In August Pappas moderated a panel of representatives of the Abrahamic faiths as they discussed their views on protecting the earth, caring for the environment, and combatting climate change. All Commonwealth Club video and audio podcasts where the SFIC has been the moderator can be accessed here.