THE CARMEN PORCO STORY: From Scum-lord to Champion of the PoorFor Immediate Release Contact: Charles Taylor
Madison, WI-A new book: The-Carmen-Porco-Story-Journey-Toward-Justice has just been released. This insightful biography, provides a “compelling and beautifully written account of Rev. Carmen Porco’s life journey from the barroom where he grew up, to his highly successful low-income housing ministry.”
When he arrived in Madison, former Mayor Paul Soglin called Carmen the biggest “scum-lord” in the city because the low income properties he came to manage-Packer and Northport Apartments, were disasters. He arrived in the midst of a rent strike with a class action suit brewing. Both complexes were close to 50 percent vacant, and both mortgages were in default. The properties also had a reputation for crime and prostitution. But just like he had done in New York, Maryland, and California, Carmen would prove the mayor and other naysayers wrong.
In fact, Reverend Carmen Porco has transformed how low income public housing should be managed in this country. He believes that public housing complexes must do more for people in need than just offer shelter. “These properties that are benefiting from government subsidies should provide a comprehensive array of social and educational services onsite so that poor people have the resources necessary to improve their lives,” says Carmen. And that is exactly what he has done in Milwaukee and Madison. His housing ministry is so successful that nearly 1 in 4 of his low income households have someone in college.
• Over 50 residents have obtained livable wage jobs right in their housing complexes
• The high school graduation rate in their communities approaches 100%
• 72% of high school graduates go on to higher education
• Their neighborhoods boast some of the lowest crime rates in their cities
Porco has proven that the condition of the poor can be radically improved through local empowerment.
You would think such success would be welcomed and duplicated by HUD, but unfortunately this model of hope and opportunity has largely been ignored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Although Rev. Porco graduated from one of the country’s finest seminary schools, he is not a traditional pastor by any means. In fact he thinks the traditional church has abandoned its commitment to empowering the poor. Porco believes that the “true church” is not in a building but wherever people gather to do good, whether that is in the streets or homes, where people live daily, or in his case, the low-income housing complexes he manages.
His Italian parents started out as bootleggers before opening a barroom where Porco spent his youth interacting with all types of people. And many of those people were African Americans, resulting in him establishing authentic life-long relationships with many Black people. When Carmen’s best friend Bobo Young was killed in a gang fight that Carmen led, his life was forever changed. He turned to the church and began preaching at age 15. Although he started off as a Fundamentalist, by the time he graduated from seminary school he was challenging the traditional church and his religious philosophy was more in line with Father James Groppi whom he marched with in Milwaukee during the Open housing marches of the 1960s. When he graduated from seminary school he began working for the American Baptists in their housing division where overtime he realized that a housing ministry was his calling, instead of pastoring in a traditional church.
The-Carmen-Porco-Story-Journey-Toward-Justice is about the human spirit fighting against the odds. The fact that 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty should concern all of us. We are told daily by our media that we live in the richest country on the planet. Yet, poverty is on the rise and there are few signs that fighting poverty is of national import. That is why local initiatives like Porco’s housing ministry are so important. It may take local innovation to affect national change.
There is something special about Rev. Porco’s housing ministry and the lives it is changing in Madison, Milwaukee and beyond. Why should we care? Perhaps Rev. Porco says it best: "The poor are increasingly becoming us and not them!” For most of his adult life, Rev. Porco has fought for racial justice and equal opportunities for the poor. This inspiring biography of Madison’s most non-traditional pastor is testament to the power of hope over despair.
About the Author
Dr. Charles Taylor is the author of six non-fiction books, a novel: Lakeside University Cover-up, a Children’s Musical Play, and writer/producer of the award winning documentary Decade of Discontent. A retired professor, Chuck also produced the Journey of Hope film series on Rev. Porco’s housing ministry.
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P.S. To schedule an interview with the author (Charles Taylor) and/or Rev. Carmen Porco, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-206-9056. The book is available at: https://bit.ly/2XpdXcw and Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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