Support Affordable Workforce Housing for Teachers and Staff

30 May

Pictured above is a rendering of a newly opened 122-unit affordable workforce housing community for teachers and staff in Jefferson Union High School district (JUHSD). Located in the pricey San Francisco Bay area housing market and faced with a roughly 25% staff turnover rate, leaders at JUHSD decided they needed to take bold action—they became housing developers. Click to find out how this has helped attract and retain teachers and staff.

Pasadena’s public school are facing a crisis similar to what schools are facing in the Bay Area. Because salaries for teachers and staff in Pasadena are lower than in nearby districts, it is hard to attract and retain teachers and staff. Teachers and staff in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) need (and deserve) raises. We at MHCH strongly support salary increases.

It is also clear that PUSD staff and teachers need affordable housing since many cannot afford to live where they work. The need is urgent. The average public school teacher salary in Pasadena was $62,000 in 2022.  Average one-bedroom apartments rent for $3,000/month. Therefore, a teacher in Pasadena must pay nearly half of his or her income in rent to live in the city.

“Essential workers” (janitors, cafeteria workers, etc.) fare even worse. Their salaries range from around $36,00-$50,000/yr.

A survey in the 2023 PUSD Master Plan indicates that 66% of teachers support “housing assistance.” For years PUSD has been exploring ways to help teachers and staff to afford to live in Pasadena instead of having to commute long distances. A feasibility study has been completed that would create workforce housing on the campus of Roosevelt School, which was closed along with two other schools in 2019.

On Thursday, June 8, a special meeting of the PUSD board will consider the proposal to use the Roosevelt School campus for workforce housing for teachers and staff. If you want to help teachers and staff afford to live where they teach, please show up and speak out. The special meeting will take place at 6:00 pm at 351 S. Hudson St., Pasadena, in LB 236.

No one likes to see schools close, but the sad reality is that over half of Pasadena’s schools have closed due to declining enrollment. Campuses lie empty and are costly to maintain. That’s why workforce housing on school land makes sense.

PUSD proposes using bond money to help finance workforce housing, which cannot be used for salaries. But lower rents will help teachers and staff live closer to where they work.

Santa Clara Unified School District’s 70-unit Casa del Maestro reduced teacher attrition by two-thirds compared with other nearby districts.

Bay Area high school teacher Lisa Raskin moved out of a cramped apartment she was sharing with a roommate and into her own place, paying a deeply discounted $1,500 a month for a one-bedroom with expansive views within walking distance to work.

“I have a sense of community, which I think is more valuable than anything else,” said Raskin. “More districts really need to consider this model. I think it shows educators that they value them.”

Work force housing will help students as well as teachers. A Terner Center study found that the scarcity of affordable housing in California impacts the quality of K-12 education because public school teachers and employees often cannot live in the communities where they work. School districts then face challenges in recruiting and retaining staff, which creates instability that can lead to worsening outcomes for students and acute staffing shortages.

California lawmakers in 2016 made it easier for districts to finance and build workforce housing on school property, but some efforts have stalled over financing and residential pushback. Five workforce housing complexes currently exist in Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Mateo county school districts.

Affordable housing, even for teachers and essential workers, invariably encounters resistance so we need to advocate for it. That’s why we hope you’ll join us on June 8th. To find out more, contact


Are Homeless People a Threat to Children, or Vice Versa?

19 May

By Anthony Manousos

This article is from the May 19 MHCH Newsletter. To read the entire newsletter, click here.

One of the most common myths we hear about unhoused people is that they are a threat to children and our schools. Disheveled, mentally ill people acting out on the street may seem threatening, like the man pictured above on the left. Shawn Morrisey, who lived on the streets for many years and now works for Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena, often says, “If you had seen me when I was homeless, you would thought I was a scary person.” This above picture went viral and shows Jim Wolf, a vet from Grand Rapids, MI, before and after a makeover that changed his life.

In San Dimas thousands of people showed up to protest permanent supportive housing for seniors (elderly folks over 55 years old) who were living on the streets, claiming that their proximity to a school would endanger children. But are these fears justified?

I did a google search and found very few cases where unhoused people attacked or harmed children, and in no cases were they living in supportive housing. In 2015 in Los Angeles a homeless man grabbed a child near Disney Hall and the headline said that the child was stabbed. The article goes on to state that the boy was only scratched.[1]  There have been attacks on children and teens by homeless men on subways, none of which were fatal.  In one incident a homeless man was accused of killing a child, but the charges were dropped.[2]

All of these incidents are disturbing and shouldn’t be dismissed, but we need to also keep in mind that children are much more likely to be sexually abused by relatives or by teachers than by the unhoused. One of the biggest threats to students is being killed by fellow students toting a gun.

What is also disturbing is the number of unhoused people who are assaulted by teens and even ten-year-old boys.

Egged on by a 17-year-old, two 10-year-old boys joined in the attack of a Florida homeless man, leaving him bruised and bloody, police said. The incident highlights an upswing in violent crime across the U.S. against the homeless. In 2006, there were 142 attacks and 20 murders, several involving teenagers seeking a vicious thrill, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition for the Homeless.[4]

In January 2023, seven teenage girls in Toronto allegedly “swarmed” and murdered a 59-year-old unhoused man.[5] Such incidents have become so common they have even received a name: “sport killings.” Horrific though this seems, it is not surprising since many parents harbor such negative stereotypes that children see nothing wrong in attacking or even killing unhoused people. This is happening everywhere, even in Pasadena, where teens sometimes throw rocks at the unhoused residents of our city.

Some schools don’t see affordable/supportive housing as threatening to their students, however. In East Whittier, the conversion of a motel to supportive housing received a lot of community support even though it was next to a school. Monica Oviedo, Whittier Union High School District superintendent, said that the location had fewer issues as a place for unhoused individuals than when it was a motel. She affirms:

“Whittier Union High School District is committed to ensuring our students have access to the resources they need to succeed in not only academics but their personal endeavors as well. This includes having access to affordable housing. Whittier Union is supportive of Supervisor Janice Hahn’s efforts in making this a reality. She has always been a strong advocate for our District community, and we are tremendously grateful.”[6]

As people of faith, we need to remind our friends and neighbors that our unhoused neighbors are children of God, just like us, and we should be grateful when they are safely housed.  If they are given the supportive services they need, they will thrive, and our communities will be better off and safer. This is putting the command to love thy neighbor into action. And as the Gospel says, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).







Reflection on Just Land Distribution in the Bible

17 May

by Jill Shook


Almost every nation has done some kind of major land reform in its history when extreme disparities of wealth threaten the nation’s stability. When there are extreme disparities, a nation is vulnerable to a revolution.  At times of greater equality in a nation, there is greater stability. All wealth is derived from the land and air—our food, our water, all the minerals and resources needed to build homes and sustain life.  When we abuse such resources, we hurt ourselves and our children’s future.

The Catholic priest, historian and writer Thomas Berry died at the age of ninety-four in 2009. The self-described “geologian” founded the Riverdale Center for Religious Research. In 2005, Berry told a reporter,

“If the earth does grow inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants.”


The Bible can be seen though a lens of a God seeking equality on earth—in relationships, in how money, goods and land are distributed. For example, in describing the purpose of in II Cor 8-9, in verse 8:13-15 Paul says:

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 

Here Paul quotes “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little” from, Exodus 16:18, which summarizes the goal of the manna that God rained down on the people of Israel.  The people had been wandering in the wilderness and God supplied them with food and water. The food came in the form of Manna at night that looked like frost on the ground that each family would gather. The Manna spoiled when they tried to save it for the next day (except for the Sabbath). If they took too much in one day, when they measured it, they had enough, one Omer per person. The same happened if they gathered too little, they would have enough. This was powerful lesson on equality. 

In our first reflection together on April 22nd I did a scan through the Christian Scriptures on a theology of land and the rhythm of recycling land every 7 years laid out in Lev. 25. This recycling and rhythm of life brings health to our bodies, to society and to the earth itself. If you recall it goes like this: Every seven days we rest, and every seven years the land is to rest and lay fallow as farmer would say. That year there is also a forgiveness of debts. Then after seven times seven years, the land would go back go its original owner with a land redistribution enabling landless people to again have access to land.

This recycling of land is summarized in Deut. 15, and I want to share with you just part of this passage today beginning with verse 4.  As this is read, I want to us to reflect on three questions:

  1. What hits you as we read?
  2. How does this relate to utilizing underutilized land on your church campus for affordable


  1. What does it take to realize land redistribution in the US?

“There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession. You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. The Lord your God will bless you as he has promised….

“……But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need. Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone a loan because the year for canceling debts is close at hand. If you refuse to make the loan and the needy person cries out to the Lord, you will be considered guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. 11 There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.

In summary, I want to quote from one of the Early Church fathers, Basil of Caesarea or
Saint Basil the Great, who lived from 330 – January 1, 379. He said this,

“The private appropriation of the koina, such as land, is robbery. Hence, continued excessive landownership is but fresh and continued theft. Indeed, the hoarding of other things, too, which one does not need, but what others do need, is itself a form of theft. “

This quote is from the book, Oppression to Jubilee Justice by Lowell Noble. I count it an honor to have known Lowell, a brilliant sociologist deeply in love with God. It was a privilege to do workshops with him and collaborate on writing a chapter with him. He worked closely with Dr. John Perkins, one of my life-long mentors.

I want to end this reflection by sharing briefly about another of my many favorite books, Ownership: Early Christian Teaching by Charles Avila. Avila attended seminary in the Manila, in the Philippines which had a beautiful expansive grassy landscape well cared by the gardeners. He began a series of conversations with the gardeners who were part of a land reform movement. They were all landless and kept in perpetual poverty because they had no opportunity to create generational wealth. Soon he realized that what they were saying about land was more biblical than what he was learning in the seminary. So, he researched what the Early Church fathers said about land and its fair distribution, and it was not insignificant. So, he wrote this book about it.

From the earliest days of the Early Church to what the Pope today has declared about making church land available to the poor, the just and fair distribution of land emerges as a foundational way of ending poverty, bringing about health and creating equality. 

A Few Who Care Can Transform a City: A theology of cities

11 May

I have been dong workshops for Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) for over 30 years. There I have had the privilege of meeting Jember Tefarra from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where her husband was the mayor. The coup that overthrew the emperor, Haile Salassi, landed her husband in prison where she brought him meals for three years. Then she was put in prison with 150 women-and was hated there for her privilege. Upon release, she got an MA in community development in England and came back and mobilized 40,000 inner city folks to provide housing, schools, jobs, sewers, toilets, and well-baby clinics. She became the conscience of the city.

There have been many Jember’s around the world that God has appointed to transform their cities.

Approx 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030.

By 2030, the global share of the urban population is projected to rise further to 60 per cent. The world is moving to cities, so we need to be ready, we need to be welcoming of all kinds of people; and that means not to practice exclusion, as is often the case when people in cities reject affordable housing. We need to be hospitable demonstrating inclusive practices in our cities and in our own congregations.

Over 300 cities and towns are mentioned in the Bible, Jericho the oldest and Nineveh the biggest, but Sodom is perhaps the most famous for its sex and violence.

But can a handful of people save a city? Indeed.

The presence of just a few righteous people like Jember can save a city.

Isaiah 59 says that the Lord looked and there was no one to intervene at that time.

But God had used Abraham to intervene. He negotiated with God to save Sodom, and it was clear that with only a few righteous and faithful people that God would have saved the city.

God called prophets to speak to leaders of nations and cities. These advocates took risks by standing on the side of those most vulnerable. At the center of every prophetic message is the widow and orphan. And Jesus lifts the most vulnerable in the center of every parable. This is where our organization, MHCH, has stood for 23 years as we have been advocating at the city level:

  • We didn’t have a Housing Department, so we asked for one at the City Council and got it in 2009. We now have a department that believes in the Housing First Model which, combined with our collaborative efforts, has resulted in 56% drop in our homeless count. Our housing director is committed to ending homelessness.
  • We discovered that our tenant protection ordinance only protected landlords, so we changed that.
  • We crafted and passed an inclusionary ordinance that has produced 590 affordable apartments embedded into luxury complexes at no cost to the city or to the developer, and has put over $26 million into our city’s affordable housing trust fund. That money has been leveraged to produce over 600 more affordable apartments.
  • Our city opposed allowing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) so we went to the State. Now we have a national award-winning affordable ADU program that our city take pride in.
  • Churches approaching us for technical support didn’t have the proper zoning, so we had a 2.5-year campaign to rezone religious land with a partial win, so now we have gone to the State and proposed a bill called SB 4. If passed, this bill will expand the opportunity for churches to have affordable housing on their underutilized land, since so few cities were passing such ordinances.

Sometimes our planning meetings for these campaigns have between 3-10 folks, but with hundreds showing up to pray and attend public meetings when needed.

God asked for a few righteous people to save Sodom from the sin of neglecting the poor (Ezekiel 16: 49-50), but not enough were found.  Sometimes it takes only a few.

Jesus also challenged cities. He spoke to cities in Matthew 11 and Luke 21 and said, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” Their disbelief prevented the righteous work of God from taking place.

When we do our One-Day Housing Justice Institutes with the faith community within a city, sometimes we have an activity where we all write letters if we were Jesus, writing to our city. Some are open to sharing them, and before long we are in tears.

Jesus cried over Jerusalem. He wanted to gather and unite the city like a mother hen. The prophets and Jesus had expectations for cities.

CCC, the Clergy Community Coalition, a 75-member strong coalition for clergy to come together to pray and seek ways to love our city into doing the right thing. We have been addressing police abuse. With the chief and the superintendent and city manager present, we seek to hold them all accountable. We seek to be the salt and light.

My mentor, Dr. Ray Bakke, authored  Theology as Big as a City a powerful book about  cities in the Bible and how God was seeking to save them.

If you want to have affordable housing on your church property or in your city, you may one day need to show up at a city Planning Commission or the City Council, to get your project passed or you may want to support other projects in your city.  This is one way to practice how to practice loving your city, loving the poor as part of our discipleship.

Getting to know your neighborhood and its assets: God’s command is like a triangle of love…

5 May

This reflection was given by Jill Shook on Thursday, May 4th for the seven churches participating in the Congregational Land Cohort. The churches are exploring the idea of providing affordable housing on their church campuses. Additionally, team leaders from Washington, Texas, Colorado, and N. California attended who are exploring starting teams like ours. Our Congregational Land Team has been meeting for four years and has helped 28 churches so far to effectively partner with an affordable housing developer. The goal for this second of our four sessions was “Getting to know your city/neighborhood: housing types and models, population served.”

In Luke 10, an expert in Jewish law asked Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Answer? “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

Then the seeking to trick Jesus he asked, who is my neighbor?

Answer: Jesus told the famous parable of the Good Samaritan—where the one on the side of the road was ignored by the priest and Levite (and by too many of us because we are in a hurry to get to church on time, or to teach on this story.

A famous study in 1973 by Darley and Batson’s Good Samaritan, testing how seminarians responded to someone in need on their way to class. This “test” revealed that only 10% stopped to help.

I am always so amazed and challenged by Jesus, who never seemed to be in a hurry and allowed himself to be interrupted, usually with much grace.

Loving our neighbors takes time. And it changes our priorities. When I bought my home in a primarily African American neighborhood in Pasadena in 1994 for only $143,000—I took time to get to know all the neighbors before I moved in, and once I got settled in and all the things fixed, my priority turned to my neighbors. For several years I walked the block and got to know families and invited the young children to come to my home every Friday to make cookies and learn scripture. The youth chose the verses they wanted to memorize and became the teachers by writing out the passage on a chalk board, then asking others to erase one word at a time, repeating the verse each time another word was erased. Soon they could say the verse by heart. They earned a cookie for each verse and often they left with stacks of cookies.

But that was in 1995-1997, and as I improved my home, and my property values rose, and I saw some of my African American neighbors move due to rising rents. I had become part of the problem. I wanted to be a good neighbor, but I also unwittingly became a gentrifier. This has motivated me to do all I can to help to make stable and affordable housing to create mixed income neighborhoods.

But back to my story about the children— sadly, the most unresponsive neighbors were often those who were part of a church and so busy with church activities, that they didn’t have time to be involved with their neighbors.

Loving neighbors challenges us to love God in new ways. When we love children and those in need, as Jesus says in Matthew 18 and 25, we are caring for Jesus himself.  We often enjoy worship on Sunday morning to demonstrate our love for God, but often we are on auto pilot with our activities and forget to trust God with our time and become more flexible like Jesus was.

In fact, it’s hard to become flexible without working on ourselves—it takes a lot of internal resources for us to be open, vulnerable, and present when we are distracted by other priorities, so we must be intentional about our priorities.

One tool that some churches and organizations have used to become more intentional about loving their neighbors and their community is called Asset Mapping.

Asset mapping is a process whereby a community’s assets are specifically identified, and described with the purpose of discovering the strengths and resources of a community which can help to uncover solutions.

I’m going to share an example that Phil Burns and I learned about in Madison, WI about a month ago.

We went to a Lutheran church in N Madison that had been in fellowship with a Moravian Church. They so appreciated each other that they eventually merged. They keep their separate identities and denominations but share the same worship service with combined congregations.

They became aware of the need for affordable housing and began to explore this. So, the church began to talk with their neighbors. They met with the school next door. The school supported the idea of housing but also said that their students needed a store to buy snacks and school supplies. So, they began to incorporate this idea into their vison for housing. They met with their local City Council representative, and he suggested that they look beyond just this triangle lot that they owned, and he would seek to vacate the little used street to make the project larger. Then he realized that there was some storm drain land that was unused next the street, and that this land was no longer needed for storm drainage, so he offered this as well. Soon what was to be about a ¾ acre project became several acers.

Assets were discovered by intentionally listening to the community and by doing so, the larger footprint was making the project feasible.

We never know how God may open surprising doors when we get to know the assets and needs in a community.

In summary, I want to remind myself and all of us of the great command: to love God and neighbor and self… it’s like a triangle with God, neighbor, and Self at each of its points. We can’t really love God without loving our neighbor, and we can’t really love neighbor without loving God. And to love neighbor you may need a good dose of God’s love. And to genuinely love neighbor we must love and care for ourselves to be authentic and slow down enough to be truly present. To love ourselves we need God’s grace and forgiveness. We need to feel loved by God and trust God with our time and all we need to be wholehearted, to live with all our strength, mind, and soul. Each part of the triangle is dependent on the other – all are needed.  And all can be in balance by God’s grace and God’s loving Spirit in our lives.

Loving God, loving neighbor and self is repeated over and over in the Bible (Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 30:6; Josh 22:5; Matt.22:37; Mark 12:30; and Luke 10:27. God knew we needed to hear it more than once.

Which part of this command to love is the most important? All three. A beautiful triangle of love that will serve to transform us and our neighborhoods and our world.

Affordable Housing News, Action Update, With Two Joys….

28 Mar

March 24, 2023

Hello All from Marisol!

Scripture says in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things…” In this next story we celebrate some great things happening here in Pasadena with affordable housing, thanks to the efforts of our Housing Director Bill Huang and his team! We bless and celebrate with Bill and pray for his continued efforts!

Stories in This Issue

  • Join us Tues., March 28, 7 pm. MHCH Housing Justice Forum on 2023 State Housing and Homeless Bills—Which ones do we support? And how? 
  • Join us! San Gabriel Valley Housing Justice Symposium on April 1.
  •  “Good News about Affordable Housing in Pasadena from Bill Huang, our Housing Director” by Anthony Manousos.
  • “Rochelle Mills: Affordable Housing Developer and Rock Star” by Anthony Manousos.
  • Irvine Housing Opportunities video narrated by Rochelle Mills and others.

Click Here:

Good News About Affordable Housing from Pasadena’s Housing Director Bill Huang

by Anthony Manousose83328_a41b74c39c684d9abc74e40d1ae4ad65_mv2

It is a joy to meet with Bill Huang, Pasadena’s Housing Director. He is deeply committed to affordable housing, extremely capable, and eager to share what has been accomplished under his watch.

He gave us a handout with the latest tally showing a total of 569 affordable units under construction in Pasadena:

  • 132 are inclusionary units (included in a market rate development),
  • 119 are rehab units,
  • 318 units are new construction, such as Pasadena Studios, Heritage Square South, Adept Walnut, Lincoln and Orange Grove, and the Salvation Army Hope Center.

It is very encouraging to see that

  • 305 of these units listed above are for low-income renters,
  • 65 are for very low,
  • 24 for moderate,
  • 25 for workforce and
  • 140 for extremely low renters, including those experiencing homelessness. When the Hope Center and Heritage Square South open up this year, they will reduce our city’s homeless count!

Additionally, 1,254 affordable units are “in the pipeline,” meaning that they are real projects that haven’t yet started construction.

Finally, there are also 495 units of “missing middle” workforce housing–for those earning between 80% and 120% of the area medium income–mostly located at Westgate. These units will rent for between $250 and $1000 less than market rate units and will enable young professionals to live in our city.

This is an impressive achievement, especially compared with most other cities. But the need is huge and can seem daunting. We need to build 6,000 affordable units in the next eight years, according to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

Even though we have a long way to go, it is important to celebrate what has been accomplished so we can feel hopeful about achieving our ultimate goal: ending homelessness and ensuring that everyone has a decent, affordable place to live in our city.

We’re excited to work with Bill Huang who will give a presentation encouraging other religious institutions to follow the example of Salvation Army Hope Center when it opens up this summer. We will also present our process about how we help congregations have affordable housing built on underutilized land. The Hope Center will house 65 people experiencing homelessness. Bill played a key role in making this happen. To attend Bill’s presentation, hear about our work, and see other affordable housing in our city, we’re planning a “Dispelling Myths, Providing Solution” bus tour. Come and see for yourself!

Affordable Housing News, Action Update, with a Joy….March 17 , 2023

21 Mar

Hello all from Marisol!

Today I choose to highlight a story that powerfully embodies the spirit of Women’s History Month! Anne Miskey speaks boldly and fiercely in favor of our unhoused brothers and sisters. I was reminded of “The Oath of an Amazon” in the contemporary movie Wonder Women as I read about Anne Miskey’s passion. “Sisters in battle, I am shield and blade to you,” says Wonder Woman. “While I live, your cause is mine!” Our unhoused neighbors need our help, our voice and strength to overcome. Thank you and blessings to our sister-in-battle Anne Miskey!

Stories in This Issue:

  • Tuesday, March 28, at 7 pm. MHCH Housing Justice Forum on 2023 State Housing and Homeless Bills—Which ones do we support? And how? 
  • San Gabriel Valley Housing Justice Symposium on April 1.  
  • Anne Miskey: Champion for the Unhoused and Most Vulnerable by Anthony Manousos.
  • Downtown Women’s Room Video narrated by Anne Miskey.
  • Legislative Priorities of Housing California by Jill Shook and Anthony Manousos.

Click Here:

Anne Miskey: Champion for the Unhoused and Most Vulnerable

by Anthony Manousos

During Women’s History Month it seems fitting to celebrate Anne Miskey who serves as Chief Executive Officer of Union Station Homeless Services. Anne is a nationally recognized expert on strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to ending homelessness. She is a passionate proponent of the most vulnerable in society and of creating long term, positive change and strong systems that support those experiencing poverty, violence, racism and homelessness.


Prior to joining Union Station Homeless Services, Anne was the CEO of the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) and first ever Executive Director of Funders Together to End Homelessness.

What a great joy to talk with Anne at the Faith Summit on Homelessness last week and also meet with her in her office this week! Anne recognizes the importance of advocacy and strongly supports the work of MHCH. She has hired people with “lived experience” of homelessness (like Shawn Morrissey) to be advocates. She supports efforts like Measure H and rezoning religious land for affordable housing (SB 4). We at MHCH deeply appreciate Anne for her knowledge, passion and commitment to end homelessness. Here’s a powerful message she delivered at the Homeless Memorial of All Saints Episcopal Church:

 Anne Miskey’s Message

March 6, 2023

We must ask ourselves, why, in a country of billionaires, anyone is forced to live in a car, a doorway or on a park bench.  We must ask, why there are so many people who are living and dying on our streets?

 For most of us, we can live the American Dream. We have a home – a place that offers warmth and safety, a place that offers security from the dark unknown. We have a place where we can gather together in warmth and comfort and safety.

But sadly, this American dream is out of reach for too many – for all those who fall through the cracks into homelessness and too often are discarded, ignored and forgotten.

Many in our society simply throw up their hands and say we can’t solve this – it’s impossible and therefore they do nothing.  Others deal with it by turning the blame or the responsibility on those very people living in homelessness. They blame people who may be suffering from an illness – whether mental, physical or the disease of addiction – they blame them for being victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and even blame them for their poverty. My favorite is when they talk about people “choosing to be homeless” – as if 65,000 people in Los Angeles, or 550 people in Pasadena woke up one day and said – I no longer want to sleep in a safe, warm place. I no longer want a bed, a kitchen or my own bathroom. And still others simply hold their hands over their ears and close their eyes, choosing to not let the tragedy facing so many spoil their own lives and dreams.

 Tonight, we are here to say this is not acceptable – it is not acceptable in God’s eyes – nor should it be acceptable in ours. To ignore the problem, to sweep it under the safety and security of our own lives or to blame the victims – is not loving nor is it just. We are called upon to do more and we are called to be more.

 We have gathered here this evening to honor all those without homes who have left this mortal world this past year. We are here to make sure they are not forgotten – that they are more than simply a homeless person – as if that was all there was to their very existence. No – we are here to honor and remember them because they are all God’s children and each and every one one our brother or sister. We are here today to remember and to honor those who have died – but we are also here to see, to see all those still living without a home.

But the truth we are called to is to do more than honor them, or see them – rather, we must fight with them- with those still living on our streets –  and we must fight for them. We are called to fight for justice, for compassion and for love – we must fight for humanity, both theirs and our own. For to be truly human is to love our neighbor whether they live in the house next door – or under the underpass down the street. Every faith has this golden rule – that we are all called upon to love others as we would have them love us.   

Tonight – and going forward, let us reframe the American dream so that it is not just about us – but that it is about all of us – all our neighbors, especially those who are unhoused. So let us come together in love and in justice to ensure that everyone has a safe place where they can go – that they can call their own. Let us remember those who have died – and in honoring them, let us fight together – but more importantly, let us love together so that no more are forgotten or left to live and die on the streets.

Affordable Housing News, Action Update, With a Joy….March 3, 2023

15 Mar

Hello All from Marisol!

Who is a good neighbor? Simply put, someone who looks out not only for their own personal interest, but also for the interest of those around them. Treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated. Twice my little dog Frodo has run out into the streets and two different neighbors have come to our rescue! Thank you, good neighbors! This next story is a perfect example of what it means to be a good neighbor. Shout out to Betsy Bohuslavsky, a member of La Fuente Ministries and Bert Newton, one of our own here at Making Housing and Community Happen, for being good neighbors and building this Beloved Community we call Pasadena!

 Stories in this issue 

  • Join us for an hour-long “MHCH 101” and learn how you can engage in our housing justice work, a monthly series starting at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 7.
  • Building the Beloved Community is Fundamental to Organizing for Justice by Bert Newton.
  • Join Our Affordable/Supportive Housing Advocates (ASHA)!
  • A Time to Mourn the Deaths of Our Homeless Neighbors….by Anthony Manousos.
  • Homeless Memorial at All Saint Church in Pasadena on Monday, March 6, at 6:00 pm
  • LA County Faith Summit on Homelessness: 9:00 am-1:00 pm, March 9 at Lake Ave Church.
  • 2023 State Housing and Homeless Bills—Which ones do we support? And how?  MHCH Housing Justice Forum on Tuesday, March 28, at 7 pm.
  • How the US made affordable housing illegal (video) with intro by Anthony Manousos.

Click Here:

Building the Beloved Community Is Fundamental to Organizing for Justice, by Bert Newtone83328_e7fdb62a90c0482187e0dab15b4b8683_mv2

Claiming rent control rights has provided an opportunity to build stronger relationships of solidarity. I’ve been going out to churches to spread the word that, under measure H, many Pasadena renters are due a rent rollback and, possibly, a refund. As of January 1, rent on units covered by the rent control portion of Measure H (click here to find out if your unit is covered) should have rolled back to whatever the rent was on May 17, 2021, and if the tenant overpaid rent in January, February, or March, then the tenant is owed a refund or can take it off of the next month’s rent.

But, of course, many landlords are not letting their tenants know about the rent rollback, and many tenants don’t know about it.

Nevertheless, due to our outreach efforts, some people are not only beginning to claim their rent rollbacks, they are also telling other tenants about it and forming relationships with their neighbors, creating bonds of solidarity that are crucial to building what Dr. Martin Luther King called the “beloved community.”

Betsy Bohuslavsky, a member of La Fuente Ministries, started talking to a couple of neighbors in her building, and then I assisted her in going door-to-door to talk to the rest of them.

It’s recommended that tenants who have the same landlord act together to claim their rent rollback so that the landlord cannot retaliate against one person.

Betsy noted that she was not only protecting herself by getting the neighbors involved but also building community in a place where normally everyone tends to keep to themselves.

We talked about how relationships and community are necessary in the work to build sustainable justice and how that is what Jesus did when he travelled throughout Galilee and Judea. Jesus brought people together through free healing (healthcare) and food and then taught the people about the beloved community, which he called the Kingdom of God/Heaven.

As we work together for housing justice, we too can find ways to connect with our neighbors and draw them into the work to build the beloved community so that we can transform our city into one that is just and sustainable.

To learn more about your new rights as a Pasadena tenant, and to obtain a “toolkit” to help you obtain your rights, go to

You also can click here to watch our MHCH Forum on Rent Control.


Affordable Housing News, Action Update, With a Joy….March 10, 2023

14 Mar

Hello all from Marisol!

This week I experienced Hebrews 10:24 come to life through the beauty of God’s orchestrating power! Many brothers and sisters came together, concerned for one another, stirring each other up in love and good works! You’ll read in this story about how a team of missionaries from Missions Door and 20 students from Phoenix, Arizona, gave up their spring break to serve our Pasadena Hispanic Church and our community! They worked on demolishing structures where we will soon build a center for our youth and a playground for our children! They participated in an affordable housing tour and learned about the work we do at Making Housing & Community Happen. Truly, such amazing people! 

Stories in This Issue

  • 2023 State Housing and Homeless Bills—Which ones do we support? And how?  MHCH Housing Justice Forum on Tuesday, March 28, at 7 pm.
  • State and Local Housing Legislation Supported by MHCH by Bert Newton.
  • A Great Joy: Hosting 20 College Students from Arizona and Initiating Them Into Our Housing Justice Work! by Anthony Manousos.
  • Celebrating the Lives of 97 Unhoused People Who Died Last Year in Pasadena by Anthony Manousos.
  • Good News About Safe Parking and Safe Haven Programs Shared at the Clergy Community Coalition by Anthony Manousos.
  • Mary Nelson: Champion of Faith-Based Community Development and Affordable Housing by Jill Shook and Anthony Manousos with video about the life of Mary Nelson.

Click Here

Hosting 20 College Students from Arizona and Initiating Them Into Our Housing Justice Work

by Anthony Manousose83328_5b45414c09ff41da81c768fc215ac9c4_mv2

What a joy it was to host a group of 20 college students from Arizona who came to Pasadena under the auspices of Missions Door–the organization for which Jill has worked as a missionary and “catalyst” for over 20 years. Led by Myke and Melody Dickens, this enthusiastic group of Christians did a work project at the Hispanic Foursquare Church co-pastored by Jose and Marisol Lopez, who is also an MHCH staff person.


Jill and I took them on an affordable housing tour of the city where they had a chance to see first-hand completed projects and those under construction. They saw Heritage Square South (69 units of supportive housing for seniors which will open up later this year), the site of the Civic Center project next to City Hall (106 units of affordable senior housing), and Westgate (where 97 units were set aside as affordable with no cost to the city due to the inclusionary policy we helped pass).

They also learned how advocacy is crucial to making affordable housing like this happen. They enjoyed playing the Unjust Housing Game and learned how racially biased housing policies have created economic disparities and led to displacement of people of color. They then came to our home to learn about our MHCH housing justice work over a meal of Mexican food (beans, Spanish rice, bolillos, and pastries). We felt blessed to be part of this service learning experience with such amazing young people!

 If you’d like to learn how you can be involved with our work, check out this 20-minute presentation which we shared with this group. It is narrated by Bert Newton, our MHCH organizer and resident theologian.

Affordable Housing News, Action Update, With a Great Joy….

28 Feb

February 28, 2023

Hi All!

The call today is urgent! May we not linger, wait, leave it for another day, what we can do today. As a believer I pray our hearts would be stirred up collectively to righteousness and justice as instructed in Psalms 89:14. Today I hope you will hear the voice of righteousness and justice through Rick Cole, in this article where you will read his simple, yet profound plan to end homelessness in Pasadena. There are so many ways, as presented in this newsletter to be a part of God’s move in our city to help, to change, to touch the life of another with righteousness and justice. I know, I’m also tempted to procrastinate, but this is too important! Let’s not leave it for another day. Marisol Torres

 Stories in this issue:

  • Join us for an hour-long “MHCH 101” and learn how you can engage in our housing justice work, a monthly series starting at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 7.
  • 2023 State Housing and Homeless Bills—Which ones do we support? And how?  MHCH Housing Justice Forum on Tuesday, March 28, at 7 pm.
  • How To Assert Your New Rights as a Tenant Under Pasadena’s Rent Control Law.
  • LA County Faith Summit on Homelessness: 9:00 am-1:00 pm, March 7 at Lake Ave Church.
  • Rick Cole’s Five-Point Plan to End Homelessness in Pasadena.
  • News of Pasadena’s City Council: 710 Working Group and the Need for Motel Vouchers for our Unhoused Neighbors.
  • Black Affordable Housing Rock Stars: The Sharrods and Community Land Trust by Anthony Manousos
  • The Black History Parade and the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative by Jill Shook and Anthony Manousos with videos of Dr. Gilbert Walton and Genee Johnson sharing their stories.
  • Homeless Memorial at All Saint Church in Pasadena on Monday, March 6, at 6:00 pm.

 Click Here:

 Rick Cole’s Five-Point Plan to End Homelessness in Pasadenae83328_986ef8aa25cf4cc1a397a082e8cf9e39_mv2

 Rick Cole wrote a powerful op ed calling for a realistic and attainable plan to end homelessness in our city, which is a “must read” (see Pasadena Now). His assertion that we should treat homelessness as an emergency (akin to an earthquake) seems especially relevant as another chilling winter storm is about to strike our city and our region and we have motel vouchers for, at most, 50-80 people out of the nearly 300 who are living on the street, Here are the steps Cole feels we as a city need to take to address this dire emergency. We’re interested in learning more about this plan. Please let us know if you’d like to learn more by contacting

The Pasadena Partnership’s plan seeks “evidence-based best practices to help reduce homelessness.” They don’t have to look far. Perhaps the most successful model is called “Built for Zero.” Community Solutions is a national non-profit funded by major foundations to develop and test evidence-based best practices.  You can find them here.  Their best practices for ending homelessness are as simple as they are bold:

  1. Create a shared definition of success: Pasadena, like too many other cities, focuses on managing homelessness through outreach, referrals and as the Partnership Plan advocates, providing food, clothing, toiletries, laundry, and showers to the unhoused. Real success should be measured by driving the number of homelessness to “functional zero,” meaning it should be “rare, brief and non-recurring.”
  1. Assemble an accountable, community-wide team: Ever heard of “the Pasadena Partnership to End Homelessness”? Neither had I and I serve on the Planning Commission and teach a class on homelessness at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. To end homelessness, the City, School District, Community College, businesses, churches, non-profits and neighborhood groups need to be working closely together, with a core team that meets weekly to track progress.
  2. Use real-time data, which accounts for everyone by name and need: Pasadena conducted the first ever annual Point in Time count in California back in 1993. But in 2023 we should be using daily information collected and shared with the consent of unhoused individuals where each person on the list has a file that includes their name, homeless history, health, and housing needs. The Federal government actually mandates such a database, but it is confined to non-profit service providers. Emergency responders, medical professionals, schools, law enforcement, transit agencies, libraries and every other entity encountering people experiencing homelessness needs to coordinate their efforts to help get people the services and housing they need.
  3. Center racial equity: while Black people make up just 8% of the population of Pasadena, they make up 34% of our homeless population. Unless we are prepared to confront Pasadena’s long history of racially-segregated housing and discrimination, we can’t get to the root of solving it.
  4. Target data-driven housing investments: Pasadena is without a local source of funding for fighting homelessness or providing affordable housing. We have many needs in our community, but none rank higher than ending the scourge of people living in misery on our streets. If Pasadena is truly “the center of the universe” as Mayor Victor Gordo proudly proclaims, it should be the center of solutions to this human catastrophe in our midst.

These five evidence-based best practices have produced remarkable results in scores of communities around America. Pasadena should get on board to end homelessness, not to tolerate and “manage” it. The longer we wait, the higher the cost in wasted tax dollars and devastated lives.

 Rick Cole is a current Pasadena Planning Commissioner and a former Mayor of Pasadena. He serves as Chief Deputy Controller for the City of Los Angeles.

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