Turning a military base into affordable housing here in Pasadena: how Jill and other housing advocates made this possible

17 Jun

Feb 4, 07 Habitat win-03 edited June 14-13Several weeks ago, we were invited by Habitat Board member Herb Rim to a gala fundraising event at the Pasadena University Women’s Club put on by Habitat for Humanity of San Gabriel Valley. Habitat is building 9 homes in a former military base called the Desiderio Army Reserve Center and needs to raise $2,889,142 to complete this project.

We were excited to be part of this event since Jill played a significant role in making this project possible. Jill and Herb discussed ways to involve the religious community in the new Habitat project, which makes sense, since this project was likely approved due to the strong support of support of churches.

When the Desiderio Reserve Center was about to close, developers wanted to exploit this prime piece of real estate for profit, but Jill and other housing justice advocates saw “a golden opportunity to create affordable housing.”  They knew that the “Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. . . made serving the homeless the first priority for use of all surplus Federal properties, including military installations.”

Even though the law was clear, it took a tremendous amount of work and community organizing to convince the city to follow the law and make sure some aspect of it was set aside for homeless Vets. This did happen, but in a different site, making it then possible for the 9 units proposed by Habitat for Humanity become approved. This story is told in Jill’s book “Making Housing Happen.”

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