Beacon Interfaith: Empowering Churches to Build Affordable Housing, Part 2

2 Mar

Part One of this series introduced Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Beacon organizes and partners with faith congregations who have a vision to end homelessness and create affordable housing. Part Two walks through the congregational organizing process.

Allison Johnson, Beacon Interfaith congregational organizer

Allison Johnson

Along with her colleague Deb Rodgers, congregational organizer Allison Johnson helps congregations prepare themselves to engage in the full process of housing development through education and empowerment:

  • Education: Assisting faith leaders in training members on housing challenges, demographics, and job information, and become equipped to share their learning with others;
  • Empowerment: Enabling congregants to develop skills and tools to translate their passion into action – whether engaging their neighborhoods to take part, advocating at the state legislature for more funding, or attending city meetings to build support.

How does the organizing process work?

To launch the process, congregational organizers spend time with top leadership in a faith community, asking questions and exploring the level of commitment to ending homelessness. A big factor is whether or not a congregation is ready to lead publicly on a controversial issue, Allison notes – because creating new affordable housing is almost always controversial at some stage.

Prior Crossing, future apartment building for unhoused youth

Beacon is currently partnering with The House of Hope Presbyterian Church to develop Prior Crossing, which will offer 44 apartments for homeless youth.

The congregation leaders sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Beacon, and recruit a housing task force. Invitations are extended to other leaders (lay and ordained); professionals working in real estate, architecture, construction, social services; and any congregant who’s passionate about ending homelessness through affordable housing.

Once the task force is in place, members team up with Allison to raise awareness about homelessness and affordable housing. They also work with Beacon’s housing development staff to set the project vision and answer critical questions.

Who needs affordable housing the most? What community resources are available at the state/local/city level to meet those needs? What type of housing might gain traction within the community?

“Once a congregation sets parameters around a vision for housing, it has essentially ‘bought in’ for the long haul,” Allison says. “The project is no longer Beacon’s – it’s their own.”

Coming soon: Part Three looks at a crucial organizing step, and how hundreds of people have found new homes as a result of Beacon’s partnerships with congregations.

Photos courtesy of Beacon.


Beacon Interfaith’s story appears on pages 179–181 of Making Housing Happen. You can read an excerpt here, and find more info or purchase the book at the Wipf and Stock website.

2 Responses to “Beacon Interfaith: Empowering Churches to Build Affordable Housing, Part 2”

  1. Jill Suzanne Shook March 3, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Thank you Daryn!

    Our lives begin to end the day the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Please consider the environment before printing this email
    Jill Shook, Missions Door, Catalyst
    Doctor of Ministry, Bakke Graduate School
    Blog: Website:
    Author/Editor: Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Models
    Jill@ Home: 626)797-4072 Cell: 626)675-1316


  1. Beacon Interfaith: Empowering Churches to Build Affordable Housing, Part 3 | MAKING HOUSING HAPPEN - March 2, 2014

    […] Interfaith Housing Collaborative’s mission to end homelessness through affordable housing. In Part Two, congregational organizer Allison Johnson described how Beacon and its partners gain the needed […]

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