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Sanctuary Or Shalom

Our Guiding Vision

Sanctuary Or Shalom is a congregation-wide effort to support immigrants under threat in our community and to assist in their efforts to create a better life for themselves and their communities. The immigrant’s struggle does not end once they cross the border. Supporting the community goals and actions of immigrants is part of Or Shalom’s ongoing antiracist work.

Contact Leslie at sanctuary@orshalomsf.org to get involved.

Do you want to be part of the housing solution for migrants in San Francisco?

Calling all individuals, landlords, and congregations in San Francisco to join efforts to support newcomers in the Bay Area. With IM4HI’s support, YOU can make a life-saving direct difference in a migrant's family’s life by being part of a network that can offer temporary respite housing for 1-3 months in your home, in-law unit, apartment building, or congregation.

With your support, we can help migrant families get off the street, shelter in dignity and gain stability they need to make a new beginning. Please join us at our upcoming SF Migrant Housing Forum on Thursday, March 21 at 6:00 pm to learn new and creative ways YOU can be part of the solution!

Housing is the number one challenge for immigrants in San Francisco, especially for those who have recently arrived. Shelter systems and hotel vouchers are unavailable. When looking for a rental, asylum seekers are asked for credit history, security deposits, IDs, and other market requirements that they simply do not have until a few months after getting settled in the U.S. 

How can you help?

  • Call your supervisor and the mayor (contact information for Mayor Breed and uncommitted supervisors below) to ask them to support Faith in Action Bay Area’s Newly Arrived Immigrants Committee proposals (also below). These proposals are echoed by supervisors in this recently proposed resolution introduced to the Board of Supervisors. Details below!
  • Attend Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity’s Migrant Housing Forum and be part of a mutual aid solution until the demands above are met- details below!

Faith in Action

The Faith in Action Bay Area Newly Arrived Immigrant Families Committee proposals are simple and cost-effective, and based on their lived experience and months of research. Please email your supervisors and Mayor Breed. If your supervisor is not listed, they already supported the resolution. Please email and thank them. 

Demands of Faith in Action Bay Area’s Newly Arrived Families Committee:

  1. We call on the Department of Homelessness to guarantee shelter space or a hotel voucher the same day that any family with children arrives at a City Access Point.
  2. We call on the Department of Homelessness to expedite the movement of families from shelters into more permanent housing, with an online public dashboard where families and the public can monitor the waiting list and movement of families into permanent housing

We partner with Faith in Action Bay Area to support newly arrived immigrants. Given the city’s current inability to provide shelter and other basic needs for newly arrived immigrant families, Faith in Action has many efforts underway to ensure that families get food and shelter.

  • Several newly arrived immigrant families have teamed with SFUSD educators to form an action team that is working with the city to improve SF’s available resources when a family first arrives.
  • Long-time FIABA Latina leaders are putting on a fundraiser on November 18 th 2:00 pm at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist on 1661 15 th Street with food, music and fun! Funds will go towards emergency needs for housing or food when families arrive in San Francisco.
  • Faith in Action congregations are providing food for newly arrived immigrants to fill in meals that the shelters or schools don’t provide (or if families are temporarily put up in hotels). Or Shalom is currently asking Or Shalom groups or committees to volunteer to provide a meal (or meals) for 1 or more families one time during an assigned month. Individuals are also welcome to participate. Guidelines and more info here.
  • Frozen food is also welcome! We have freezer space available!
  • A temporary housing program is currently being organized for newly arrived families who cannot gain access to either hotel vouchers or shelters.
  • For guidelines about preparing and delivering food, see this page.
  • To find out more or to get involved in any of the above items, please contact sanctuary@orshalomsf.org

An Update on Maria and her family! (11/23)

For several years, Or Shalom has been supporting an immigrant family to settle successfully into their life in San Francisco. There are five family members, two adults, two teens and one child. Or Shalom has helped with identifying an immigration attorney, housing problems and financial stability, and we have provided clothes and toys for the youngest member of the family. Some Or Shalom members have been consistently generous over the years. And, last year, one young member donated several of his toy vehicles for a Christmas present for the child.

Currently, the family has moved into better, less problematic housing. Three members of the family are employed. The immigration process has moved along. And the child is still very much enjoying the cars and trucks! Or Shalom has been a part of this family’s journey in positive ways. Thanks to all who helped them get to this point. They have reached a point where, as a congregation this year, we need only supply clothes and toys for the youngest. May they continue to thrive and prosper.

Activities & Partners

Our work has been guided by trusted partners. Here are our partners and some of the resources and activities their work has engendered:

Truah’s Mikdash work helped shape our conception of the New Jewish Sanctuary Movement. It continues to help provide us with Jewish grounding for the work we do. This guide was especially helpful. 

HIAS (originally Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) works for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom. Some of our sanctuary actions have come through HIAS, and we participate in the yearly HIAS refugee shabbat.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI) offers Interfaith Vigils, which Or Shalom participates in and regularly sponsors; Friends Afuera (pairing volunteers outside detention with detainees, exchanging letters and providing commissary funds); and provides advocacy and other actions opportunities. Through our Friends Afuera work, we have helped release immigrants from detention and supported their legal defense. 

Faith in Action Bay Area, a multi-racial, multi-lingual, intergenerational, and cross-class organization that is led by those most affected by injustice, including immigrants, building shared leadership who take action to uphold the dignity of all people and transform unjust systems. FIABA, led by immigrants, and including several Or Shalom members, recently helped pass a vacancy tax in SF and are working on its effective implementation, as well as state housing protection laws. The family Or Shalom accompanies comes to us through our Faith in Action connections.

Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, partners with the California Domestic Workers Coalition. Or Shalom is currently working with these organizations on the implementation of a groundbreaking ‘portable benefits’ program to provide domestic workers a single account that their multiple employers can all contribute funds to for the sick leave required by the city of San Francisco. Sign this pledge to participate in the new program (and learn more about it).

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784