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

Pick which day and time you would like to attend. Please register in advance for one of these meetings:

Every Monday in October at 7pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwuceGqqDwpGdc5ZnatlekAhvGe493MI5r-

Every Saturday in October at 10am

Using Congregational Land for Affordable Housing

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: Join our upcoming online forum to find out where MHCH stands

9 Oct

MHCH Ballot PropositionsJoin us for our Monthly Housing Justice Educational Forum, sponsored by Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH). In addition to providing encouraging news about what’s happening around affordable housing in Pasadena, there will be an interactive discussion of ballot propositions and county measures relating to housing justice. We will also hear from churches about what they are doing around affordable housing and homelessness.

When: Tuesday, Oct 20, 2020, at 7:00 PM

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIvcOmpqj8sEtBhI_X8jROy1cweMjJJylh7  

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

Where we at MHCH stand

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.

YES 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

Celebrate “There’s No Place Like Home”

6 Oct

theres no place like homePlease plan to join us online on December 4-6 for three sessions of our “There’s No Place Like Home” celebration o f MHCH with music, stories and presentations. Save these dates:

Friday, Dec. 4: 7:00-8:30 pm.

Sat., Dec. 5: 4:00-5:30 pm.

Sun., Dec. 6: 4:00-5:30 pm.

We will soon include links so you can register for these gatherings.

Also please continue to donate to our work and consider making a recurring donations. The ongoing generosity of donors like you make our work possible!

Click here to donate:

During this scary and uncertain time, we at MHCH are working to make sure that everyone has access to decent, affordable, and safe housing. It’s a huge task and we need your help.

We can’t thank you enough for your generosity. We welcome one-time donations of any amount. We also hope you will also consider becoming a monthly sustaining partner as we diligently seek to address the severe housing crisis.

It is preferable to send large donations by check to reduce online fees and so we can thank you personally. Checks should be made out to “Social Good” with MHCH in the subject line.

 Making Housing and Community Happen c/o Jill Shook

1628 N. Garfield Ave

Pasadena, CA 91104

We use a four-pronged approach to address the growing homeless and housing crisis:

Education

One-day Housing Justice Institutes.

Educational initiatives such as our monthly GPAHG meetings, advocacy trainings and other public events.

Advocacy

North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative.

Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG)l

Advisement:

The Congregational Land Committee was created to assist churches in exploring the feasibility of using some their property to build affordable housing, often at no cost to the church.

Organizing

North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative. Listening to and organizing around the community’s stories, dreams and concerns; developing leaders able to equip other leaders, leaders who see and feel the pain, visualize the community and church assets, and who are able to establish appropriate partnerships, such as affordable housing developers, and other nonprofits like LA Voice.

 To learn more, go to our website: makinghousinghappen.org

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.

Talking Points for Affordable Housing at the Civic Center

30 Sep


On October 5, at 2 pm, the Pasadena City Council will be considering whether to use vacant, city-owned land next to City Hall for affordable housing or sell it to the highest bidder. See agenda: http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/2020%20Agendas/Oct_05_20/agenda%20COVID.asp

The City Council solicited proposals for affordable housing on this site, and three excellent proposals were submitted. See https://www.pasadenanow.com/main/developers-lay-out-plans-for-historic-ywca-building/

Last year the City Council agreed to prioritize affordable housing on this site and subjected this site to the state Surplus Land law, but now they must formally declare this site surplus land so they can consider proposals for affordable housing that were submitted in response to the City’s request for proposals (RFP). If they don’t declare it surplus land, then it must be sold to the highest bidder.

Below some 200-word talking points for you to consider. Please choose one that speaks to you and feel free to express it in your own words. Please follow one of the following procedures to submit commits.

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
. These comments will become part of the public record and will be read by City Council members, but not read aloud during the public 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
. You can choose to have your comments read aloud.

Start each of your talking points by stating your name, district, and something about yourself. How long you have lived here, religious affiliation, occupation, etc.

#1:  I am writing in support of the Planning Department staff recommendation that the Ramona property be declared surplus land, exempt from CEQUA, so it can be used for affordable housing. As you know, the Surplus Land Act requires local agencies—such as cities and transit agencies—to prioritize affordable housing on such land.  As the Planning Department Staff noted, using this site for affordable housing is consistent with the General Plan. The City Council already issued an RFP prioritizing affordable housing on this site, for which there is an urgent need. Developers have presented excellent proposals for affordable and supportive housing. I urge you to take the steps necessary so that these proposals can be considered and approved, and construction of much needed affordable housing can begin.

#2: I urge you to declare the Ramona site to be surplus land so you finalize approving this site for much needed affordable housing. During this election cycle both candidates for mayor and all the other candidates for office affirmed that they support affordable housing. You have an opportunity to show that you meant what you said. As a Christian, I feel we have an obligation to house the poor, just as the early Christians did in Acts 4. Jesus tells us that communities will be judged on how they treat the marginalized. “As you did for the least of these, you did it for me” (Matt 25:40). Let’s set a shining example for other cities by housing our low-income residents in our City’s heart, the Civic Center.

#3: I am writing to urge you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land so that you can consider the excellent proposals that have been submitted by outstanding affordable housing developers. I am very impressed with the three proposals presented during the recent Planning Department’s public meeting. Abode, Bridge and National Core all have proven track records in our city. Because of the City’s RFP, they have expended considerable time and effort to come up with worthy proposals.  Because of the urgent need, I’d like to see affordable family housing along with a component of supportive housing on this site.  I also like the idea of a public courtyard that will attract visitors, as does the courtyard of the City Hall. These elements will help to vitalize and activate the Civic Center. The center of our city near City Hall has been idle and empty far too long. Let’s help our city to have a brighter future by completing our Civic Center with a project we can all be proud of.

#4: I am writing to encourage you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land because it makes good economic sense to build affordable housing on this site. The City’s RFP states that the project should “serve as a catalyst for continued economic growth and provide economic benefits” (p. 5).As you know, affordable housing is an economic stimulus since it is required to have 20 percent local hires, 20 percent local contractors and 20 percent local materials. This will bring millions of dollars to the Pasadena economy at a time when such an influx of funds is urgently needed. Financial considerations are not only or main reason to use this site for affordable housing, however. The need for such housing, especially for families, is critical. Homeless people who currently sleep on and around this vacant property desperately need housing. As a person of faith, I believe we have a moral imperative as well as financial incentive to use this site for affordable and supportive housing. The prophet Zechariah tell us that the LORD Almighty calls us to  “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another”  7:9 (NIV)

#5: I’m writing to urge you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land and using it for affordable housing because we need to do all we can to address the housing crisis in our city. I know that the City Council feels that the RHNA numbers are unrealistically high, but there is no disputing the fact that the need for affordable housing in our city is huge and growing. Over 23,000 people are on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in this City. The last Housing Element indicates that 36% of Pasadenans are low or very low income. 79% of the 16, 730 lower income renters pay more than 30% of their income on rent. Many families are forced to double up, which can create problems for their children. Having 90-100 affordable unit to the Civic Center won’t solve this enormous problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.

#6 : I’ m writing to urge you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land and using it for affordable because it’s a matter of justice. We need to use public land for public good.  We need to provide affordable housing to low-income worker who are risking their lives during this pandemic to provide essential services. They are waiters, grocery store workers, and nurses. They serve our city well but most can’t afford to live here.  As a person of faith, I take to heart what it says in Proverbs 31: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

#7: I am writing you to take prompt action in approving affordable housing in the Civic Center because the need is great and growing because of the pandemic and the economic downturn. It is important to take deliberate action, but taking ten years to approve a YMCA project has caused unanticipated problems. We need to move forward expeditiously during this crisis. A Columbia study estimates that the homeless population could increase by 45% in the next year. Evictions are expected to increase. By approving affordable housing in our Civic Center, we are showing that we are at heart a compassionate city.

#8 I want to thank the City Council for prioritizing affordable housing on the Ramona site. You acted wisely and in the best interests of our City. Now it is time to take the next step and approve declaring the Romona site surplus land so it can actually be used for affordable housing. As a person of faith, I believe that housing those who are low income and homeless not only benefits our city, it is also a blessing. We know from experience that affordable housing transforms lives. People like Dorothy Edwards, Shawn Morrissey, and Cynthia Kirby all lived for many years on the streets of our city. Thanks to supportive housing, they have now become useful and important members of our community. They are now “paying forward” the blessing that they received by helping others. The words of Psalm 41 seem relevant to our challenging times: “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.”


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MHCH Advocacy 101: How to help end homelessness and transform our city

11 Sep

If you’d like a PDF version of our “Advocacy 101” Monthly Housing Justice Educational Forum, click here: Advocacy 101 Sept 22

MHCH’s efforts have helped create over a thousand units of affordable housing and over 135 units of permanent supportive housing for those who are unhoused. Join us as we learn from experienced advocates how a faith-rooted approach can help end homelessness and transform our city through decent and affordable housing. Come and learn skills needed to engage our elected officials to make housing and homelessness a priority during this time of economic downturn and pandemic. 

Presenters at our “Advocacy 101” Forum:


Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra is the author with Dr. Peter Heltzel of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World (Intervarsity Press) and the founder of the Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNet- work. She is a Lutheran Pastor with over 40 years of experience in community ministry, including church- based service and community development programs, congregational and community organizing, and leg- islative advocacy. She has been a national leader in the areas of working poverty and immigration for over 20 years. Alexia received her doctoral degree in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Seminary and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Integral Mission and Global Transformation at Fuller.

Dr. Anthony Manousos is a Quaker peace activist, retired college professor, and co-founder of MHCH along with his wife Jill Shook (whose book Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Mod- els he helped to edit). He currently chairs MHCH’s Affordable/Supportive Housing Advocates (ASHA) and successfully led a campaign to convince the Pasadena City Council to approve 69 units of permanent sup- portive housing for seniors at Heritage Square South. Anthony serves on the board of a national Quaker lobby called Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL.org) and organizes lobby visits both locally and in DC. He has authored/edited seven books and his many articles have appeared in Quaker and professional journals. He blogs about peace, justice and spirituality at laquaker.blogspot.com

MHCH Affordable Housing and Environmentalism Forum

13 Aug

You’re invited to our MHCH Monthly Housing Justice                 Educational Forum. Learn about the environmental dangers posed by the ill—conceived Spacebank housing development in East Pasadena, and how and why affordable housing is often the most environmentally friendly housing ever built.

When: Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020    7:00 PM Pacific Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpfuutqDgoGdehT5uwIWpPx9oaax1fvg3F

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

For more info, contact Jill@makinghousinghappen.com.

For more info contact Jill@makinghousinghappen.com

SPEAKERS:

Kristin Shrader-Frechette is O’Neill Family Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Philosophy, at the University of Notre Dame. She has previously held senior professorships at the University of California and the University of Florida. She has been personally affected by environmental pollution: her  mother died of an environmentally-induced cancer at the age of 43, leaving seven children motherless in Kentucky. Not only does she know her science–with degrees in mathematics and philosophy as well as post-doctoral work in biology, hydroecology, and economics–she is also well versed in Catholic social teaching. Here in Pasadena she has taken up the cause of making sure that any housing built at the Spacebank, a site contaminated with toxic waste from military testing, is safe for children and families.

Tim Kohut, AIA, is Director of Sustainable Design with National Community Renaissance, a regional Developer/Builder of affordable housing.  Tim works with design teams, construction teams and subcontractors implementing strategies aimed at high performance and energy efficiency and to ensure that all projects are built to meet the strictest accessibility requirements.  He is a Certified Accessibility Specialist (CASp), a Certified Energy Analyst (CEA), Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater, and Building Performance Institute (BPI)Energy Analyst.  Tim has spent more than 20 years designing, building, and consulting on affordable housing projects throughout Southern California.

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