In November of 2022, Iglesia Amigos in Indianapolis began a housing ministry in the parsonage of Valley Mills Friends Meeting, a member of Western Yearly Meeting. Iglesia Amigos rents the parsonage at a discounted rate as part of Valley Mills Friends Meeting support of the ministry. The idea of the housing ministry arose after seeing the need for housing in the Latino immigrant community. It is not a rare occurrence for a member of the Latino community to come to Iglesia Amigos with a need for housing, especially during and since the pandemic. Pastor Carlos Moran has helped in various ways, including housing some families in his home or paying for several nights in a motel. This was not a sustainable way to continue helping those in need.
The opportunity to rent from Valley Mills came up as Valley Mills was exploring a way for their parsonage to be a blessing to the community. They explored the possibility of using the parsonage to house Afghan refugees, among other ideas. Allowing Iglesia Amigos Indianapolis to rent it for those in the Latino community was a particularly good fit for what they had envisioned. Immigrant families lack access to housing for diverse reasons. Many cannot afford to rent, or, even when they can afford to rent, might not meet the requirements to be approved for a house or apartment. Often immigrants fall prey to predatory lending frauds or prohibitively expensive rental contracts. Denial of housing to undocumented immigrants is also one of the major obstacles Iglesia Amigos faces on a recurring basis.
Iglesia Amigos’ plan for the Valley Mills parsonage is to use it as a temporary fix while families secure permanent or stable housing, and put them in a position where they do not have to make decisions out of desperation. The first family that moved in, during November of last year, are Halison and her three children. Halison is a single mother from Mexico, who has lived in the US for three years. When Pastor Carlos met her, she was living in a 550 square feet studio apartment with her three children and not able to afford the rent, which was $1200 a month. The hope is for Halison to get into a position where she can find suitable housing for herself with her children. In the meantime, the family has enjoyed having more living space and the children are enjoying playing on the church’s playground. The children enjoyed putting up a Christmas tree for the first time in their life. The tree, along with Christmas gifts such as toys, clothing, kitchen items, and gift cards, were donated by members of Westfield Friends Church, in Indiana Yearly Meeting, Pastor Carlos has already seen that this housing ministry is not only a blessing for the families that receive the help, but also for other Friends, as this is one of the causes that many Friends care deeply about.