Cleveland Church Might Lose Religious Designation For Sheltering The Homeless
The City of Cleveland is looking to strip a local church’s religious institution status over its decision to help shelter the city’s homeless population, according to 19 News.
The Denison United Church of Christ received a notice from city officials asking it to update its fire security, and it also demands that the church change its title from a religious institution to a homeless shelter.
The church began partnering with the Metanoia Project, a local nonprofit working to shelter Cleveland’s homeless, a few weeks ago, which spurred the city’s Public Safety Department to send the notice.
Pastor Nozomi Ikuta said she understands needing to update fire security, but the demand that the church change its title to a homeless shelter makes no sense to her.
“You’re asking to update our fire extinguishers, that’s understandable," she told the local news outlet. "But you’re asking us to change the use of our building. We’re a church, we have services here.”
The church has 30 days to appeal the order, 19 News reported, and Ikuta is hoping she can find a way to continue assisting the homeless while maintaining the church’s status as a religious institution.
“If there’s a will, I’m sure there will be a way, we just have to find the will,” she said.