Joe Colletti, PhD

About Joe Colletti, PhD

photograph of Joe Colletti, PhDJoe Colletti, PhD is a social reformer who has modeled his life in the tradition of past and contemporary social reformers. Like them, he has dedicated his life to solving social problems that often stem from poverty, prejudice, and parochialism.

He has worked fervently with many cities and counties in California to end homelessness and has helped develop and implement many local jurisdictional plans and programs that have resulted in thousands of homeless people exiting their state of homelessness. He has also strategized and labored with several jurisdictions in bringing social and economic reinvestment to neighborhoods that have experienced decades of disinvestment and has also worked ardently with non-government and government agencies to end various types of discrimination involving class, disabilities, ethnicity, gender, housing, income, and land use by changing such practices in local jurisdictional ordinances and statutes within their municipal codes.

He is also the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Hub for Urban Initiatives. He is the progenitor of Chefs Center, which is a well-known successful small business kitchen incubator and developed the center with J. Jon Bruno, the retired Episcopal Diocesan Bishop of Los Angeles. Chefs Center of California is a program of the Hub for Urban Initiatives.

He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA and the co-founder of the seminary's Office for Urban Initiatives. Much of his teaching and community and economic development experience focuses on the issues of affordable housing, economic development, fair housing, health and mental health care, homelessness, human trafficking, and substance abuse. He has recently established a Homelessness Solutions Lab that helps students learn and implement evidence-based and best practices to end homelessness among the chronically homeless individuals and families, mentally ill, substance abusers, veterans, and youth.

He has developed and implemented several residential and non-residential social service programs that include housing for persons with mental illness, substance abusers seeking treatment, and victims of domestic violence. Non-residential social service programs include multi-service centers for homeless persons and health clinics for very low, low, and moderate-income persons.

He founded the Hub for Social Reformers which serves as a network that links the accomplishments of past reformers with the accomplishments and efforts of present-day reformers to solve social struggles and the efforts of future reformers who seek to do the same. The Hub is dedicated to preserving and promoting solutions by past social reformers for social ills and injustices. Many reformers remain unknown to, or are forgotten by, those who seek to advance social justice today. Consequently, the teachings, writings, and speeches of these reformers are repeatedly neglected and often do not inform the resolutions that present-day justice seekers seek to encourage.

He established the Society of Urban Monks which is an ecumenical and multi-denominational community of men and women who are involved in encountering, elucidating, and ending social issues and injustices by infusing their Christian faith and privately chosen spiritual practices into their employment, education, social, and/or volunteer efforts and other publicly chosen activities. He writes the liturgy for each Monastic Mass that the Society sponsors each year.

He is an Associate of the Mount Calvary Benedictine Retreat House and Monastery. Much of his teaching and personal experiences also focus on the integration of Christian monastic practices and solving social struggles. He is an enthusiastic follower of the teachings of St. John of the Cross and the experiences of the “Dark Night of the Soul.” He has written papers and teaches courses, seminars and workshops about the integration of the “Dark Night of the Soul”, other monastic practices, and ending social ills and injustices.

Joe and his spouse, Sofia Herrera, PhD, were married in Corleone, Sicily among family and friends. His grandfather immigrated from Corleone and grandmother from Sambuca di Sicilia to Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century (see “The COLLETTIs from Corleone: 100 Years in America”). His father (Rosario Colletti) and mother (Genevra Bizzoni) were born and married in Chicago. Both parents have passed away. His sister Linda and brother Kenneth live in the Chicago area.

He and his spouse, Sofia (who was born in El Salvador), met in Pasadena and continue to live there. They often have families and friends to their home for sacred meals. Such meals are framed by the Christian Divine Offices of Prayer of Vespers and Compline that incorporate biblical prayers, scripture readings, lectio divina, examination of consciousness, vigils, and other spiritual practices. Readings from the writings and speeches of selected social reformers are also incorporated into the combined communal and culinary experience.

 

ASSESSMENTS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND OTHER LOCAL AGENCIES

Recent reports that were written or co-written by Joe Colletti, PhD include

10-Year Strategies to End Homelessness

10-Year Strategies to End Homelessness, which are promoted by the U. S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, are community-based reports that are prepared for local governments that focus on implementing best practices to end homelessness.

Consolidated Planning

Consolidated Plans are required by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from cities who receive HUD funding. These plans establish each jurisdiction’s affordable housing, homeless services, and economic development goals for very low-, low-, and moderate-income households in five (5) year increments.  

Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice

Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice are also required by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from cities who receive HUD funding. These plans establish goals to remove barriers to fair housing choice that may discriminate against protected classes of persons that are indentified in local, state, and national legislation including civil rights and land use and zoning.

Homeless Counts and Surveys

Homeless Counts are also required by HUD from cities who receive Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance funding. Homeless counts provide a point-in-time count of the number of persons who are homeless on a given day within a specific jurisdiction. HUD also requires information concerning certain sub-populations of homeless persons which is the primary purpose of homeless surveys.  

 

Community coalitions founded or co-founded include:

  • Pasadena Partnership to End Homelessness (1991);
  • San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness (1996);
  • Rediscover MacArthur Park Alliance (2001)

 

Grants include awards from the following sources and/or programs:

  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance (several jurisdictions);
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Community Development Block Grant Program (several jurisdictions);
  • Community Service Block Grant Program (several jurisdictions);
  • California Department of Housing and Community Development;
  • Private Foundations

 

COURSES TAUGHT AT FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY INCLUDE:

  • Introduction to Urban Studies
    The purpose of the class is to challenge each student's perspective of the city. Students are exposed to a wide variety of topics, theories, and methods that relate to the field of urban studies. Students interact with professionals who are involved in urban life such as elected officials, law enforcement administrators, social service agency representatives, etc. Such persons are guest lecturers and panelists who along with the instructor integrate social responsibility and religion from various points of view. Perspectives include local politics, business and economics, health and human services, law enforcement, community relations, demographics, and arts and leisure.
  • Homelessness, Congregations, and Community Partnerships
    During the past 20 years in the United States, homelessness has increased instead of decreased in spite of the many efforts made by public and private agencies including local government and congregations. In addition, hundreds of thousands of households are at-risk of becoming homeless. The class closely examines past strategies and suggests new and revised strategies that provide opportunities for communities and faithful leaders to reverse the surge of homelessness.
  • Integration of Spirituality and Urban Ministry
    The course teaches students to integrate faith, spiritual traditions, spiritual practices, ecclesiology, and urban ministry. Such integration has helped ordinary people live extraordinary lives. Students apply and cultivate their faith, learn and practice spiritual virtues such as reflection, meditation, contemplation, compassion, silence, and be involved in urban ministry which helps them understand more broadly and profoundly their call to a deeper spiritual life that includes being agents of change within the communities and congregations in which they live, work, worship, and serve.
  • Church-Based Urban Research
    Students learn that a congregation needs to understand its social and cultural context and its own character and identity in relationship to its surrounding community. Surrounding communities are described in terms of demographics, organizations, present-day activities, historical events, networks, economics, political structures, and how churches embody certain characteristics in order to engage their community. Research tools and resources are explored and implemented by students.