Building affordable housing on church properties and faith based campuses

Posted on March 13, 2021. Filed under: Accessory Dwelling Units, ADUs, Building, Construction, Making Life Easier, OC Charities, Real Estate Stories, Senior Communities | Tags: , , , , |

Today we’re bringing you notes on a feel good panel we recently attended offering unique properties for affordable housing – churches! There were over 100 attendees on the zoom webinar from various faiths, geographic areas, and careers. It was neat to see the path of convergence among so many diverse and brilliant minds. Thank you to our friends over at YIMBY for putting this together ❤

Our Affordable Housing Panelists were:

Jill Shook, Making Housing Happen
Jill assists churches in exploring housing in site. She’s also an author.

Sarah Walker and Alexa Washburn, National Community Renaissance
National Community Renaissance is a non-profit affordable housing developer.

Honorable Rusty Bailey, former mayor of Riverside
Mr Bailey is now the director of Path of Life, a nonprofit with programs for housing, outreach, employment and more. 

Bishop John Taylor 3rd, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
A faith based community of 147 congregations, 40 schools, and 18 major institutions.

Elizabeth Hansburg, YIMBY
Thank you to Elizabeth & YIMBY for bringing this panel together. YIMBY advocates for affordable housing in California.

———

Bishop John Taylor 3rd led with some thoughts of ‘why’ from the perspective of the church. He said “We follow a savior who cares for the least among us. Helping with housing is literally showing love to our neighbor.” Furthermore, from a Christian standpoint, he mentioned one should note plenty of examples in the Bible where Jesus or the disciples expressed gratitude to someone who put them up for the night, or served them a meal.

One of the core values of most churches is to care about their congregation and the community, basically to be a salt and a light to everyone, regardless of their belief system. Obviously some churches have really missed the mark on this, which has caused attendance decline, and possibly some unused space(s) on the property. Churches who have stayed in touch with the daily needs of congregations know that there can be many temporary housing needs to fill. This can include members who are experiencing job loss, abuse, or catastrophe in their lives. 

One way churches can help serve these needs is by offering affordable housing. It helps further a shared mission, helps the community, creates a legacy, and builds bonds for that organization to become a trusted staple in the neighborhood. Heck, if you’re a church in LA…just sharing your parking is a huge blessing :). But to promote Fair and affordable housing – now that’s a big stride toward The Great Commandment.

Here’s a helpful video YIMBY made for the city of Carlsbad, CA that explains why all cities need to plan for affordable housing. One can easily see how churches and city governments can build a bridge to Affordable Housing together by repurposing unused or under utilized space:

Nice concept repurposing church land. But what does it REALLY look like, and what’s the timeline?!

Southern California has a great example in Riverside with Mayor Rusty Bailey – and his ‘Love Your Neighbor Initiative’. Here’s a timeline screenshot that Mr. Bailey discussed for the City of Riverside, CA.

Interested? According to the experts, just 1/2 acre can work. Close to transit is helpful, but not required. Would you like an example to take to your town? We love those, and the city of Riverside in the spirit of ‘teaching a man to fish’ has shared a template for faith-based affordable housing with all of us. Check it out!

National Community Renaissance’s Sarah Walker has been working on an affordable senior housing project called Orchard View Gardens in Buena Park. Sarah also mentioned a development in Santa Ana, and has been bringing various affordable housing projects to fruition in OC. Here’s a site plan Sarah shared of Orchard View Gardens. As you can see the space offers multiple uses for both seniors and the community:

Getting your church started with affordable housing

It is possible to add income to various faith based properties and help with needs in your city – you can get started by contacting any of the experts on the panel, and your city planner. They need you to get the ball rolling. 

We get it…you’re thinking this all sounds really cool… but how can someone reading this blog post who isn’t involved in building, zoning, or church leadership help?? Glad you asked!

5 Ways YOU can promote affordable housing in your community:  

  1. Join YIMBY www.peopleforhousing.org & donate.
  2. Advocate for the city you live in to put in plans to change zoning. 
  3. Particularly, encourage cities to do an ‘overlay zone’ for church properties to allow anyone who wants to develop this overlay zoning ability. This includes adaptive reuse.  
  4. Order & read Jill’s book: Making Housing Happen, 2nd Edition: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models
  5. SHARE this post with a decision maker at a church, or on your social media. Let’s spread more good word.

Want more info? You can watch the full replay here: https://youtu.be/GntTXqYXcfQ?t=22

Have other ideas for affordable housing or how churches can help incorporate extra land to serve the community? Comment below!

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