The Power of Partnership: MAGDJ Student Tackles Homelessness With Creative Housing Solutions

As affordable housing options dwindle across the country, MA in Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) student John Shepherd is helping create innovative housing solutions to tackle homelessness.

Shepherd partners with Family Promise, an organization based in Colorado Springs that’s on a mission to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence. The nonprofit has been running a short-term shelter program at the Colorado Springs affiliate which, in recent years, has increasingly struggled to connect families with affordable housing in a timely manner. This has led them to a shift their attention from solely shelter care to addressing the affordable housing shortage.

Shepherd, who has been involved with Family Promise in various capacities since January 2014, felt that partnering with the nonprofit in addressing this issue was only natural, due to his longstanding relationship with the organization. “Christians have a fundamental obligation to care for our neighbors that are on the fringes of society,” he says. “The significant growth in the lack of affordable housing in cities across America exposes several elements of systemic injustice in our society…and at some point, the human and social cost produced by the suffering of this population overwhelms the surrounding community and begins a significant overall decline in the quality of life for everyone. This can — and has — even destroyed entire communities all together.”

Shepherd is now involved in Hope Homes, a pilot project at Family Promise that utilizes neglected and underutilized housing resources to lift families from homelessness to home ownership. Through this path to affordable home ownership, Family Promise is now paving a way for local agencies to utilize unique resources to tackle complex community problems. Through his studies in the MAGDJ program, Shepherd has greatly refined his research skills and has been exposed to a variety of successful program design models that provided inspiration for this collaboration with Family Promise. The Hope Homes Program Manual that he developed as a part of his MAGDJ studies provides a road map for implementing the program in Colorado Springs, as well as best practice policies and procedures to ensure success.

As no single organization or person can tackle all the complex issues in our world today, it’s amazing and encouraging to see MAGDJ students like Shepherd strategically partner with local organizations as they work together at the front lines of creative development solutions like Hope Homes.


This post was written by MU Blog contributor Dana Pair, Global Studies|MAGDJ Admin. Assistant at Multnomah University. Dana is also a student in Multnomah’s MAGDJ program.

January 26, 2018 | Outreach