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In the May 28th edition of the Hawthorne Press Tribune, the Hawthorne City Council discussed on interesting matter, in which a local church was receiving federal Housing and Urban Development funding:
Brief contention came when New Life
Christian Fellowship Church was granted
$885,000 in Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) money to be used to create affordable
rental housing in the city.
“As a ministry for the past 25 years, we have
done a lot of support of this city,” Marjorie
Drake, a member of the New Journey Ministries,
said. “We have helped individuals with their rent
and utilities bills and I’m really excited to see
us come together and work as a community.”
Vargas questioned why the paperwork for
that grant hadn’t been passed along to the City
Attorney’s office for approval until late last
week. City Attorney Russell Miyahira stated
that he had looked over the paper work for the
appropriation of the money over the holiday
weekend and that it all checked out.
The statement from Marjorie Drake "we have helped individuals with their rent" is somewhat inaccurate.
It is not their money, but federal money, and they are spending the money "affordable housing", yet actually the money helps with utilities and other costs.
Who is getting this money?
One community leader in the city was telling me about the housing problems in Hawthorne, and this issue of subsidized rent may be part of the problem.
People who cannot afford to live in a apartment because of the cost need to live somewhere else. The federal government, and by extension the city council, should not be in the business of helping people pay their rent. People living on subsidized rent -- are they able to contribute to the city, to their community? What kind of productivity do these individuals bring to the city, as well?
Even if the paperwork has checked out, and the process is approved legally, a moral consideration arises. Why are churches getting federal money? Houses of worship, and centers in spiritual development, should not be expecting a handout from the federal government.
That money does not belong to them.
Hawthorne has had bad experiences with HUD money before, including the failed Gold's Gym investment, which sank the city with a huge debt following the business's closure.
Twenty-year mayor Larry Guidi stepped down in connection with a felony charge, which was reduced to a misdemeanor. His successor Danny Juarez plead guilty to corruption charges, as well, and now current mayor Chris Brown is under fire for lavish spending for purported civic business trips, as well as debt-arrears for two apartments which he had rented.
Now there are churches in the city taking federal money for expanded housing?
This misuse and misappropriation of federal funds, trying to gin up business as well as provide housing, has got to stop.
City leaders need to push away disbursing money in this fashion. Furthermore, for churches to operate in the most open and trustworthy manner, they should not be taking federal money of any kind and assisting with daily living expense for anyone.
To put it bluntly, this collusion of church and state with taxpayer money must cease.
Founding Father James Madison could not have said it better:
"Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
If a church cannot get by on the goodness and grace of God, then all the money from the government will not get them any better. Hawthorne City Council and staff should not only investigate the mayor's spending habits, but also the ongoing disbursement of federal monies for housing.
The crime and delinquency rates tend to correlated with government subsidies and public assistance. A city which hopes to thrive cannot pay the bills for other residents, especially with taxpayer dollars from the federal government.