Saturday, October 23, 2010

Resources for the Homeless in Orange County

Housing Shelter Resources

*American Family Housing, Transitional Housing Program 714-897-3221. Shelter for the Homeless offers transitional and affordable housing for singles, singles with children, families, and emancipated youth between the ages of 18-21. Must be working. Does not accept mentally ill.

*Friendship Shelter 949-494-6928. Transitional housing for single men & women plus limited emergency facilities for those needing immediate response. No children, no couples.

*H. I. S. House, Transitional Living Center 714-993-5774. Transitional living center for the homeless.

*Laura's House Emergency Shelter 949-498-1511. Provides housing up to 45 days with a comprehensive therapeutic program for women and children.

*Mercy House 714-836-7188. Serves single males, females and families in need of transitional housing. They also provide a variety of services to the downtown Santa Ana homeless population.

*O. C. Rescue Mission 714-247-4300. Serves the homeless and needy in Orange County with shelter, food and clothing. Faith-based organization.

*Salvation Army 714-832-7100. Call the Salvation Army for information on all their programs & services in Orange County.

*Serving People in Need (SPIN) 714-751-1101. Serves the homeless population.

Emergency Assistance/Basic Needs

*Assistance League Assistance League is a national nonprofit organization that puts caring and commitment into action through community-based philanthropic projects.

*Catholic Charities Outreach Family Center Provides emergency assistance for crisis intervention including food, clothing, shelter, and financial assistance to individuals and families at risk of homelessness. Faith-based organization.

*Family Support Network, Emergency Needs Fund This program provides items that a family cannot afford but are needed to keep their special needs child safely at home.

*Share Ourselves (SOS) SOS provides services to Orange County's most impoverished families including the homeless.

*Working Wardrobes Working Wardrobes® serves CalWORKs recipients, clients of social
service agencies, and adults in 55 shelters/programs in Orange County including residents of safe shelters, emancipated and at risk youth and chemical dependency centers in Orange County

*For more info go

Sunday, October 17, 2010



Children Living in Low Income Families Trending Upward

Description of Indicator
This indicator measures Orange County families’ progress toward self-sufficiency and economic stability by tracking enrollment in
core public assistance programs and the proportion of children living in low income families.

Why is it Important?
While most families in Orange County do well, the families
struggling to get by are the focus of this indicator. The
challenges associated with poverty – stress, strained family
relationships, substandard housing, lower educational
attainment, limited employment skills, unaffordable child care,
and transportation difficulties – make it hard for low income
families to obtain and maintain employment. Economic stability
can have lasting and measurable benefits for both parents
and children.

How is Orange County Doing?
Enrollment in cash assistance programs remained steady, while
food and health insurance program participation grew:
• The number of people receiving CalWORKs cash
assistance (38,498 in 2007/08) remained the same for the
first time in more than 10 years of steady declines.
• Welfare-to-Work participation in employment, education
and services remained largely unchanged.
• The number of people receiving Food Stamps continues to
grow, currently at 88,284 people, or 2.8% of the total
county population.1
• Medi-Cal enrollment grew 3% last year, while Healthy
Families enrollment rose 8%.
• The increasing enrollments for programs without time
limits reflects expanded eligibility and increased efforts to
enroll income-eligible people.

While the proportion of children living in low income families
fluctuates each year, the long-term trend is upward:

• 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced price
school meals in 2007/08, an increase of 6% over the past 10
• Wide disparities within the county are evident.


Housing Assistance Scarce; More Families Live Doubled-Up

Description of Indicator
This indicator measures Orange County families’ progress
toward housing stability by tracking availability of rental assistance,
and children that are homeless or living in unstable housing
arrangements. For additional countywide housing trends,
see Housing Demand, Housing Affordability, and Rental

Why is it Important?
High housing costs in Orange County force many families into
living conditions they would not choose otherwise. Living
doubled- or tripled-up with another family due to economic
constraints can place stress on personal relationships, housing
stock, public services and infrastructure. When shared housing
is not an option, or if other factors arise, such as foreclosure,
financial loss, or domestic violence, the result can be homelessness.

How is Orange County Doing?
Most residents seeking rental assistance will wait many years for
a voucher unless conditions or funding levels change:
• At the end of December 2008, there were 11,654 applicants
waiting for a Housing Choice Voucher.
• During 2008, the Orange County Housing Authority used
all of its allocated vouchers to assist an average of 9,619
households each month, and issued 671 vouchers to applicants
on the waiting list to replace families that terminated
from the program.
• The voucher supply remains limited because housing
authorities have not had the opportunity to apply to the federal
government for additional housing vouchers since 2003.
Federal law requires public school districts to report the number
of students living in shelters or unsheltered in cars, parks or
campgrounds, as well as in motels or with another family due to
economic hardship:
• In 2007/08, 17,051 Orange County students (mostly in
grades K-12) were identified as living in one of these unstable
housing conditions.1 This is a 30% increase over the past
• Families living doubled- or tripled-up in a home due to economic
hardship are the largest cohort with 15,817 students
living in these conditions.
• Additionally, 789 students live in motels, 385 live in shelters,
and 60 live unsheltered in cars, parks or campgrounds.

Saturday, October 16, 2010



Description of Indicator
This indicator measures the value and change in value of the
median-priced existing single-family detached home. It uses the
California Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index
to measure the percentage of households that can afford the
existing median-priced single-family detached home in Orange
County. It also compares homeownership rates.

Why is it Important?
High relative housing prices adversely impact businesses’ ability
to attract and retain workers. A shortage of affordable housing,
particularly for first-time buyers, discourages young workers
from moving to or remaining in Orange County. In addition,
a lack of affordable housing results in longer commutes, leading
to increased traffic congestion and pollution, decreased productivity
and diminished quality of life. Homeownership increases
stability for families and communities and is a significant means
of personal wealth creation.

How is Orange County Doing?
The single-family median home sale price is significantly less
than the previous year, although still out of reach for many:
• In July 2008, the median sale price of an existing singlefamily
detached home in Orange County was $537,570, down
$172,150 or 24% since July 2007.
• This price is still nearly $200,000 more than the state median
price for a comparable home in July 2008.

Housing affordability nearly doubled since last year:
• The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced
single-family home in Orange County is approximately $78,100.1
• As of the second quarter of 2008, 41% of households in
Orange County could afford an existing single-family
detached home that was priced at 85% of median (or
• This is significantly higher than the 23% able to afford the
same home in 2007.
• Orange County’s affordability rate is consistent with San
Diego and Los Angeles counties.
• Neighboring Riverside and San Bernardino counties remain
more affordable with housing affordability rates of 59% and
63%, respectively.

Homeownership rates rose slightly:
• Homeownership rates for Orange County rose from 62.4% in
2006 to 62.7% in 2007.
• Orange County has similar levels of homeownership as many
of our peer regions, but still lags behind the national rate by
approximately 4.5%.

[from page 23]
Housing Wage Drops for First Time

Description of Indicator
This indicator measures the Housing Wage – the hourly wage a resident needs to afford “Fair Market Rent” (the median rent in the Orange County market).

Why is it Important?
Lack of affordable rental housing can lead to overcrowding and household stress. Less affordable rental housing also restricts the ability of renters to save for a down payment on a home, limiting their ability to eventually become homeowners and build personal wealth through housing appreciation. Ultimately, a shortage of affordable housing for renters can instigate a cycle of poverty.

How is Orange County Doing?
Orange County’s Housing Wage decreased in 2009:
• For the first time since tracking began, the hourly wage needed for a one-bedroom apartment fell – from $25.57 in 2008 to $24.92
in 2009. This Housing Wage is equivalent to an annual income of $51,840.
• The hourly wages needed to afford two- and three-bedroom apartments also declined.
• Despite decreases in Housing Wage levels, Orange County has the second highest Housing Wage (less affordable rental housing)
compared to state and national peer metropolitan areas.

Renting in Orange County

Fair Market Rent (Monthly)
----------------2008 - 2009
One Bedroom ----$1,330 $1,296
Two Bedroom ----$1,595 $1,546
Three Bedroom --$2,282 $2,188

Amount a Household Earning Minimum Wage
Can Afford to Pay in Rent (Monthly)
2008: $416
2009: $416

Number of Hours per Week a Minimum Wage
Earner Must Work to Afford a One-Bedroom
2008: 128
2009: 125

Source: Orange County Business Council analysis of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Market Rent ( using the methodology of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (, and California Employment Development Department (

[from page 24]

Friday, October 15, 2010



Largest Clusters Split Between Growth and Decline

Description of Indicator
This indicator shows employment and salaries in 10 major
Orange County industry clusters. The clusters were chosen
to reflect the diversity of Orange County employment,
major economic drivers within the county, and important
industry sectors for workforce development. Approximately
40% of all Orange County jobs can be found in the 10 clusters
described in this indicator.

Why is it Important?
Employment change within specific clusters illustrates how
Orange County’s economy is evolving. Tracking salary levels
in these clusters shows whether these jobs can provide a
wage high enough for workers to afford to live in Orange

How is Orange County Doing?
Between 2006 and 2007, employment grew in seven of the
10 major industry clusters:
• Two of the largest clusters –Tourism and Health Services
– were part of this growth.
• The other two largest clusters – Business and Professional
Services, and Construction – experienced employment declines.
• Computer Hardware also experienced a decline.
• The largest employment gains occurred in Communications
(19.2%), Energy and Environment (11.5%), and Computer Software (6.4%).
Eight of the 10 major Orange County industry clusters
experienced salary increases between 2006 and 2007:
• The largest salary increases occurred in Communications
(11.8%), and Energy and Environment (8.8%).
• The two industries experiencing salary reductions were
Computer Software (-1.1%) and Biomedical (-3.1%).
• As presented in the Housing Affordability indicator, the
annual income needed to purchase a median-priced home
in Orange County is $78,100, affordable only to the top
three paying clusters.
• Despite salary increases, three of the four largest clusters
do not have an annual income high enough to afford
median rent on a one-bedroom apartment (estimated at
$51,840 in the Rental Affordability indicator).

Average Annual Salaries in Orange County Clusters
Orange County, 2007 Job Market

------------------------------------2007------------Change 2006-07
Defense and Aerospace -------------$95,199 -------------------6.7%
Computer Software -----------------$82,630 -----------------(-1.1%)
Biomedical ------------------------$80,198------------------(-3.1%)
Computer Hardware -----------------$70,432 --------------------1.7%
Communications --------------------$69,694 -------------------11.8%
Energy and Environment ------------$59,292 --------------------8.8%
Construction ----------------------$53,581 --------------------7.3%
Business and Professional Services $51,349 --------------------5.2%
Health Services -------------------$47,124 --------------------3.0%
Tourism ---------------------------$20,197 --------------------5.8%

Source: Orange County Business Council analysis of data from the California Employment
Development Department

[from page 21]
Economic Contraction Narrows Housing Gap

Description of Indicator
This indicator shows the ratio of new housing permits divided by new jobs created in Orange County compared with peer metropolitan
areas across the state and the country.

Why is it Important?
When an economy is growing, new housing is needed for the additional workers employed. When the housing demand is unmet, it can drive up home prices and apartment rents beyond what is affordable to many workers and residents. An expensive housing market
affects Orange County’s desirability as a business location partly because businesses have greater difficulty attracting and retaining workers — particularly young workers. In addition, residents face longer commute times due to people moving out of the county or to a small concentration of affordable areas within the county. Orange County’s housing deficit is the result of a long-term chasm between the amount of housing built relative to the number of jobs created. Even when the economy contracts, the gap is so wide that demand for new housing does not disappear. To begin to close a gap of this size, housing construction must increase and remain high in times of economic growth as well as contraction.

How is Orange County Doing?
Despite a significant decline in employment, the long-term housing
shortage that has existed in Orange County since the late-1990s
continues due to weak housing development:
• In 2007, employment dropped by 28,200 jobs while 7,372 new
housing permits were granted.
• The resulting ratio of -3.83 leaves Orange County with a
negative number of jobs (job losses) per new housing permit.
• This is in contrast to peer regions around the country (except for
the Inland Empire and Los Angeles) where job growth continued
in correspondence with housing permit growth.
• Still, since 1999, a total of 162,100 new jobs were created (including
losses) compared with 78,800 housing units permitted.
• In other words, for every 1.8 jobs created since 1999, one housing
unit has been permitted. The standard “healthy” ratio of jobs to
permits is 1.5 jobs per housing unit.
• All peer areas compared granted more housing permits than Orange County in 2007.

[from page 22]

Thursday, October 14, 2010



Housing Continues to Drive High Cost of Living

Description of Indicator
This indicator uses a cost of living index to compare prices of housing, consumer goods, and services for Orange County and peer
metropolitan regions. The weighted index compares local market prices in the following areas:
• Housing (28%) • Groceries (13%)
• Utilities (10%) • Transportation (10%)
• Health care costs (4%) • Miscellaneous items (35%)

The average for all 300 metro areas analyzed equals 100 and each area’s individual index is read as a percentage of the average for
all places.

Why is it Important?
A high cost of living relative to peer markets can make Orange County less attractive
as a destination for businesses and workers. In addition, businesses already operating in Orange County may opt to relocate or expand elsewhere. Current residents – particularly young workers – may decide to move to more affordable areas.

How is Orange County Doing?
In the second quarter of 2008:
• Orange County’s cost of living was the third highest of our peer regions, which are
among the highest of the 300 metro areas analyzed in the index.
• San Francisco and San Jose were the only markets more expensive.
• With 100 being average, Orange County measured 155.8 on the index (up from
154.9 last year).
• Orange County’s cost of living measures for groceries, utilities, transportation and miscellaneous items tended to rank in the middle among peers, but high housing
costs significantly affected the index, making Orange County’s score among the

[from page 19]
High Average Income and Growth Rate in 2006

Description of Indicator
This indicator measures per capita income levels and income
growth. Total personal income includes wages and salaries,
proprietor income, property income, and transfer payments, such as
pensions and unemployment insurance. Figures are not adjusted for

Why is it Important?
A high per capita income for residents is crucial in the context of
Orange County’s high housing costs. In addition, a higher relative
per capita income signals greater discretionary income for the
purchase of goods and services.

How is Orange County Doing?
Orange County boasts fast income growth in recent years:
• In 2006, Orange County’s per capita income of $48,209 was
higher than the state and national averages and up 6.0% from
$44,465 in 2005.
• When compared to peer and neighboring markets, Orange
County has the fourth highest per capita income, trailing only
San Jose, Boston and Seattle.
• Between 1997 and 2006, Orange County posted a per capita
income growth of 5.1%, which is faster than all peer regions
compared except for San Diego.
• Over this same 10-year period, the average inflation rate was
2.5%, which should be taken into account when interpreting
these income growth percentages.
• As the country slips into recession, per capita income is
anticipated to decline.

[from page 20]

Thursday, September 30, 2010


The following are 15 shocking poverty statistics that are skyrocketing as the American middle class continues to be slowly wiped out....

#1 Approximately 45 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009.

#2 According to the Associated Press, experts believe that 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the U.S. poverty rate since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959.

#3 The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#4 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on a year-over-year basis, household participation in the food stamp program has increased 20.28%.

#5 The number of Americans on food stamps surpassed 41 million for the first time ever in June.

#6 As of June, the number of Americans on food stamps had set a new all-time record for 19 consecutive months.

#7 One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.

#8 More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

#9 One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

#10 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it in 2007.

#11 The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has risen over 60 percent in just the past year.

#12 According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

#13 Nationwide, bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12 month period ending June 30th.

#14 More than 25 percent of all Americans now have a credit score below 599.

#15 One out of every five children in the United States is now living in poverty.

As millions more Americans continue to climb on to the "safety net", how long is it going to be before it breaks?

The reality is that the system can only support so many people. We are now at a point where our anti-poverty programs are clearly unsustainable in the long-term, but nobody has a solution for how we are going to get all of these people off of these programs or how we are going to provide good jobs for all of them.

The cost of every U.S. government anti-poverty program is absolutely soaring. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is already running a budget deficit that is approaching 1.5 trillion dollars every year. If you cannot understand that we have a very serious problem on our hands then you are probably not awake.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

POVERTY IN THE O.C. (One Family's Story)

SAN CLEMENTE – Allen Pederson pulls into a parking slot at San Clemente State Beach, hoping he gets a meter with a little time left.

Renting by the hour with a few coins is all he can do now. This 1998 white Ford van is Pederson's real estate reality; 25 square feet he calls "our little apartment."
Beside Allen is his wife of 21 years, Regina. This was her vehicle, the one she used to drive the couple's three kids to church, the one with the "Best Mom" license plate frame intact.

It's sunset on a recent Thursday, and the couple sits down on a park bench on the bluff overlooking the ocean, and Allen jokes that this is his living room. Dinner is from Taco Bell, a tostada, burrito and Diet Coke eating up most of the last $5 Allen had in his wallet.

This is all the Pedersons have left of what Allen called "the Orange County Dream." They have lost everything since Allen lost his job in 2005, an event that triggered a domino effect of decline for the family, down to being homeless and what Allen admits is now day-to-day survival.

"It's just kinda like, where did it go? It was just there. It happened so fast! You think, 'It will never happen to me.' I think back, how did it happen?" Allen says. "How did this happen?"



Who gives more to those in need; the rich or the poor?

For decades, surveys have shown that upper-income Americans don’t give away as much of their money as they might and are particularly undistinguished as givers when compared with the poor, who are strikingly generous. A number of other studies have shown that lower-income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans. In 2001, Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization focused on charitable giving, found that households earning less than $25,000 a year gave away an average of 4.2 percent of their incomes; those with earnings of more than $75,000 gave away 2.7 percent.

This situation is perplexing if you think of it in terms of dollars and cents: the poor, you would assume, don’t have resources to spare, and the personal sacrifice of giving is disproportionately large. The rich do have money to spend. Those who itemize receive a hefty tax break to make charitable donations, a deduction that grows more valuable the higher they are on the income scale. And the well-off are presumed to have at least a certain sense of noblesse oblige. Americans pride themselves on their philanthropic tradition, and on the role of private charity, which is much more developed here than it is in Europe, where the expectation is that the government will care for the poor.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


Premieres This Monday, July 26th at 9pm on HBO

About this documentary
HOMELESS: THE MOTEL KIDS OF ORANGE COUNTY explores the world of children who reside in discounted motels within walking distance of Disneyland, living in limbo as their families struggle to survive in one of the wealthiest regions of America.

The parents of motel kids are often hard workers who don’t earn enough to own or rent homes. As a result, they continue to live week-to-week in motels, hoping against hope for an opportunity that might allow them to move up in the O.C.

For more information on the show - AND TO WATCH A TRAILER OF THE FILM:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

O.C. workers' costs are twice minimum wage

June 24th, 2010, 2:33 pm
by Mary Ann Milbourn

Lower-income working adults and families face tough times making due in Orange County where costs for just a modest lifestyle are twice the $8 state minimum wage — and in some cases more than four times, according to a new report released today.

By the California Budget Project's count, a single parent in Orange County with two children must bring in $72,373 a year to cover basic household costs. That means a single parent working two full-time jobs at minimum wage would fall short. Even a single parent earning California's $19.01 median hourly wage and working a 40-hour week would not be able to meet expenses.

Families with one working adult must make $57,809 yearly. Single adults need $34,932 a year.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010



# Staying clean is very important. Trust me on this. People trust you more when you're clean and you'll have an easier time spinning yourself as "adventurous" rather than "destitute." More on this later.
# If you can find a restroom with a lock, you can take a fairly complete bath with a washcloth and a sink.

# If you can't actually bathe, do a whore's bath once a day. Get some hand sanitizer, the gel with high alcohol content, and rub yourself down, especially in the stinky areas. It won't get you clean per se and the alcohol will dry out your skin, but it'll disinfect you and kill all the smell-causing microorganisms. Follow this with deodorant and baby powder.

# The easiest way to LOOK clean and safe is to keep your hair and beard trimmed. The simplest and cheapest way to do this is to get some inexpensive hair clippers and clip it short once or twice a week.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Current Statistics on Homelessness in Orange County

*From the OC Community Indicators Report 2008

How is Orange County Doing?
Orange County’s Housing Wage rates increased in 2007:
• The hourly wage needed for a one-bedroom apartment rose from $23.81 in 2006 to $25.57 in 2007 – equivalent to an annual income
of $53,185.
• Among state and national peer metropolitan areas, Orange County has the highest Housing Wage (less affordable rental housing).
• According to employment projections, most of the occupations likely to have large gains in the county’s high-growth industries (services,
manufacturing, and retail trade) have hourly wages far below the Housing Wage.

(from page 26)



Description of Indicator

This indicator measures Orange County families’ progress toward
housing stability by tracking availability of rental assistance,
residential overcrowding, and homelessness. For additional countywide
housing trends see Housing Demand, Housing Affordability,
and Rental Affordability.

Why is it Important?
High housing costs in Orange County force many families into
overcrowded living conditions, which places stress on personal
relationships, housing stock, public services and infrastructure.
When sharing housing is not an option, or other factors such as
foreclosure, financial loss, or domestic violence arise, the result can
be homelessness.

How is Orange County Doing?
Residents might have to wait as long as seven years for rental
assistance vouchers unless conditions or funding levels change:
• In 2005, when the Orange County Housing Authority’s Section 8 waiting list was opened for the first time since 2001, 18,600 families applied for vouchers to help defray high housing costs.
• Santa Ana and Anaheim each have their own housing authority
and their vouchers are similarly in high demand.
• The voucher supply is limited because housing authorities have
not been given the opportunity to apply to the federal government
for additional housing vouchers since 2003.

In response to No Child Left Behind, public school districts now
report the number of students identified as homeless, which the law
defines as children living in shelters or unsheltered in cars, parks or
campgrounds, as well as students living in motels or
overcrowded conditions:
• In 2006/07, 13,130 Orange County students primarily in grades K-12 were identified as homeless or unstably housed.1
• This is a 13% increase over the past year.
• Families living doubled- or tripled-up in someone else’s home due to economic hardship are the largest cohort with 11,639 students living in this kind of overcrowded condition.
• Orange County school districts report an additional 813 students live in motels, 473 live in shelters, and 144 students live unsheltered in cars, parks or campgrounds.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Poverty in the OC" - Interactive Presentation
Over the last five years I've put together a brief interactive presentation that educates people about what poverty looks like in Orange County, as well as what God's Word says about how we should respond to those in need around us, combined with practical suggestions about how to get started serving the poor in our community.

So far God has blessed me to share this interactive and informative presentation with several groups ranging from mega-churches in Costa Mesa (RockHarbor), to house churches throughout Orange, and at conferences in Tustin ("The Heart of Jesus") and Newport Beach ("Soul Survivor: Engage").

The presentation is the easiest thing I've ever done because, the way it's structured, I hardly have to teach or speak at all. Instead everyone who participates draws one slip of paper from two different piles- one is a stack of stats on poverty in the O.C., the other is a verse from Scripture regarding God's heart for the poor.

I ask each person to take one of each and write a reaction to these two randomly drawn bits of information. After they're done I ask each person to read their stat, read their verse and share with the group their reactions.

Every time I have lead one of these presentations I have always been amazed at how these "random" verses collide with the statistics on poverty. We never get through the presentation without someone breaking into tears or having a serious moment with the Holy Spirit concerning the very real issues of poverty families face here in our community and the heart of God for His people to love them and respond.

Each time God has amazed me with what He's done in people's lives and how He's touched the hearts of many to step out and serve others.

If you, or any other group or church you know of, would be interested in having me come and share this presentation with you, I'd be happy to do so. This will work with both large and small groups of people.

My heart's desire is to see God's people here in Orange County step out of their comfort zones and begin to love the least and the lost in the community around us.

Let me know if you have any questions about this or if I can serve you in this area.


Keith Giles
Email: "Elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"


I highly recommend Keith Giles’ interactive presentation on “Poverty in the OC”. First Keith knows his topic. He brings together careful research with the practical wisdom and undiminished compassion that comes with years of first-hand experience.

Secondly, he has a gracious approach to teaching his topic that shames nobody, and engages everybody – young and old. He was able heighten our awareness of the serious problem of poverty, and at the same time to inspire in us a new sense of possibility that ordinary people like us, with God’s help, could make a difference in the lives of those in need. Keith’s compassion for the poor in Orange County is infectious, and by the time he had finished we had all caught the bug.

Marti Clark
Regional ALPHA Ministries Event Coordinator

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Poverty in our country may not be as severe as what we see in Africa or India or Mexico, but that does not mean that it is any less poverty.

For example, if you were to give air conditioning or color television to one of those families living in a cardboard box in the Sudan, would they cease being poor? Of course not. And families in America with color tvs and air conditioning are no less poor because of their level of comfort. They are still poor. And they are "Our Poor".

I belive that there is a Biblical difference between how we are called to serve the poor in other countries and "our poor". The poor in India, Mexico, Ethiopa, etc. are seriously, desperately poor. No one argues that. This is why I've served on the board for groups like Arms of Love (, a ministry that builds orphanages in the poorest nations of the world to provide homes for street children who live in the city dumps and are forced into prostitution, etc.
So, please, let's be clear; I'm not saying don't help the poor who are "out there".

But the poor in your city, in my city, down the street from me, they are "our poor", and what we're called to do, Biblically, is something about it. Not to solve poverty. Not to cure it. Not to erase poverty forever, but to do what we can to help a few, in the name of Jesus and with the compassion of Jesus.

Actually, as I've said before, the point of serving the poor is not to "cure" or "solve" poverty, but to befriend people who are in need and to learn to love and serve them as we would serve and love Jesus. We are the one's who are most changed in that relationship, by the way.

The quote from Jesus in Matthew about "the poor you will always have with you" was Jesus referencing Deuteronomy 15:7-11. You should seriously read this passage. The point is that God, the Father, is commanding the Jews to not have a hard-heart or a closed fist towards the poor, the stranger, etc., but to give generously, freely to the poor among them. At the end of the passage, God say, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

That's what Jesus means when he says what he does in Matthew.

Read Matthew 25. At the Judgment Seat of Christ the one criteria is whether or not those who call him "Lord" had any regard for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the prisoner. The Sheep almost unconsciously care for these poor, not because they think it will get them into Heaven, but simply because they have genuinely been transformed into the people of God. The Goats, who also call Him "Lord", have the same unconscious attitude, but towards the existence of the poor or their needs.

The people of God, redeemed by the Blood, saved by Grace, seem to have an inability to walk past someone who is naked, poor, hungry, thirsty, lonely, etc. and do nothing. They cannot do that. It's not in their new nature.

We have a Biblical mandate (and it's alllll over the Scripture, both Old and New) to care for the poor..."our poor"...and that takes more than writing a check.

Again, this is my very biased conviction. I've been hammered by God on this issue and I cannot let it go because it won't let me go.

Do you know what the sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49. It's not what you think. "Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."


How about this one?

Galatians 2:10- "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." (Paul being sent out as the first missionary by Peter, James and John).


{God is speaking of King Josiah:}
"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jeremiah 22:16)


"Is that not what it means to know me?"

What does it mean to "Know" God? This verse suggests that it means to care for the poor and the needy.

and of course we could also look at, Isaiah 58:6-7, Amos 5:21-24, 1 John 3:17-18, James 2:14-17, etc., etc.

God has called us to care for the poor, not to justify their poverty or our lack of compassion by comparing them to the "real poor" in third world countries. are we doing with serving and loving and befriending "Our Poor"?

-Keith Giles

OC POVERTY SUMMIT - Saturday, March 20th

This will be a small, in-home gathering of about 25 different social justice practitioners and a few seekers who are interested in learning more about God's heart for the poor and how poverty in Orange County is affecting people around us.

Here are a few of the people who will be joining in this unscripted conversation about poverty in Orange County:

Brandt Russo (
Crissy Brooks (MIKA CDC)
Jarred Romley (de la Soul)
Tommy Nixon (Solidarity Rising)
David Ruis (Basilea Church)
Ron Wilbur (Saddleback Motel Ministry)
Thomas Crisp (Biola)
Wendy McMahan (Poverty Unlocked)
Chase Andre
Keith Giles (
....and others

Looking forward to what God will do as we gather together.

More later...