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Fair Housing and Faith Based Organizations: UCC Back Bay Mission, Biloxi Mississippi

Ask any member of the United Church of Christ about Back Bay Mission, and, nine times out of ten, they will have heard of it. UCC Congregations across the nation send groups of volunteers to work with the construction and rehab professionals at the Back Bay Housing Rehabilitation Program (HRP).

The goal of HRP is to help low-income homeowners can keep their homes affordable, maintainable and sustainable by performing anything from simple maintenance and repairs, such as patching and painting and mitigating fire damage, to major renovations that can cost as much as $50,000. The HRP provides the funds and the workers to make these renovations possible. As each home receives TLC, it isn’t only the homeowner who benefits, but the whole neighborhood is strengthened by homes that are well-maintained.  With rehabilitation and repair, the homeowners in the program are able to remain in their homes, which are often the only major asset they have.

While the people whose homes receive care are the most important clients of this program; the volunteers who come from all over the country also benefit, as do their communities. Back Bay Mission uses their HRP program to educate their volunteers about issues of poverty and homelessness. Volunteers return to their home communities across the nation prepared to advocate for people in impoverished circumstances and support justice efforts in their own backyards.

The Back Bay Mission realizes that affordable, safe housing is just one issue facing those who live in impoverished circumstances. They also provide food assistance, emergency funds to individuals facing a wide variety of financial difficulties, a day center for people experiencing homelessness, and case management to assist people in escaping the web of circumstances that create poverty. Their HRP is one important aspect of their work. Back Bay is an essential element of the justice work of the United Church of Christ, and one way that faith-based organizations are making a difference in the struggle for affordable, maintainable and sustainable housing.

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