The Carmen Porco Story: Journey Toward Justice biography provides a compelling and beautifully written account of Rev. Carmen Porco's life journey. It shows how he has used his housing ministry to help lift people out of poverty. Although Rev. Porco went through one of the country's finest seminary schools, he is not a traditional pastor by any means. He pastors to the residents who live in the low-income complexes he manages. They are his housing ministry, not a church.
Reverend 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, he says. And that is exactly what he has done in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. His complexes not only provide a wide range of educational and employment services, residents are hired to run the properties. Scholarships are awarded so tenants can attend college, a learning center for all ages is provided on site and additional resources are offered for low income residents to succeed. As a result, his properties have low-crime and high-graduation rates and nearly one out of every four households has someone in college. His innovative housing ministry has changed the lives of thousands of people in Wisconsin over the past 40-years.
Porco grew up poor in an integrated neighborhood in Weirton, West Virginia and still maintains authentic relationships with many African Americans. His Italian parents started out as bootleggers before opening a barroom where Porco spent his youth interacting with all types of people. When Carmen's best friend was killed in a gang fight that Carmen led, he turned to the church and began preaching at age 15, but he never forgot his roots. Although he started off as a Fundamentalist, by the time he graduated from seminary school he was challenging the traditional church and its commitment to fully serving the needs of the poor. Porco believes that the "True Church" is not in a building but in the streets and homes, where people live daily, and in his case, his housing ministry. This inspiring biography of Madison's most non-traditional pastor is a testament to the power of hope over despair.