In Michigan, the rate of homelessness has seen great improvement; however, the rate of citizens living in poverty is alarming to many. Pastor Geronimo Aguilar urges the religious community to take a more active effort in helping communities resolve their homeless problems.
Online PR News – 13-June-2012 – Richmond, VA – Michigan is one state that has seen increasingly high numbers of homeless people, especially in the Detroit and Highland Park areas. In 2006, Governor Granholm launched Michigan's Campaign to End Homelessness in order to help combat this problem. A recent Huffington Post article discusses how the program has directed a more efficient use of funds to appropriately manage services that help reduce the homeless population. Although this government support has caused a noteworthy drop in homelessness in Michigan, Pastor Geronimo Aguilar believes that greater numbers can be achieved through support from local churches and religious organizations.
The article makes a point to stress the financial limitations local governments have when supplying homeless people with the services they need. Whether local services include food banks, shelters or job assistance programs it is virtually impossible to address the needs of every homeless person. Even more alarming is the realization that poverty rates in Michigan have increased despite actions to prevent homelessness. This means that homes in poverty are only on the verge of becoming homeless, and may threaten the progress that programs, like the Campaign to End Homelessness, have achieved.
Richmond, Virginia is also a city that faces high rates of homelessness, and is an issue Pastor Geronimo Aguilar has tackled with his programs available through the Richmond Outreach Center (ROC). "At The ROC, we don't just provide shelters for homeless people--we have discipleship homes that impart fundamental Biblical principles and values that spark transformations in people who would otherwise be indefinitely outcast by society," Aguilar explains.
While the services of The ROC and the Michigan government are certainly positive steps in the right direction, Aguilar believes that religious organizations need to assume responsibilities for their fellow man. "One of the things Jesus was most adamant about in the Bible was reaching out to the poor," Aguilar notes, "yet one of the things most of today's churches miss is doing just that." He encourages local churches to go back to basis, and follow these Biblical teachings.
Both the Michigan government and Pastor Geronimo have seen continued success of services for homeless people. For instance, about 70 percent of homeless people who went to Michigan homeless shelters were reported to not return the next year. Geronimo concludes, "It's not a handout, it's a hand up. What churches today need to understand, is that it's not always the government's job – it's our job – to do what Jesus called us to do, which is love the poor. Love is an action word."
Founding the Richmond Outreach Center at the beginning of the new millennium, Pastor Geronimo Aguilar has built a congregation that has helped the citizens of Richmond, Virginia find new hope. He and his church members have used basic Christian principles to form several ministries that help homeless, troubled youth, criminals and many others follow a more moral path. Not only has Aguilar’s work helped provide homeless citizens with more fulfilling lives, but also contributed to the reduction of crime in the Richmond area.