Come Together 2020: Homelessness Summit

Homelessness Summit 2020

UPDATE (Wednesday, March 11): Registration is closed and this event postponed. 

After monitoring the development of COVID-19 and our city’s response to it, Rescue Alliance has determined the need to postpone the Homelessness Summit indefinitely. The future date is to be determined. Your health and safety is important to us, and we are closing registration at this time. We will be sending additional details to our confirmed attendees, and will also send updates about a new date later this year. In the meantime, please take the necessary precautions recommended by the CDC.

While this large gathering is postponed, HFNY affiliates are continuing to provide essential programs and resources to our homeless neighbors. For more information on how you can serve and engage directly with these programs offered by Rescue Alliance, please go to: HFNY Volunteer, The Bowery Mission, New York City Relief, The Salvation Army.

About Come Together 2020: Homelessness Summit 

Want to connect better with our neighbors living on the street?

You're invited to Come Together 2020: Homelessness Summit, a special one-day event hosted by the Rescue Alliance, a collaboration of faith-based organizations working together to restore the well-being of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.

Attend main events with keynote speakers as well as short breakout sessions that will help our city understand issues surrounding homelessness. 

The purpose of the Summit is to:

  • educate you on the realities vs. myths of homelessness
  • equip you with helpful tools and resources to be a part of city renewal
  • engage you in connecting better with our homeless neighbors

If you have volunteered with Don't Walk By or any HFNY affiliates who directly support our neighbors in need, this event is a good way for you to go deeper toward understanding specific daily struggles. 

Want to Learn More?

Share your name and email by clicking the button below, and we will send you future updates about the new event date and other reminders.


Rescue Alliance organizations include:

About Our Keynote Speaker

Rich Villodas


Rich Villodas is the Brooklyn-born lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, a large, multiracial church with more than seventy-five countries represented in Elmhurst, Queens. Prior to becoming lead pastor, he gave oversight to New Life's small group ministry and served as preaching pastor. Rich graduated with a BA in pastoral ministry and theology from Nyack College. He went on to complete his master's of divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary. He enjoys reading widely, and preaching and writing on contemplative spirituality, justice-related issues, and the art of preaching. He's been married to Rosie since 2006 and they have two beautiful children, Karis and Nathan. Rich’s first book, The Deeply Formed Life, will be out September 2020.



Breakout Sessions: More Details


MORNING SESSIONS (11:30-12:30 pm)

The Intersection of Mental Health and Homelessness 
Leader: Richard Vernon, The Salvation Army

  • Cheryl Harris Sharman | Spiritual Director and Retreat Leader, Mt. St. Mary’s University
  • Helena Duran | Manager, Faith Sector Community Preparedness Program, NYDIS
  • Patricia Hernandez | Associate Director, Metro Team Corporation for Supportive Housing
  • Robert DeGuzman | Senior Director, Clinical Services, The Bowery Mission

Mental health issues are among the complex and overlapping forces that put, and keep, our neighbors on the street. Life on the street exacerbates mental health issues even in people who were emotionally stable before they became homeless. This breakout session is an opportunity for us to deepen our compassion through understanding. Join a panel of experts in a lively environment to learn more about how even simple, chronic fatigue affects mental health, decision making, and the ability to trust.

Understanding the Path Out of Homelessness 

  • Cheryl Mitchell | Chief Program Officer, The Bowery Mission
  • Erica Strang | Director, Manhattan Outreach Consortium, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)

Because the factors that lead to homelessness are many, complex and overlapping, the paths to recovery and independent living must be equally responsive and diverse — and collaboration is essential. In this workshop, hear from a unique panel of NYC care providers who will discuss the opportunities for care, the barriers, and the hopeful outcomes that can come from collaboration.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Going Deeper with Those Who Are Homeless
Leader: Hope for New York

  • Jess Wright | (current) Director of Systems and Analytics and (former) Director of Volunteer Services, NYC Relief
  • Kareem Goubran | Director of Adult Ministries, Graffiti Community Church
  • Zac Martin | Pastor of Youth and Outreach, Recovery House of Worship Brooklyn

Are there ways that followers of Christ can engage in a more deep and lasting way of renewal that moves beyond the first service opportunity?  This workshop is intended for lay people interested in actively engaging with homelessness. We will outline practical ways you, your small group, and your church can engage more substantially with our neighbors experiencing homelessness and poverty. We will address both the challenges and the opportunities that Christians encounter as they grow toward a lifestyle of service.

Sacred Shelter: Thirteen Journeys of Homelessness and Healing
Leader: Sade Ogun | Community Resource Coordinator, Rescue Alliance 

  • Susan Celia Greenfield | Professor of English at Fordham University, editor of Sacred Shelter: Thirteen Journeys of Homelessness and Healing
  • Marc Greenberg | Director, Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness
  • James Addison | Director of Operations, LEFSA 
Homelessness has reached epic proportions in the city. But rarely do people who have experienced and overcome it get to tell their life stories. In Sacred Shelter: Thirteen Journeys of Homelessness and Healing, thirteen homeless people are given the opportunity to tell their story on their terms. This workshop will give you an opportunity to hear from the authors about their own journey, along with the best way for you to address homelessness in our city. 

What YOUR Church Can Do About the Homelessness Crisis
Leader: Chelsea Horvath | Director of Community Ministries, All Angels' Church
  • Phyllis Walker | Homeless Outreach Specialist, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Church
  • John Sheehan | Director of Ecumenical Outreach Services, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church 
  • Zach Lembke | Director of CityServe, Lead.NYC
  • Reggie Miller| Executive Director, Emergency Shelter Network


This workshop is intended for church leaders and congregations interested in actively engaging with the problem of homelessness. It will explore different ways of engagement, while considering the unique challenges and benefits of the call to action. This workshop asks, how are our churches being called to be present in the crisis, and how do we take steps towards answering that call?




Housing Affordability: Challenges and Opportunities
Leader: Matt Dunbar | Vice President of External Affairs, Habitat For Humanity

  • Marc Greenberg | Executive Director, Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness
  • Ava Farkas | Executive Director, Met Council on Housing
  • Rev. Kermit Williams | Executive Director, Kingdom Faith Developers 

NYC is an expensive place to live! More than 500,000 individuals are a mere paycheck away from becoming homeless, with 60,000 already living in temporary housing (and 4000+ on the street). Rent increases happen every day. Gentrification contributes to displacement of lower-income people through attendant increases in rent, causing us to ask “Is there ever going to be affordable housing that will stop the bleeding? Is there something I can do about it? Will there ever be justice?” This workshop will show you what you can do and HOW you can do it.

I Want to Help But Don’t Know How
Leader: Josiah Haken | VP of Outreach, NYC Relief

Many New Yorkers have the same basic questions, such as: What do I do when I see someone on the street? Is it safe to approach them? Should I call 311? Do I give them money for food or will that cause more problems? I want to help them, but what are the best ways to do so? In this workshop, we’ll talk about how to engage our friends in safe, meaningful ways that respect the dignity of all parties involved. 

Tackling Youth Homelessness
Leader: Brian Moll | Executive Director, Rescue Alliance
Speaker: Shakeema North | Covenant House

Reports reveal there are hundreds of unaccompanied homeless youth living on the streets of our city. Many have experienced family abuse, violence, rejection, and instability that led to their homelessness. During this session we'll hear about some of the root causes of youth homelessness, along with how organizations are addressing it and how we can get involved.  

Women & Homelessness
Leader: The Bowery Mission

  • Kristy Fils-Aime | Associate Director of Clinical Services, The Bowery Mission
  • Laura Galt | NYC Coordinator, Safe Families for Children

According to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, domestic violence accounted for more than 40% of the family population entering Department of Homelessness Services (DHS) shelters in Fiscal Year 2018 – by far the single largest cause of homelessness for those entering DHS shelters. This carries significant implications for women, children and families. Join a dialogue between two key organizations that provide direct care and support to women who are experiencing homelessness or are vulnerable to homelessness due to domestic violence. During this session, participants will learn more about the causes of homelessness among women and ways in which volunteers can participate in both recovery and prevention for women, children and families in crisis.

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