The Rev. Michael Curry, left, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church who gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month, was in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon for a rally that sought to highlight homelessness. Photo by Scott Johnston

The Rev. Michael Curry, left, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church who gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month, was in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon for a rally that sought to highlight homelessness. Photo by Scott Johnston

Bishop Curry speaks at Aberdeen affordable-housing rally

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month.

By Scott D. Johnston

The Rev. Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church who gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month, joined about 100 participants in a tour of downtown Aberdeen and vigil at City Hall Saturday afternoon that sought to highlight homelessness in the city and push for 2,000 new affordable housing units. The event was organized by “Harbor Rising,” a new group that includes representatives from Chaplains on the Harbor, Democracy Rising, Blind Justice and Harbor Roots, all of which have advocated for the homeless.

“A movement starts small and keeps on growing,” Bishop Curry told the crowd outside City Hall. He cited the biblical parable of the tiny mustard seed that eventually grows into a tree, and proclaimed, “This is a mustard seed movement!”

He encouraged people to expand the push for local housing solutions and urged them to embrace the notion that, “We are a family that doesn’t let anybody go without a home.”

According to Rev. Sarah Monroe from Chaplains on the Harbor, Curry had been touring the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and became interested in joining the Aberdeen event. His visit to the Northwest was scheduled before his royal wedding sermon was broadcast and replayed around the world. Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia accompanied Curry Saturday.

The event began in the parking lot next to Jay’s Farm Stand at Heron and G Streets. Following some Native American songs and prayers and a few preliminary remarks, the group walked behind a Harbor Rising banner down to the railroad tracks near an area with the Harbor’s largest homeless encampment.

Monroe said 22 of the county’s homeless have died “on the street” over the past two years.

“We’re here to remember the people we have lost and to demand that the city and county center and prioritize affordable housing,” Monroe stated.

Organizers claim that research and surveys show approximately 1,000 people are homeless in Aberdeen, and that for the nearly 3,500 extremely low-income and very low-income households in the county, only about 1,200 affordable units are available. They added that 862 units stand vacant in Aberdeen, most of them currently unfit for human habitation.

To empower its vision that 2,000 units be built or restored in Aberdeen to fill the gap in affordable housing availability, Harbor Rising “imagines responsible agencies partnering with local organizations to provide housing including pathways to home-ownership and employment in housing construction and restoration,” according to their press release.

Along the way from the homeless encampment to City Hall, the group stopped by some sites they said might represent possible housing locations and a potential low-income detox center. At City Hall, the group set up a vigil for those lost, and Curry, Monroe and others spoke.

Curry said he came to Aberdeen to support the event because, “What I hope for is an awakening of awareness of the need to care for the homeless in ways that are just and loving.”

The vigil continued through the night, as eight people slept until Sunday morning in a small tent city they set up in front of City Hall.

__________

This story was first published in the Aberdeen Daily World.

More in Northwest

A high tide at Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Grays Harbor County, Washington. Sound Publishing file photo
On the West Coast, Washington is most prone to sea level rise damage

Report by the Center for Climate Integrity shows multibillion-dollar cost of battling back the sea.

Photo Provided by Naomi Parkman Sansome Facebook Page
Buckle up for another smoky summer

Wildfires in Washington will likely roar back this year and into the future.

What’s next for Washington’s 2045 green energy goal?

The Legislature set the goal, but how does the state actually get there?

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Self-driving cars: Heaven or hell?

Depending on factors, traffic and environmental impacts could become better or worse.

Susan’s quest for ‘justice’ and the civil legal system dilemma

While citizens have the right to an attorney in criminal cases, they’re not afforded the same rights in civil litigation.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

I’ll miss Doug Baldwin the player, but I’ll miss the man more

I witnessed ‘Contemplative Doug,’ not ‘Angry Doug,’ in my time covering the Seahawks.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Overdose deaths continue to rise locally and nationally

This may not be the same opioid epidemic anymore.

Cherry trees fully in bloom at the State Capitol Building in Olympia. Photo by Linda J. Smith
I-1000 passes state Legislature as advocates hope to increase equality

The initiative could allow affirmative action to return to Washington state after 20 years.