Intentional Neighboring, Transformed Neighborhoods

28 Mar
Jacklyn Walker and Sebrina Sims (5)

Mrs. Jacklyn Walker (center) with her daughter Sebrina Sims (right), a Charis homeowner, and her granddaughter. Born and raised in South Atlanta, Mrs. Walker has been intentionally neighboring there for many years.


Making Housing Happen exists because of Bob Lupton.

Bob is the founder of FCS Urban Ministries, and I had heard him tell a certain story so many times, I practically had it memorized. It was the story of his role in turning the Atlanta Stockade — formerly a notorious prison – into GlenCastle: 67 beautiful and affordable loft apartments.

Finally, at a Christian Community Development Association conference, I asked Bob if this story had ever been published. He said it hadn’t. “If I put together a book highlighting all the ways that faith-based groups are building affordable housing,” I said, “would you write up this story as a chapter?”

The rest is history, and Bob’s story appears on pages 81-86 of Making Housing Happen – one of many inspiring examples. (You can read an excerpt of the chapter here, or purchase the book here.)

Interior and Exterior (23)

The story of GlenCastle — transformed from a notorious former prison into beautiful apartments — was the inspiration for the book Making Housing Happen: Faith-based Affordable Housing Models.

GlenCastle was just the start of FCS’ housing ministry. Charis Community Housing works hand-in-hand with FCS as part of the organization’s overall community development efforts. According to Jim Wehner, who joined Charis as executive director in 2008, FCS got its start in the Grant Park area of Atlanta. Bob Lupton moved there in the early 1980s, working with young men in the juvenile detention system as part of Youth for Christ.

Relocating into the community and being a friend and mentor, Bob was doing “community development” before it really became a formal practice, Jim notes. “Bob’s work was much more on the ground, and it drew people into the vision.”

Relationships are still at the heart of FCS and Charis, which get to know one neighborhood at a time. Once FCS identifies an area, four to six individuals or families (staff members and community chaplains) are recruited to move into the neighborhood and to look for long-time residents who already are “living with purpose” there.

The FCS families are encouraged to listen and learn from these residents and to join them in intentionally neighboring the community. “Together, they become part of its fabric and work toward strengthening the neighborhood,” explains Christy Taylor, assistant director of community development. Meanwhile, Charis staff work on finding properties that can be transformed into affordable homes, and help residents empower themselves to address challenges.

Part 2 will explain more about how Charis works.

3 Responses to “Intentional Neighboring, Transformed Neighborhoods”

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  1. Intentional Neighboring, Transformed Neighborhoods – Part Two | MAKING HOUSING HAPPEN - March 31, 2014

    […] a previous blog, we shared about the beginnings of Charis Community Housing, whose affordable housing work in […]

  2. Intentional Neighboring, Transformed Neighborhoods – Part Four | MAKING HOUSING HAPPEN - April 11, 2014

    […] some of the challenges of revitalization – and the results that make it worthwhile. (Part One relates how the ministry began. Part Two looks at Charis’ philosophy and methods, and Part […]

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