“THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME” HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM MAKING HOUSING & COMMUNITY HAPPEN (MHCH)

17 Dec

nativity“It’s a universal story. It concerns a man and his pregnant wife. After a long journey they arrive at last at the man’s hometown, only to find there’s no place to lay their heads. Tired and discouraged, they come at last to a crowded inn and there’s no room so they ask if they can find shelter in the stable. Thus, was the prince of peace born.”

Rick Cole, former mayor of Pasadena and a member of MHCH, shared these words during our Dec 4th online gathering “There’s no place like home.” He went on to say,

“MHCH is all about making sure that everyone has a place they can afford, a place to call home. Our successes are making a large difference in the lives of our neighbors. Support us so we can find room in our community for all who need it.” (To donate, click here.)

During our online celebration Cynthia Kirby shared her story about living for 10 years on the street and how housing and the love of Christ changed her life. Members of our six committees told why they were moved to give their time and hearts to housing justice: Congregational Land Committee (CLC), Safe Parking, Affordable/Supportive Advocates (ASHA), Community Land Trust (CLT), Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and the North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative.  At a time of growing racial inequities, we thank God for the diversity on our teams and among the 23 churches in our network.  We heard religious and community leaders give testimonials about why they support MHCH.  We heard Elvis sing our theme song “There’s no place like home” and “Tramp on the Street” a moving music video by John York  (of the Byrds) about our homeless neighbors. Nearly two hundred people from across the nation and across the political spectrum joined together, united by the ancient biblical vision that “everyone will live under their own vine and fig tree, at peace and unafraid” (Micah 4:4).

Like the birth of Jesus, our celebration was all about hope in a time of darkness. About churches and our city coming together as a beloved community. About seeing Pasadena’s homeless count decline 54% in the last decade while the count in most of LA County increased. We celebrate hope because this fall the Pasadena City Council approved 112 units of affordable housing, right smack in the heart of our city, next to City hall, with 10% of these units for homeless seniors! We celebrate because 902 affordable housing units are in our city’s pipeline. We celebrate because 34 churches are interested in partnering with our Congregational land team; this could produce 1,000s of affordable units.  (112 people showed up at a city workshop to support a zone change to make this possible!)

None of this would have happened without advocacy, careful research and organizing. That’s why at our celebration we honored Allison Henry, organizer for Everyone In, along with our church liaison coordinator Bert Newton and two City Council members who are champions of affordable housing.

mcaustinMargaret McAustin, a City Council woman whom we honored for championing Marv’s Place, which provides homes for 19 formerly unhoused families, praised MHCH: “As an organization, MHCH has grown so much. It has become an organization that researches and studies best practices that help inform city policies on affordable housing. That’s how affordable housing becomes more a part of our city in everything that we do.”


kennedyJohn Kennedy,
 another Council member we honored, is counting on us to support his bold vision: to see 1,000 units of affordable housing built in the next three years. He says: “I want to see the city do more than just adopt a policy directive to house low, very low and extremely low income residents. These categories are the hardest to produce. But if the city partners with developers to produce this housing, we as a community can get this done.”

molinaAt the celebration Anne Marie Molina, mother of five and chair of our Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Committee, shared her moving story about being a homeless teenager and how her life was transformed when she was sheltered by the Salvation Army. She has become a proud mother, banker and advocate for affordable housing. She says: “Homelessness is not the result of drug use or any other single cause. It’s a kaleidoscope of reasons that people become homeless. MHCH understands that so well. Their work for housing justice makes our whole community better. Everyone should support their work.”

Peter Havholm, a retired English professor, helps our volunteers write their housing stories of hope. Andre White also told his story about leaving his job as a trader on Wall Street to return to Hilton Head Island to help his African American community save their land from large resorts.

During this holiday season we want to wish you all a blessed time, despite the COVID crisis and all its challenges. As we celebrate a child who was born in stable, please remember those who are without a home or housing insecure and consider how you can hope. There is much we can do!

If you are in the Pasadena area, we have openings in our ASHA, ADU and CLT teams. Please consider encouraging your church or faith community to become part of our network of congregations. You can also take part in a campaign or make a recurring donation.

When we work together, we can create what Dr. King called the “beloved community” where there is room for everyone!

With hope and joy,

Jill and Anthony

jill and anthony

“No Place Like Home” Celebration Videos

Join us Tues. Dec.15 at 6 pm to let the city know that churches should be allowed build affordable housing on their property

7 Dec

The City of Pasadena Planning & Community Development Department will hold a virtual community meeting to define regulations related to permanent housing on properties owned by churches and other faith-based organizations.

Please join us for a live webinar on Tuesday, December 15 at 6:00 PM where city staff will present background information and proposed options for housing on properties owned by churches and faith-based organizations, as well as answer questions from participants.

Please visit the city website to learn more:

www.cityofpasadena.net/planning/planning-division/community-planning/religious-facility-housing/

Or download this notice:  Notice_Email_Church Housing Webinar

All you need to do is log on to this link at 6 pm and state in the chat who you are, and say:

“I think it’s a great idea to allow churches and religious institutions to build affordable housing on their underutilized land.”

If you want to say more, talking points are below and you can cut and paste a comment that most speaks to you.

MHCH is pleased that the City will consider this zoning change (called an “overlay zone”) which  would allow churches to have affordable housing on their underutilized land. This could lead to over 1,000 units of affordable housing spread throughout the city. Seventeen churches in Pasadena have indicated interest in this and one church now has a proposal for 52 affordable units! To learn more about the overzone zone making this possible, download this fact sheet:

Overlay Zone Fact Sheet 2020.09.25

Talking points for Overlay Zone to allow congregations to build affordable housing on their underutilized land.

 #1: We are asking the City Council to support an overlay zone because the time to address the need for affordable housing is now, more than ever. And we have religious organizations throughout the City eager to be partners in making this happen.

 Simply put, an overlay will save significant time, significant money, and provide certainty for both the religious organizations willing to provide affordable housing and the communities where that housing will be located.

By supporting an overlay zone that will ensure the majority of housing that will be developed is affordable, the City can ensure that projects are feasible and done in a way that minimizes the need for City or other public money to make affordable housing happen.

An overly zone is needed and superior to other suggestions of incorporating such zoning to Specific Plan update of Public/ Semi-Public zoning designation so because these planning processes would not adequately address the unique needs of congregations.

#2: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide new land that would not otherwise be available for affordable housing. This is a significant opportunity when so few sites exist. Using church land is a huge opportunity for affordable housing developers to have feasible and successful projects. When they work with churches, developers don’t have to buy land in advance or carry the insurance cost. They can be more confident of community support since they have the support of a church which is part of a neighborhood. Yet, if churches wish to supply affordable housing, the cost and time needed to create a zoning change on a case-by-case basis as opposed to an overlay zone, can be significantly lowered if there such a policy is in place. Plus, it makes the deal attractive to a more experienced developer.

#3:  An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide an opportunity for the city to significantly reach affordable housing production goals and further its goal of being a diverse community. Housing Element (2014-2021) vision:

 “All Pasadena residents have an equal right to live in decent, safe and affordable housing in a suitable living environment for the long-term well-being and stability of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and their community. The housing vision for Pasadena is to maintain a socially and economically diverse community of homeowners and renters who are afforded this right.” 

#4: An overlay zone that enables churches to build affordable housing provides an opportunity for churches to participate in addressing the homeless and housing crisis.  From the poll we conducted, 17 churches are interested in having affordable housing on their land, with the potential of 1,177 units if a Congregational Land Overlay Zone is passed. 95% of churches would support a Congregational Land Overlay Zone to help other churches build housing on their land. Additionally, 19 churches (nearly half of all respondents) would allow SAFE parking on their church’s parking lots. And 11 churches were open to having a FEMA trailer on their property. Twelve churches already own approximately 58 rental units. Only six of them rent at market rate.

#5: An overlay zone that would allow community minded congregations that are already willing and mission-driven to become partners with the city to meet a very real need make good sense.  This also allows religious institutions to practice their faith in a very tangible way. Community based organizations would do this sensitively and respectfully out of love for their neighbors. They will live with this for the long term, so design in keeping with the neighborhood and a commitment to good relationships with neighbors will go a long way in addressing NIMBYISM.

#6: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will allows for both  flexibility and certainly enabling sensitive solutions and designs for each site. Certain development standards will need to be addressed to provide enough flexibility for projects to be feasible. An overlay zone allows for the kind of certainly with flexibility to balance sensitivity to the project and the adjacent neighborhood in regard to appropriate densities and parking requirements to enhance the character of the neighborhood.

#7: An overlay zone for churches to build affordable housing minimized the money, risk and time for affordable housing developers. They cannot invest a great amount of time, money and risk into rezoning processes, and they will not take this time when there are other, simpler opportunities available in other cities.

#8: Because churches are throughout the city an overlay zone would spread affordable housing development through the city providing geographic equity and opportunity and investment in neighborhoods. The city would be wise to take advantage of this since so few sites exist especially in all areas of the city.  In Pasadena, for example, we estimate that there is capacity to build approximately 5,000 units of affordable housing on excess congregational land (the number of affordable units needed with the new RHNA numbers for the 2021-2028 Housing Element cycle). We know that not all congregations will do this, but the potential is significant. An overlay zone would ensure that any housing be built would be within city guidelines appropriate for each community. We must recognizing the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation, and base of support in the community.  An overlay zone would help the city to go a long way toward meeting an urgent need.

#9:: Church attendance is declining, Gallop says that 69% of U.S. adults were members of a church in 1998-2000, compared with 52% in 2016-2018. This is particularly the case within land-rich older and mainline churches. Some churches are looking to off-load over-sized parking lots, high-maintenance buildings, and extra space. With shrinking congregations, many churches are unable to keep up. Affordable housing on church land has enabled churches to bless their communities, stay within mission, and help to prevent displacement due to the cost of housing, the very thing that is hurting many Pasadena churches.  Should a church feel called to consider affordable housing on their property, an overlay zone enabling churches desiring to have affordable housing on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis.

#10: Churches have a successful track record of partnering with affordable housing developers to provide affordable dwellings on their excess land. Some churches have already put parking lots, buildings constructed for congregations much larger than those of today, and other space on their properties to higher and better use by including affordable housing. In partnership with National Core (which developed Marv’s place in Pasadena, the UMC church in Santa Ana will be providing 95 units, half for families and half for those experiencing homelessness. Churches are doing this because they are called to serve the community and particularly its most vulnerable residents. Yet at the same time, they are also often able to generate a modest level of economic benefit that stabilizes these often struggling, but longstanding and critical institutions of our social fabric. In some cases, affordable housing developers have even provided additional parking for a church or developed other community serving uses on a site. Adopting an overlay zone that would enable churches, feeling so lead, to provide affordable housing on their property. Such a policy would make the process more straightforward, facilitate high quality partnerships with affordable housing developers to create much-needed affordable housing.

#11: Rezoning church land is one way that the city can make right with past sins of racial inequities that served to displace people of color.  With Urban renewal, a thriving African American neighborhood where Parsons now sits was displaced, moving them away from the city center, which today is zoned for 90 units per acre. They were not given the opportunity to capture the added value of the land from up-zoning, but instead encouraged to leave. Thriving Black communities and businesses on N. Fair Oaks were also displaced because of urban renewal. The 210 Freeway pushed out even more people of color. Too many families were not sufficiently remunerated for their property to again buy in Pasadena.  And if they wanted to, banks often would not provide them loans and they often were barred from obtaining private mortgage insurance. Due to significant displacement, one church has 8 members left. Several have closed. As one pastor put it, their church building is in Pasadena, but no one from their congregation can afford to live here anymore. Rezoning church land to allow for affordable housing would serve to prevent more displacement and correct past sins.  Some Black churches are eager to provide affordable housing on their underutilized land, please allow them to do so.

#12: Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and have dedicated themselves to feeding the homeless, tutoring children, raising the City’s youth, keeping people in their homes. This history of investment in the community and neighbors creates a perfect marriage with new neighbors living in affordable housing on their property.

#13:   Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and but many today are on the ropes because of long term trends, COVID-19 and today some need ways to generate income and reduce expenses to be able to continue in their mission. Affordable housing on their property can do just that.

#14:  An Overlay Zone is a locally-focused solution that will do a better job than proposed state legislation. A local solution designed by the community enables us to craft the kind of creative neighborhood-based housing solutions that enhance the design, beauty and character of our city.

Bert Newton shares his story as a housing justice advocate

24 Nov

bert headshotMy father was a pastor with small churches and small salaries. He was also a missionary, and when I was 8 years old, we lived in the country of Jordan. We lived next to a hillside where people lived in dire poverty, in makeshift shacks.

Later, in Tennessee, right after desegregation in the mid 70’s, I saw the racialization of poverty in the U.S. I remember at school hearing white kids asking black kids what they were getting for Christmas, and the black kids having to explain that they weren’t getting anything because their parents could buy them anything.

In my home the Jesus story was revered, so I took it seriously and committed by life to Christ when I was seven. I knew that Jesus cared about poverty and wealth. I read that Jesus said, “blessed are you who are poor…but woe to you who are rich.” And he laid down his life for all people. I understood all that as a child.

Later, my studies in seminary led me to understand Jesus as a radical peasant leader of a movement for justice.

The gospel gave me hope, but looking around at a world filled with injustice I often felt hopeless.

Then, in 2000, I found this very diverse group of people organizing for affordable housing in Pasadena. They were advocating something called an “inclusionary housing ordinance” that would compel housing developers to set aside a portion of the units as affordable to moderate, low, and very low-income households.

I joined the group.

That group evolved into Making Housing and Community Happen.

We won that first campaign.

But even more than winning, my hope was lifted by seeing people come together to work for justice, demonstrating love and compassion for their neighbors.

We have continued winning victories, and that gives me hope too. In 2018 we won a campaign to build 69 units of permanent supportive housing for seniors experiencing homelessness. In 2019 we won an even stronger inclusionary ordinance.

Then we received a grant that funds my current position, and now I’m building a network through local faith congregations, deepening our roots in the community and building the power we need to transform our city.

I get to use my training in the Jesus story, training from my childhood and from seminary, to work with churches.

I find that most churches already care about their neighbors and are doing things about it. Several churches in Pasadena have food and/or shelter programs. One church provides nine units of affordable housing, another provides around a quarter of a million dollars in rental assistance to families every year!!

I get to talk with them about how their work is the work of the Gospel and how this work now gives them the moral authority to speak for justice. Through this work we are building community and transforming our city, so that one day we will realize the vision of the prophet Micah where everyone has a home to live in with no one to make them afraid!

Click here to watch Bert tell his housing justice story.

How to support affordable senior housing at the Pasadena Civic Center

18 Oct

We have wonderful news! Thanks in part to advocates like us, the City Council will be deciding to enter into negotiations with National Core’s senior affordable housing proposal. See the beautiful renderings below of 112 affordable senior housing units with 10% for homeless seniors with the potential of more. 

We invite you to email Pasadena City Council for vote for this important decision anytime between now and two hours before the City Council Agenda Monday:  Oct. 19th. If you wish to submit a comment that will be read outload, please do so at 2:00 pm on Monday.  It’s number 18 on the agenda. See instructions below on how to submit a letter or comments.  Consider this as a letter of encouragement and thanks: 

Dear Mayor and City Council members,

My name is ________. [Say something about yourself, like, “I’m a retired teacher and I currently attend All Saints Church or I’ve lived in East Pasadena for the last ten years.”] I care deeply about ending homelessness and poverty in our city because____________________________________.

That’s why I’m pleased that the City Council has decided to have affordable housing in the Civic Center near to City Hall and is currently considering a proposal for 112 units of affordable housing for seniors, with at least 10% set aside for those experiencing homelessness. Please approve this proposal so that we can have much needed affordable housing in the heart of our City. Affordable housing helps prevent our elderly neighbors from falling into homelessness. Setting aside 10% of the unites for unhoused seniors will bring much needed relief.  According to the latest homeless count, 30% of those experiencing homelessness in our city are over 55 years old. 

Thanks for all you’ve done to help reduce our homeless count by 22% in the last two years, and over half in the last ten years. I’m proud of our city for taking effective action to reduce homelessness and poverty.

After you’ve personalized this letter and added your own thoughts, please send it to the City Council in one of the following ways. (Scroll down or see attachment for more details about the National Core proposal.)

Members of the public may submit comments of any length up to two hours prior to the start of the meeting, at the following email address:  

correspondence@cityofpasadena.net

Please be aware that, while these comments will be provided to the members of the body and will become part of the meeting record, they will not be read aloud. Any comment submitted in this fashion will be forwarded to the legislative body prior to the start of the meeting.

During the meeting, members of the public may submit up to 200 words regarding items on the agenda, at the following webpage:

www.cityofpasadena.net/city-clerk/public-comment

If you wish your comments to be read aloud during the meeting, please indicate so on the form. If you submit more than one form, only the first one received will be read aloud.  The City reserves the right to summarize comments if necessary for the orderly and timely flow of the meeting. All comments in their entirety will become part of the meeting record and will be forwarded to the legislative body.

Details on the project can be found at:  http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/2020%20Agendas/Oct_19_20/AR%2026.pdf

See below or Click here for Pasadena Civic Center National Core Proposal Fact Sheet Oct 2020 Printer Friendly-1 (1).

Come learn how churches can build affordable housing on their land… and what it takes to make it happen in Pasadena.

11 Oct

Blessed Place affordalbe housing on church land

Register in advance for our educational meeting on Sat.  Nov. 21 at 10 am and learn how churches can build affordable housing on their underutilized land, and what it takes to make it happen:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwudemprToiGtGmhH1Xb0FNwsNTC6odC2mu

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

*******

Any questions, contact Jill Shook,  jill@makinghousinghappen.org  or 626-675-1315   view our website: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/congregational-land

Ballot Propositions: Find out where MHCH stands

9 Oct

 

YES on Prop 15: Requires only commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value and dedicates revenue for colleges and schools in lower income areas.

NO on Prop 19: Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules, with extra tax revenue going mostly to Fire Protection Fund.

YES on Prop 21: Expands local governments’ power to allow local rent control.

YES on Measure J: Sets aside 10% of LA County budget for alternatives to incarceration, including social services and affordable housing.

YES on Measures O and P which provide funding for schools and city services in Pasadena. See https://www.pusd.us/MeasureO  and https://www.cityofpasadena.net/measurep/

Scroll down for faith-based perspectives on other ballot propositions.

******************************

Please save these dates and join us online for the  “There’s No Place Like Home” celebration of MHCH with music, stories and presentations.  Dec. 4, 7:00 pm, Dec 5 4:00, and Dec 6 4:00 pm.To register go to https://makinghousinghappen.org/celebration

Also please continue to donate to our work and consider making recurring donations at http://makinghousinghappen.org/donate 

*********************************

For faith-based perspectives on propositions, see the CA Church IMPACT blog: http://www.churchimpact.org/impact-blog. and https://www.fclca.org/ (Quaker)

Church IMPACT

Quaker

Prop 14:

YES

NO

Prop 15:

YES

YES

Prop 16:

YES

YES

Prop 17:

YES

YES

Prop18:

YES

YES

Prop 19:

YES

NO

Prop 20:

NO

NO

Prop  21:

YES

YES

Prop 22:

YES

NO

Prop  23:

YES

NO

Prop 24:

NO

NO

Prop 25:

NO

YES

Relive “There’s No Place Like Home”: Our Online Celebration of MHCH

6 Oct

theres no place like home

 

Despite COVID, Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH) has been thriving and has had significant successes. This year on Dec. 4-6 MHCH celebrated its annual event “There’s No Place Like Home” online with music, stories and presentations about our housing justice work. Nearly 200 people showed up for these events–people of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds, united by a common concern for ending homelessness and housing insecurity. You can see the videos of each night, edited by our talented assistant Morgan Tucker:

FRIDAY: “Affordable/Supportive Housing and Building Affordable Housing on Congregational Land.”  Emcee, Anthony Manousos. https://youtu.be/Ee5uzGRfidU

SATURDAY: “Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Community Land Trust (CLT).” Emcee, Bert Newton. https://youtu.be/uaJJBqej8GM

SUNDAY: “Safe Parking and North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative.” Emcee, Jill Shook.  https://youtu.be/Oa64pEbE14g

You can also see individual video presentations by scrolling down.

We’re seeking to raise $25,000 to support our housing justice work in 2021, and we’re now three quarters of the way to our goal. Please consider making a contribution, especially on a recurring basis. That’s what provides our organization with financial stability. 

Click here to donate

Links to individual videos:

FRIDAY DEC 4 
“There’s No Place Like Home”(Animation with music by Elvis) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4D1wm3BK3o
Affordable/Supportive Housing Advocates (ASHA) Team https://youtu.be/Db5JPGx3nzM
Mythbuster on Affordable Housing – Teresa Eilers https://youtu.be/jjmUeQUfUkQ
Congregational Land Subcommittee https://youtu.be/Qhr4K49Obgo
Andre White’s Housing Story/Spoken Word “Breathe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw1z-xQ9lno
Areta Crowell (Pasadena Presbyterian Church) https://youtu.be/l3f61Xs-TQc
Bert Newton’s Housing Story https://youtu.be/-6tlvxaK_CE
Award – Council member Margaret McAustin https://youtu.be/pJSwj36xGFM
Music Video by John York and Barry McGuire – “California Dreamin’ “/”Tramp on the Street” https://youtu.be/A31LHKf2Z2Y
Heather Rim
SATURDAY DEC 5
There’s No Place Like Home (Animation) – Opening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4D1wm3BK3o
ADU Video https://youtu.be/amgGRfLdK-Y
Anne Marie’s Housing Story https://youtu.be/E0xjTey3TLk
Brita Pinkston Video https://youtu.be/qXg2BbXEtHQ
Community Land Trust (CLT) Subcommittee https://youtu.be/PQiExXp_z_I
John Deron Johnson Video https://youtu.be/jjwjGRfyRD4
Award – John Kennedy https://youtu.be/8bfxxq3pHv0
Award – Allison Henry https://youtu.be/ej8q40mf1h8
Music Video John York and Barry McGuire- “Day for a Daydream”/”One Step from Homeless” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPn5u16IkHw
Heather Rim https://youtu.be/YaNXpThglME
SUNDAY DEC 6
There’s No Place Like Home (Animation) – Opening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4D1wm3BK3o
Safe Parking Video https://youtu.be/ykBu9e8sh1M
Methodist UMC https://youtu.be/NDlpVSLC1iw
North Fair Oaks – Thanks, David! https://youtu.be/InYCC-wMV-o
Gilbert Walton Video https://youtu.be/dn0kJBZaV0E
Music Video # 3 – Bob Dylan/Tramp on the Street https://youtu.be/9KvWa71oRj4
Cynthia Kirby Housing Story https://youtu.be/Bj0q5cUD51E
Heather Rim https://youtu.be/YaNXpThglME

Click here to donate

Cynthia Kirby shares her moving story about the transforming power of affordable housing and how advocacy makes a difference

3 Oct

a cynthia kirbyMy name is Cynthia Kirby, I am 49 years old, a wife, and a mother to my amazingly strong 19-year-old daughter.

I was placed on permanent disability at age 28 and  went from making 60K a year to less than $1000 per month.

The strain of my disability ended my first marriage. My parents provided some support until I wound up in an abusive relationship that brought  with it criminal elements  and crystal meth.

I spent the next decade in and out of homelessness, struggling with my addiction and domestic violence. I slept in my car, stayed in abandoned houses, or moved from motel to motel. The night I turned 40 I spent in a grocery store parking lot, afraid to fall asleep.

I had just met my current husband, relapsed after 8 years in recovery. I’d also been in recovery, but I had struggled with the program’s spiritual emphasis. I was curious about how he’d come to believe and he shared the Word of God with me.

But life seemed hopeless, so I leveled an ultimatum at whatever  higher power might exist: It had one year to convince me to continue living.

In that year, even though my mom died, my husband was incarcerated, and I waited for him desperately alone on the streets of Pasadena, God wooed me, building the foundation of my relationship with Him. At the one-year mark, my husband was released from jail and I took it as a sign that God listened.

We wanted to get married and find housing, but we had few options on disability income. God used connections we had made on

the street and in recovery to help us achieve stability. My husband was accepted into Union Station Homeless Services’ adult center. Three months later, we were married and I was invited into the program. We received a housing voucher, which included permanent supportive services—people helping us  to rebuild our lives— though it took nearly a year to find an apartment because of the affordable housing crisis.

Today, I’m a member of Union Station’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel, work part-time at my church, First Baptist Church Pasadena, and am the director of our children’s choir. I have more than 8 years of sobriety, am a student at PCC and have nearly a 4.0 GPA! Gratitude for a life I never thought I would have and my amazingly intimate relationship with  God carry me.

When I heard about Jill Shook and her work in Pasadena, I attended a Housing Justice workshop, became a member of  Making Housing and Community Happen, and served as their liaison with my church. It has been a blessing to advocate for permanent housing solutions, to be a part of direct democracy, to realize that my voice is powerful.Working with Jill, I’ve been to City Counsel Meetings, had one-on-one meetings with Councilmembers, spoken with the Mayor—and who am I? Can I do this? I’m a citizen. and a community member, and my voice matters.The advocacy, prayer vigils and sleep-outs by Heritage Square led to its approval, and now it’s being built; the work they do works.

Everyone should support MHCH’s pioneering work to equip faith communities to  be the church, be the hands that feed. Please, join us in building a better community.

To hear her story on Youtube, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj0q5cUD51E 

[With thanks to Peter Havholm, who interviewed Cynthia Kirby and helped her to shape her story. Thanks also to Morgan Tucker, who produced this video.]

Allow Churches to Build Affordable Housing on Church Land: Talking Points

3 Oct

On October 5, the Pasadena City Council will consider zoning changes (called an “overlay zone”) which  would allow churches to affordable housing on their excess land (#18). This could lead to over 1,000 units of affordable housing spread throughout the city. Seventeen churches in Pasadena have indicated interest in this and one church now has a proposal for 50 affordable units!

Please use the sample letter below this picture to write to the City Council regarding this zoning change.

To learn more, check out this Overlay Zone Fact Sheet 2020.09.25 (5)

Sample letter to send to the City Council for agenda items #16 and #18.  This letter must be submitted any time between now and 2 hours prior to the Monday, 2pm City Council Meeting (Oct 5th) to: correspondence@cityofpasadena.net  

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council members,

My name is ________________ and I am a member of _______________________________.  (your church, a club, a neighborhood association, etc..)

We desperately need more affordable housing in Pasadena! Use one of the of the following as a prompt to create your own personal one-two sentence story:

  • Our church used to be full of Pasadena residents, but many of them have had to move away because housing costs are so high!
  • My business cannot pay enough to cover my employee housing cost.
  • My aunt ??? left our city to due to the cost of housing and she baby sat for me creating a real hardship for us.
  • I had to take on extra work to cover the cost of housing and leaving less time for my family or church.

Continue with the following:

There are two major opportunities for affordable housing:

  1. Affordable housing on the Water and Power site in the civic center.
  2. Affordable housing on church land.

The Water and Power site has been sitting vacant for many, many years and is certainly “surplus” land which the law prioritizes for affordable housing. Furthermore, the need for this housing is great! Please do all that you can to speed this process along!

Churches across Pasadena are stepping up to offer their land for affordable housing, but they need the zoning to be changed to let them do that! This zoning change will speed up the process of building the housing we need and will make the process considerably less expensive, which makes affordable housing dollars stretch further so that more can be built. Please advise the Planning Commission to work with the Planning Department to make the necessary zoning change.

Thank you for your service to our community!

With your name here.

More talking points for Overlay Zone to allow congregation to build affordable housing on their excess land.

 #1: We are asking the City Council to support an overlay zone because the time to address the need for affordable housing is now, more than ever. And we have religious organizations throughout the City eager to be partners in making this happen.

 Simply put, an overlay will save significant time, significant money, and provide certainty for both the religious organizations willing to provide affordable housing and the communities where that housing will be located.

By supporting an overlay zone that will ensure the majority of housing that will be developed is affordable, the City can ensure that projects are feasible and done in a way that minimizes the need for City or other public money to make affordable housing happen.

An overly zone is needed and superior to other suggestions of incorporating such zoning to Specific Plan update of Public/ Semi-Public zoning designation so because these planning processes would not adequately address the unique needs of congregations.

#2: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide new land that would not otherwise be available for affordable housing. This is a significant opportunity when so few sites exist. Using church land is a huge opportunity for affordable housing developers to have feasible and successful projects. When they work with churches, developers don’t have to buy land in advance or carry the insurance cost. They can be more confident of community support since they have the support of a church which is part of a neighborhood. Yet, if churches wish to supply affordable housing, the cost and time needed to create a zoning change on a case-by-case basis as opposed to an overlay zone, can be significantly lowered if there such a policy is in place. Plus, it makes the deal attractive to a more experienced developer.

#3:  An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide an opportunity for the city to significantly reach affordable housing production goals and further its goal of being a diverse community. Housing Element (2014-2021) vision:

 “All Pasadena residents have an equalright to live in decent, safe and affordable housing in a suitable living environment for the long-term well-being and stability of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and their community. The housing vision for Pasadena is to maintain a socially and economically diverse community of homeowners and renters who are afforded this right.” 

#4: An overlay zone that enables churches to build affordable housing provides an opportunity for churches to participate in addressing the homeless and housing crisis.  From the poll we conducted, 17 churches are interested in having affordable housing on their land, with the potential of 1,177 units if a Congregational Land Overlay Zone is passed. 95% of churches would support a Congregational Land Overlay Zone to help other churches build housing on their land. Additionally, 19 churches (nearly half of all respondents) would allow SAFE parking on their church’s parking lots. And 11 churches were open to having a FEMA trailer on their property. Twelve churches already own approximately 58 rental units. Only six of them rent at market rate.

#5: An overlay zone that would allow community minded congregations that are already willing and mission-driven to become partners with the city to meet a very real need make good sense.  This also allows religious institutions to practice their faith in a very tangible way. Community based organizations would do this sensitively and respectfully out of love for their neighbors. They will live with this for the long term, so design in keeping with the neighborhood and a commitment to good relationships with neighbors will go a long way in addressing NIMBYISM. 

#6: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will allows for both  flexibility and certainly enabling sensitive solutions and designs for each site. Certain development standards will need to be addressed to provide enough flexibility for projects to be feasible. An overlay zone allows for the kind of certainly with flexibility to balance sensitivity to the project and the adjacent neighborhood in regard to appropriate densities and parking requirements to enhance the character of the neighborhood.

#7: An overlay zone for churches to build affordable housing minimized the money, risk and time for affordable housing developers. They cannot invest a great amount of time, money and risk into rezoning processes, and they will not take this time when there are other, simpler opportunities available in other cities.

#8: Because churches are throughout the city an overlay zone would spread affordable housing development through the city providing geographic equity and opportunity and investment in neighborhoods. The city would be wise to take advantage of this since so few sites exist especially in all areas of the city.  In Pasadena, for example, we estimate that there is capacity to build approximately 5,000 units of affordable housing on excess congregational land (the number of affordable units needed with the new RHNA numbers for the 2021-2028 Housing Element cycle). We know that not all congregations will do this, but the potential is significant. An overlay zone would ensure that any housing be built would be within city guidelines appropriate for each community. We must recognizing the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation, and base of support in the community.  An overlay zone would help the city to go a long way toward meeting an urgent need.

#9::Church attendance is declining, Gallop says that 69% of U.S. adults were members of a church in 1998-2000, compared with 52% in 2016-2018. This is particularly the case within land-rich older and mainline churches. Some churches are looking to off-load over-sized parking lots, high-maintenance buildings, and extra space. With shrinking congregations, many churches are unable to keep up. Affordable housing on church land has enabled churches to bless their communities, stay within mission, and help to prevent displacement due to the cost of housing, the very thing that is hurting many Pasadena churches.  Should a church feel called to consider affordable housing on their property, an overlay zone enabling churches desiring to have affordable housing on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis.

#10: Churches have a successful track record of partnering with affordable housing developers to provide affordable dwellings on their excess land. Some churches have already put parking lots, buildings constructed for congregations much larger than those of today, and other space on their properties to higher and better use by including affordable housing. In partnership with National Core (which developed Marv’s place in Pasadena, the UMC church in Santa Ana will be providing 95 units, half for families and half for those experiencing homelessness. Churches are doing this because they are called to serve the community and particularly its most vulnerable residents. Yet at the same time, they are also often able to generate a modest level of economic benefit that stabilizes these often struggling, but longstanding and critical institutions of our social fabric. In some cases, affordable housing developers have even provided additional parking for a church or developed other community serving uses on a site. Adopting an overlay zone that would enable churches, feeling so lead, to provide affordable housing on their property. Such a policy would make the process more straightforward, facilitate high quality partnerships with affordable housing developers to create much-needed affordable housing.

#11: Rezoning church land is one way that the city can make right with past sins of racial inequities that served to displace people of color.  With Urban renewal, a thriving African American neighborhood where Parsons now sits was displaced, moving them away from the city center, which today is zoned for 90 units per acre. They were not given the opportunity to capture the added value of the land from up-zoning, but instead encouraged to leave. Thriving Black communities and businesses on N. Fair Oaks were also displaced because of urban renewal. The 210 Freeway pushed out even more people of color. Too many families were not sufficiently remunerated for their property to again buy in Pasadena.  And if they wanted to, banks often would not provide them loans and they often were barred from obtaining private mortgage insurance. Due to significant displacement, one church has 8 members left. Several have closed. As one pastor put it, their church building is in Pasadena, but no one from their congregation can afford to live here anymore. Rezoning church land to allow for affordable housing would serve to prevent more displacement and correct past sins.  Some Black churches are eager to provide affordable housing on their underutilized land, please allow them to do so.

#12: Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and have dedicated themselves to feeding the homeless, tutoring children, raising the City’s youth, keeping people in their homes. This history of investment in the community and neighbors creates a perfect marriage with new neighbors living in affordable housing on their property.

#13:   Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and but many today are on the ropes because of long term trends, COVID-19 and today some need ways to generate income and reduce expenses to be able to continue in their mission. Affordable housing on their property can do just that.

#14:  An Overlay Zone is a locally-focused solution that will do a better job than proposed state legislation. A local solution designed by the community enables us to craft the kind of creative neighborhood-based housing solutions that enhance the design, beauty and character of our city.

Let the Pasadena City Council know that you support affordable housing at the Civic Center and on church land

2 Oct

             

The Pasadena City Council will be voting on two important items on Monday, October 5th, and your voice can make a difference. 

First, they will be voting on whether to approve using the Civic Center for affordable housing by declaring the site surplus land (#16). Proposals have already been submitted that would produce 100 units for families and other low-income folks, including those experiencing homelessness.Talking points for your letter can be found at this link: https://makinghousinghappen.net/2020/09/30/talking-points-for-affordable-housing-at-the-civic-center/

Second, they will consider zoning changes (called an “overlay zone”) which  would allow churches to affordable housing on their excess land (#18). This could lead to over 1,000 units of affordable housing spread throughout the city. Seventeen churches in Pasadena have indicated interest in this and one church now has a proposal for 50 affordable units! To learn more about this proposal, we invite you to join us for an educational session tomorrow, Oct. 3, Sat at 10am, if you are unable to join us this Sat, we will be offering this same session for the next three Saturdays. See attached flyer with the live link for registering for the Zoom meeting or here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArcOqhrDkrHNbj7O3lNyYSX7w73hWWoDMt

Sample letter to send to the City Council for agenda items #16 and #18.  This letter must be submitted any time between now and 2 hours prior to the Monday, 2pm City Council Meeting (Oct 5th) to: correspondence@cityofpasadena.net  

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council members,

My name is ________________ and I am a member of _______________________________.  (your church, a club, a neighborhood association, etc..)

We desperately need more affordable housing in Pasadena! Use one of the of the following as a prompt to create your own personal one-two sentence story:

  • Our church used to be full of Pasadena residents, but many of them have had to move away because housing costs are so high!
  • My business cannot pay enough to cover my employee housing cost.
  • My aunt ??? left our city to due to the cost of housing and she baby sat for me creating a real hardship for us.
  • I had to take on extra work to cover the cost of housing and leaving less time for my family or church.

There are two major opportunities for affordable housing:

Continue with the following:

  1. Affordable housing on the Water and Power site in the civic center.
  2. Affordable housing on church land.

The Water and Power site has been sitting vacant for many, many years and is certainly “surplus” land which the law prioritizes for affordable housing. Furthermore, the need for this housing is great! Please do all that you can to speed this process along!

Churches across Pasadena are stepping up to offer their land for affordable housing, but they need the zoning to be changed to let them do that! This zoning change will speed up the process of building the housing we need and will make the process considerably less expensive, which makes affordable housing dollars stretch further so that more can be built. Please advise the Planning Commission to work with the Planning Department to make the necessary zoning change.

Thank you for your service to our community!

With your name here.

More talking points for Overlay Zone to allow congregations to build affordable housing on their excess land.

 #1: We are asking the City Council to support an overlay zone because the time to address the need for affordable housing is now, more than ever. And we have religious organizations throughout the City eager to be partners in making this happen.

 Simply put, an overlay will save significant time, significant money, and provide certainty for both the religious organizations willing to provide affordable housing and the communities where that housing will be located.

By supporting an overlay zone that will ensure the majority of housing that will be developed is affordable, the City can ensure that projects are feasible and done in a way that minimizes the need for City or other public money to make affordable housing happen.

An overly zone is needed and superior to other suggestions of incorporating such zoning to Specific Plan update of Public/ Semi-Public zoning designation so because these planning processes would not adequately address the unique needs of congregations.

#2: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide new land that would not otherwise be available for affordable housing. This is a significant opportunity when so few sites exist. Using church land is a huge opportunity for affordable housing developers to have feasible and successful projects. When they work with churches, developers don’t have to buy land in advance or carry the insurance cost. They can be more confident of community support since they have the support of a church which is part of a neighborhood. Yet, if churches wish to supply affordable housing, the cost and time needed to create a zoning change on a case-by-case basis as opposed to an overlay zone, can be significantly lowered if there such a policy is in place. Plus, it makes the deal attractive to a more experienced developer.

#3:  An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide an opportunity for the city to significantly reach affordable housing production goals and further its goal of being a diverse community. Housing Element (2014-2021) vision:

 “All Pasadena residents have an equalright to live in decent, safe and affordable housing in a suitable living environment for the long-term well-being and stability of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and their community. The housing vision for Pasadena is to maintain a socially and economically diverse community of homeowners and renters who are afforded this right.” 

#4: An overlay zone that enables churches to build affordable housing provides an opportunity for churches to participate in addressing the homeless and housing crisis.  From the poll we conducted, 17 churches are interested in having affordable housing on their land, with the potential of 1,177 units if a Congregational Land Overlay Zone is passed. 95% of churches would support a Congregational Land Overlay Zone to help other churches build housing on their land. Additionally, 19 churches (nearly half of all respondents) would allow SAFE parking on their church’s parking lots. And 11 churches were open to having a FEMA trailer on their property. Twelve churches already own approximately 58 rental units. Only six of them rent at market rate.

#5: An overlay zone that would allow community minded congregations that are already willing and mission-driven to become partners with the city to meet a very real need make good sense.  This also allows religious institutions to practice their faith in a very tangible way. Community based organizations would do this sensitively and respectfully out of love for their neighbors. They will live with this for the long term, so design in keeping with the neighborhood and a commitment to good relationships with neighbors will go a long way in addressing NIMBYISM. 

#6: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will allows for both  flexibility and certainly enabling sensitive solutions and designs for each site. Certain development standards will need to be addressed to provide enough flexibility for projects to be feasible. An overlay zone allows for the kind of certainly with flexibility to balance sensitivity to the project and the adjacent neighborhood in regard to appropriate densities and parking requirements to enhance the character of the neighborhood.

#7: An overlay zone for churches to build affordable housing minimized the money, risk and time for affordable housing developers. They cannot invest a great amount of time, money and risk into rezoning processes, and they will not take this time when there are other, simpler opportunities available in other cities.

#8: Because churches are throughout the city an overlay zone would spread affordable housing development through the city providing geographic equity and opportunity and investment in neighborhoods. The city would be wise to take advantage of this since so few sites exist especially in all areas of the city.  In Pasadena, for example, we estimate that there is capacity to build approximately 5,000 units of affordable housing on excess congregational land (the number of affordable units needed with the new RHNA numbers for the 2021-2028 Housing Element cycle). We know that not all congregations will do this, but the potential is significant. An overlay zone would ensure that any housing be built would be within city guidelines appropriate for each community. We must recognizing the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation, and base of support in the community.  An overlay zone would help the city to go a long way toward meeting an urgent need.

#9::Church attendance is declining, Gallop says that 69% of U.S. adults were members of a church in 1998-2000, compared with 52% in 2016-2018. This is particularly the case within land-rich older and mainline churches. Some churches are looking to off-load over-sized parking lots, high-maintenance buildings, and extra space. With shrinking congregations, many churches are unable to keep up. Affordable housing on church land has enabled churches to bless their communities, stay within mission, and help to prevent displacement due to the cost of housing, the very thing that is hurting many Pasadena churches.  Should a church feel called to consider affordable housing on their property, an overlay zone enabling churches desiring to have affordable housing on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis.

#10: Churches have a successful track record of partnering with affordable housing developers to provide affordable dwellings on their excess land. Some churches have already put parking lots, buildings constructed for congregations much larger than those of today, and other space on their properties to higher and better use by including affordable housing. In partnership with National Core (which developed Marv’s place in Pasadena, the UMC church in Santa Ana will be providing 95 units, half for families and half for those experiencing homelessness. Churches are doing this because they are called to serve the community and particularly its most vulnerable residents. Yet at the same time, they are also often able to generate a modest level of economic benefit that stabilizes these often struggling, but longstanding and critical institutions of our social fabric. In some cases, affordable housing developers have even provided additional parking for a church or developed other community serving uses on a site. Adopting an overlay zone that would enable churches, feeling so lead, to provide affordable housing on their property. Such a policy would make the process more straightforward, facilitate high quality partnerships with affordable housing developers to create much-needed affordable housing.

#11: Rezoning church land is one way that the city can make right with past sins of racial inequities that served to displace people of color.  With Urban renewal, a thriving African American neighborhood where Parsons now sits was displaced, moving them away from the city center, which today is zoned for 90 units per acre. They were not given the opportunity to capture the added value of the land from up-zoning, but instead encouraged to leave. Thriving Black communities and businesses on N. Fair Oaks were also displaced because of urban renewal. The 210 Freeway pushed out even more people of color. Too many families were not sufficiently remunerated for their property to again buy in Pasadena.  And if they wanted to, banks often would not provide them loans and they often were barred from obtaining private mortgage insurance. Due to significant displacement, one church has 8 members left. Several have closed. As one pastor put it, their church building is in Pasadena, but no one from their congregation can afford to live here anymore. Rezoning church land to allow for affordable housing would serve to prevent more displacement and correct past sins.  Some Black churches are eager to provide affordable housing on their underutilized land, please allow them to do so.

#12: Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and have dedicated themselves to feeding the homeless, tutoring children, raising the City’s youth, keeping people in their homes. This history of investment in the community and neighbors creates a perfect marriage with new neighbors living in affordable housing on their property.

#13:   Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and but many today are on the ropes because of long term trends, COVID-19 and today some need ways to generate income and reduce expenses to be able to continue in their mission. Affordable housing on their property can do just that.

#14:  An Overlay Zone is a locally-focused solution that will do a better job than proposed state legislation. A local solution designed by the community enables us to craft the kind of creative neighborhood-based housing solutions that enhance the design, beauty and character of our city.

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