Saturday, November 11, 2023

Book Review: Grace Can Lead Us Home: A Christian Call to End Homelessness by Kevin Nye

Grace Can Lead Us Home: A Christian Call to End Homelessness by Kevin Nye
207 pages
Published August 9th, 2022 by Herald Press
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grace Can Lead Us Home is a must-read that will challenge your assumptions about homelessness, its causes, and potential solutions. Author Kevin Nye is the assistant director of programs at The Center in Hollywood, a non-religious non-profit providing services and advocacy for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

Nye argues that homelessness is a problem of unaffordable housing, and no matter how they end up homeless, all people deserve the resources they need, including housing. He explores the complex and interconnected issues that contribute to homelessness, such as affordable housing, mental illness, addiction, trauma, and systemic injustice. Nye does not shy away from the hard questions or the messy realities, but he also offers hope and grace to both the unhoused and the housed. He writes, "By drawing readers back to the biblical vision of justice, Kevin Nye gives readers a new lens for seeing their unhoused neighbors."

In chapter four Nye talks about the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who are unhoused, in large part due to being kicked out of their homes. Sadly, even if they go to shelters, they aren’t always safe, especially trans women. Many faith-based shelters are explicitly non-affirming and trans women are forced to sleep in rooms with cisgender men “puts them at direct risk for targeted violence.”
“As the battles over LGBTQ+ affirmation rage on in Christian institutions, we cannot lose sight of the physical and psychological harm we are inflicting on people whom God loves. Our limited theological imaginations, which prioritize how we think and feel about sexuality and gender identity over how we value the actual lives of fellow bearers of the divine image, is driving LGBTQ+ people to homelessness and all its subsequent harms.”
I also appreciate the emphasis on harm reduction in chapter five. “Harm reduction” generally is about minimizing harm to people instead of demanding perfection. When it comes to substance abuse, Nye writes: “Harm reduction” is a set of beliefs for approaching substance use and addiction that highlights users’ choice, autonomy, and safety.” Therefore, the response to substance abuse shouldn’t be about punishment, but first about reducing the harm to people and communities impacted.

This book is not only informative but also transformative. It will challenge you to rethink your theology, your politics, and your relationships. It will also inspire you to join God's work of restoring dignity, healing, and community to those who are often overlooked and ignored. Grace Can Lead Us Home is a timely and prophetic call for Christians to end homelessness in our world.

Table of Contents
-A Note On Language
1. Seeing And Being Seen
2. Housing
3. Isolation And Connection
4. Community And Solidarity
5. Mental Health
6. Substance Use and Overdose
7. Addiction And Recovery
8. Abundance, Beauty, and Celebration

“We must push for solutions that actually end homelessness, rather than ones that simply push it out of sight and out of mind.”

Grace Can Lead Us Home Affiliate Purchase Links: (supports local bookstores)

I actually got to meet Kevin in person at Evolving Faith in October!
Kevin and Neyhart pictured together at Evolving Faith 2023

Kevin Nye is a writer and advocate working toward ending homelessness by engaging best practices. He has written on the intersections of homelessness and faith for Religion News Service, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, and more. He has presented at national conferences on the topic of homelessness, including Housing First Partners Conference 2022.

Kevin currently lives with his wife and son in Minneapolis, MN, where he works as Housing Director at an organization addressing youth homelessness.

Follow Kevin on the web: 
Twitter: @kevinmnye1 

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