Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Where the Candidates Stand on Affordable/Homeless Housing

21 Jan

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020,  from 6-8 pm, the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) hosted a Candidates Forum at Orange Grove Quaker Meeting, 520 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104.

Since this will be a significant election, which will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, for the Office of The Mayor and City Council Districts 1, 2, 4, and 6, we asked candidates to write out their responses to our questions. To find out where the candidates stand on crucial issues regarding housing in our city, click here:  Candidates Booklet 

Candidates in our Forum:

  • Victor Gordo, Jason Hardin, Terry Tornek, Major Williams (Mayor)
  • Felicia Williams, Kevin Litwin and Patricia Keane (District 2); 
  • Charlotte Bland and Gene Masuda (District 4); 
  • Ryan Bell, Steve Madison, Tamerlin Godley (District 6);

Candidates were asked questions about how they will address the city’s housing and homelessness crisis, how they stand on issues such as Accessory Dwelling Units, gentrification, use of the Civic Center for affordable/homeless housing,  up-zoning, etc. Here is a list of questions that candidates responded to:

Questions for Candidates for GPAHG’s Candidates Forum

Opening question: Please discuss your vision for addressing the affordable/homeless housing crisis.

  1. Please share your thoughts about the new state laws that give homeowners the option to build a junior ADU inside the residence as well as an external ADU on the lot with fewer restrictions. Do you feel that the City should sue to prevent the state from preempting local control over zoning policies such as the building of ADUs?
  2. Many churches in this city have expressed interest in building affordable/homeless housing on their excess land, This might require changes in zoning and parking requirement. How do you feel about this?
  3. There is currently a debate about whether the Civic Center  should be used only for commercial use or for affordable/homeless housing as well as for commercial use. What do you feel is the best use of the Civic Center?
  4. There is a debate about whether new affordable/homeless housing  should be built in every district, including Northwest Pasadena where low-income people are being displaced due to gentrification. What is your opinion on this issue?
  5. Rising rents are a major cause of homelessness and displacement. Some say that rent stabilization will alleviate this problem, while others disagree. What is your view?

Closing Question: Sum up your hopes for what you can accomplish during your term in office to address housing crisis, or one of question that you care deeply about and didn’t get a chance to answer

 

Enjoy pictures and outline from our Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Groups Leadership Retreat on Sat, Jan 3rd, 2020 at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church

11 Jan

the full group except for Anthony

Click on “Leadership Retreat” to enjoy reviewing the outline of our day together. More pictures are below. You can click on each photo to learn more!

Leadership Retreat

Open letter to the Pasadena City Council and Comparative Analysis of the Impact of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in three Pasadena neighborhoods

7 Jan

GPAHG ADU Case Study Comparison

Dear Pasadena City Council,

After your decision on 12-9-2019  to pursue a lawsuit in response to the new ADU policies, and your feelings that the State was making an overreach and deconstructing our neighborhoods, I feel compelled to re-send you the comparative study we did in 2017 which analyzed three Pasadena neighborhoods with upwards to 90 legal ADUs in each one, demonstrating no real impact on these neighborhoods.

We first identified 740 legal ADU in Pasadena, grandfathered in before Pasadena’s restrictive ADU policy in 2003.  We then plotted them on a map and proceeded to analyze these three neighborhoods, one in the southern part of Pasadena, one in the central north and one neighborhood in NW Pasadena. Please carefully read our study. GPAHG ADU Case Study Comparison We put much effort into this and feel that now it the time to re-visit this in light of our concerns about possible negative impacts.

Since there are no demonstrable negative impacts, we’d like to know why some feel that this new state policies would “deconstruct” neighborhoods.  What is the basis for this?

This excellent article I mentioned last week at the city council meeting focuses on housing for the “missing middle” by use of ADUs and a number of other policies in Portland, Boulder (CO), and Cambridge (MA). Helping the “missing middle” has been a deep concern of the City for some time.

Again we thank you in advance for reviewing this before any further discussion about a possible lawsuit. Here is the article: Gentle Infill of ADUs address the missing middle

Additionally, it seemed as if there may have been a misunderstanding about some of the state policies allow. It’s very clear in your staff report and appendixes that Junior ADUs require owner occupancy. This indeed would prevent absentee landlords from buying a home and using it as a “cash cow.”  See number C. 5. on the staff report: Pasadena staff report on State Policies

Thank you for passing many good policies regarding ADUs in recent years. These new state laws propose little variation from what you approved in the past. Let’s wait and see if the concerns you have may actually materialize before preempting them before the community has a chance to help the city provide sorely needed additional housing units.

Jill Shook, Executive Director of MHCH -Making Housing and Community Happen and GPAHG-the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group

Seven big Housing Justice Accomplishments in 2019! Rejoice with us!

1 Jan

             Before Christmas POP! (Pasadenans Organizing for Progress) wanted a list of what our local affordable housing group has accomplished in 2019 in preparation for an “Progressive of the Year” award given to me—and really to all of us. It takes a huge village to make affordable housing happen. (see this link to read the article about our efforts Pasadena Now, Progressive of the Year Award

award from Judy Chu

No state or regional laws requires affordable housing, so when just one church wants to build it, one person wants to create an affordable granny flat in their back yard or one person shows up at a public meeting, signs a letter, contributes financially or more, it makes a real difference. In writing this list of seven accomplishments, I was truly humbled and amazed. So please read and thank God with us for what together we have accomplished in 2019…and give if God so leads.

 1.  Inclusionary: We successfully advocated to increase the affordable housing set aside from 15% to 20%, significantly increased the in lieu fee which will encourage on-site affordable units, and when it is paid this fee will provide more money to build even more affordable housing. We also advocated to end trade downs. Advocates from San Gabriel, Alhambra and Monrovia joined our team and are now working on inclusionary policies in their community.

2. Homeless housing: We successfully advocated for 134 units of permanent supportive housing (which ends chronic homelessness) at Heritage Square South and the Salvation Army. In anticipation of the approval of 94 more affordable housing units in the Civic Center, half for homeless, half for low income families, we have conducted vigils each week that the city council meets in front of the vacant YWCA. Some of churches that have participated are: First Baptist, Calvary, First UMC, Rose City Church, Neighborhood Church, Quaker Meeting, and Mennonites.  

 3. Housing Preservation: We planned a prayer vigil to preserve 169 affordable units in Chang Commons on the Fuller Campus with over 100 in attendance. This event and the team that emerged from it, helped to preserve these units and served to keep Fuller in Pasadena.

4. Church Land: We started a new subcommittee in the summer to help churches interested in building affordable housing to go down that path with expert consultation, with the end goal helping the church create their own Requests for Proposals (RFP) that they can float to affordable housing developers based on what is feasible, what they want and is in line with their mission, and what the community wants. This team is now working with seven churches in Pasadena and Southern CA cities. See: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/church-land  

 5. ADUs: Formed a team that is researching how to make Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs or Granny Flats) more affordable with pre-approved designs and other ways to streamline the process. This team has supported the many new state ADU policies—most of which got passed! We can now build an ADU within the footprint of your home, plus in a converted garage or detached!  

6. Education: We had a leadership retreat in January 2019 with our One-Year Housing Justice students from CO, TX and Pasadena, in collaboration with our local GPAHG team. At this retreat we learned how to tell our own housing stories, played the Unjust Housing Policy game and more. In the summer/fall we collaborated with Blair Miller and Everyone In to plan three Homeless to Housed Bus tours, filling busloads of key leaders from San Gabriel Valley cities to tour permanent supportive housing—all a huge success! We had monthly educational forums on: Gentrification, Theology of Land and housing, Community Land Trusts, Rent Control and other tenant protections, plus Trauma in homelessness and supportive housing. We have attended many educational forums, events on workshops always learning to hone our knowledge and skills, including in Georgia and Texas to learn more about Community Land Trusts and housing justice efforts in other parts of our nation.

7. Internal capacity building: We designed and built a website: makinghousinghappen.org. We finished a 6-min video about our housing justice Institutes: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/one-day-institute. We raised $20,000 in donations during the year and won a $20,000 grant. We hired two staff: Morgan, our office beautiful and helpful assistant; and Bert Newton, our Liaison Church coordinator. Bert was hired to recruit 20 churches committed to our work, and has accomplished much in the these first four months of his efforts. In November we held a gala event with a live 40’s band from JPL, tables for partners including affordable housing developers, and Marshall High students—with 100 in attendance… see picture below of children who participated.  From this and Giving Tuesday, God moved in many hearts to give. We are so thankful and blown away!  But I also know that some may be lead to give financially. So here it is…  Should God so move you to participate in this way here’s a link in how to give: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/donate

Today I am busy today finalizing details for our upcoming leadership retreat this Saturday. This is specifically for our core group, committee chairs and those representing their churches. If you are part of a local church in Pasadena and would like to become more involved, please contact me or Bert Newton, bert@makinghousinghappen.com

We can’t thank you enough for your part in making housing justice happen!

With Joy in this amazing journey, Jill Shook

Happy New Year! 

the kids go marching

 

 

 

Affordable Housing Rock Stars of 2019!

11 Dec

During MHCH’s “Affordable Housing Rocks” celebration in November, 2019, we gave Rock Star Awards to the following individuals:

Phil Burns:  Phil has been part of GPAHG for years, especially in helping to do research for ADUs-by creating a comparative analysis of streets with many ADU to adjacent streets with no ADUs (looking at crime, traffic, parking, property values, visibility). This year he has again jumped into housing justice work with his whole heart, mind and soul to ensure that GPAHG had solid research so that we could advocate for 20% or even 25% set aside for our inclusionary policy. He not only attended our weekly inclusionary meetings, he also met with key city staff and elected leaders to share this research.  God was stirring in his heart as well as in Jill’s heart to start a Church Land Committee, whereby churches may consider building affordable housing on their property. He has shown superb leadership and today chairs that committee. This team (Andre White-a Harvard trained affordable housing developer, Hugh Martinez, with 16 years of affordable housing development experiences, Cynthia Kurtz, an ex-city manager for Pasadena and John Oh-a pastor who now works with LA Voice also seeking find churches interested in building affordable housing on church land) has already has met with a number of interested churches to begin this discussion, and determine what is feasible on their land and to help them to walk down the path of building affordable housing on their property should God so lead.

Dan Davidson. Pastor Dan, of the Rose City Church, has been very faithful in his role as chair of Pasadena’s Partnership to End Homelessness Faith Community Committee and has encouraged people to embrace advocacy along with providing services. He has been extremely supportive of GPAHG and has spoken at several Housing Justice Institutes on the best practices to end homelessness. He understands the value of the Housing First model, and why permanent supportive housing is what ends homelessness.

Teresa Eilers: In her short time working with Everyone In (United Way) has already shown a tremendous understanding of housing justice and how to be an effective organizer. With love and great talent, she has connected with the key players and elected leaders in the San Gabriel Valley. She has helped to organize successful events such as the Homeless to Housed Bus Tours. In addition to being a superb organizer, she is a good listener and an articulate speaker.

Blair Miller:  Blair is a tireless affordable housing developer and advocateShe consistently shows up at the City Council and now serves on the Planning Commission, always supporting policies and zoning needed to make affordable housing happen. She came up with the idea of continuing our past efforts of hosting Homeless to Housed bus tours, which help to dispelling myths about affordable housing, by enabling key leaders to get inside beautiful affordable housing, see how it transforms communities and lives. This year she helped she created a team to plan two more highly successful Homeless to Housed Bus Tour.  In recent years, she also played a very significant role in our efforts on North Fair Oaks by deploying a team to create focus groups, who helped to identifying specific things like cross walks, signage, fixing broken sidewalks and “Complete Streets” plan to slow traffic—and how to get these things done.

 Anne Marie Molina. She was homeless as a teen. Today she is married, with five children and dealing with a life-threatening disease. Her commitment to housing justice goes back to when she helped to save hundreds of people from foreclosure by giving them home loan modifications. When she decided to build an ADU for her motherinlaw(a granny flat for granny) she turned a challenging situation into an opportunity to help others. She joined GPAHG and began to learn how to be an advocate. She has involved her family, including her daughter Lili, in housing justice work. She has created a team to learn all they could about ADUs, how to create a prototype to lower the cost and streamline the application process.  She and her team have become involved in advocacy at the local and state level. She has truly become a housing justice rock star.

Liliana Molina. At age 15 she has demonstrated commitment and leadership beyond her years, advocating for housing justice at the City Council, meeting with elected officials, and involving her friends in this work. She has served as an assistant to Jill and as an intern in the Pasadena Housing Department. She recently started an Advocacy Club at her school.

The power of showing up!! Our Mission Door Christmas Letter…..

8 Dec

Dear Friends, 

Julia Morgan Y vigil pictureJesus showed up at just the right time and place.  He was born in extreme poverty in the most unlikely place for a king to be born, a place unfit for human habitation—like so many of our homeless neighbors.

In our housing justice ministry, we are showing up and seeing powerful results. So far, 135 homeless housing units have been approved in the past 12 months and we expect a development of 94 units to be approved in the Civic Center—half for chronic homeless neighbors and half for low-income families. [i]  To gain approvals for these 94 units, those experiencing homelessness have joined our weekly prayer vigils and have found their voice by telling their story to City Council members, those who have the power to approve affordable housing. Professionals like Sonja Berndt, a retired DA, a committed Christian, are also showing up at our vigils. Sonja has found her purpose by joining our efforts to end homelessness. We follow the example of the Early Church that ended poverty among them in Acts 4:34.

At our “Affordable Housing Rocks!” event on Oct. 26th, we honored Phil Burns, another professional.  Having served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Phil is bilingual in English and Spanish, and he leads children and youth ministry at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.  I met Phil years ago when he joined our team to make it possible to again build granny flats in our back yards—which today, thankfully, are legal anywhere in CA. In fact, you can build one inside your home as well as one detached, or you can convert your garage or build one over your garage. AARP calls this “aging in place” by making space for a care giver… which I may need one day!

Phil BurnsThis year Phil showed up again, at just the right time to serve on a different committee—joining our inclusionary housing team. Using his professional skills as an urban planner, he demonstrated that market rate housing developers would still have a fair return of 10-12% if they set aside 20% of their residential units to be affordable. This research changed the hearts and minds of our City Council members, bringing a unanimous vote! This one policy has produced 577 affordable units embedded in high end housing throughout the city. Now with the increase from 15% to 20% of all new units required to be affordable, many more affordable units will be produced!

For Phil, the power of showing up didn’t stop with his involvement with granny flats and inclusionary housing.  With our severe affordable housing crisis, and few available sites for building new affordable units, God was stirring in Phil’s heart as well as mine to start a Church Land Committee, whereby churches with excess land might build affordable housing on their property. Phil has shown superb leadership and today chairs that committee, with seven churches already showing interest. We meet in Phil’s office in Old Pasadena (which by the way his firm planned along with Pasadena’s Civic Center and the Playhouse District). This team is helping churches to determine what is feasible on their land, enabling them to walk down the path of discernment with a goal of finding the right affordable housing development partner based on what they envision.

I’m sure you can see why we chose Phil as one of our Affordable Housing Rock Stars to be honored this year! Along with Andre White, a Harvard-trained affordable housing developer, Phil is working pro bono, freely doing professional work with land use, zoning maps, feasibility and more. They both feel a sense of calling, trusting that God will provide. We have submitted a grant with LA county for $200.000 and would like for you to pray with us that this will be funded.

In 2020, I need to focus more on my health, and capitalize on my areas of strength. I’m still on maintenance treatments for my cancer (In April scans showed that I’m clear!!! Thank you, Jesus!!) Therefore, we are looking to write a grant to hire a program director to lead much of our local efforts so I can reach out to other communities. We’re taking what we’ve learned in Pasadena and sharing it with other cities via our Housing Justice One-Day Institutes. We have done eight institutes, primarily in cities in Colorado. In these institutes we discuss a theology of land use, a theology of advocacy, what it takes to end homelessness, gain approvals and much more. Presently we are planning an institute for the city of LA—where 36,000 homeless people were counted in 2019. Feeling intimidated by the vast need, and size of LA, I know that only God can give us the wisdom and courage to plan such an event as well as the insight needed to craft a grant for a program coordinator.  Please pray!

Your on-going gifts have kept me from needing to take a salary from the nonprofit we have started, for which I can’t thank you enough. So please continue to support this ministry and pray for the resources and wisdom needed as we seek to follow God’s lead. At our Oct 26 event we raised $5,000. Our goal by Jan 1st is to raise $10,000. This will help us maintain our present staff, Morgan Duff-Tucker, our Office Assistant, and Bert Newton, our Liaison Church Coordinator.

Our Mission is to equip congregations, community leaders, and neighbors with practical tools needed to do housing justice. I believe God has raised us up at the right time to help mobilize people of faith to realize the power they have by showing up in the right place with the right message to address this urgent need. I’m humbled when I think of all that God is doing. This could not happen without your support.

Family update:

mamcita christmasAt Thanksgiving we showed up for my dear Mom (whom we call “Mamacita.”) At 89, with diminished memory, she still shows up fully present, with the love of Christ shining through her. Around the Thanksgiving table she looked each of us in the eye, calling each of us by name: my sister Jana and her husband Dwight and their daughter Sarah and me and Anthony, with her arms lifted toward each of us, proclaiming her love for Jesus and for each one of us, saying, “I love you, love you, love you!!” Even now I can feel the power of this moment in my soul. We are deeply moved and humbled her grace, forgiveness and genuine love.  I’m so grateful to have such a beautiful role model.  

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, may we all seek to follow Jesus as our role model, who demonstrated unrelenting love.

With a grateful heart of joy,              Jill

To contribute to Jill Shook’s support with Missions Door you can also contribute several ways, on line: https://www.missionsdoor.org/missionary/shook-jill/ or  send checks to Missions Door, 2530 Washington Street,  Denver, CO 80205. Or call to set up a credit card or direct deposit 303-308-1818

To give to our nonprofit you can contribute online: https://makinghousinghappen.wedid.it/ or send checks made out to “Social Good Fund” with “Making Housing and Community Happen” in memo line to:

Social Good Fund, PO Box 5473,  Richmond, CA 94805-4021

Jill Shook, jill@makinghousinghappen.com  (626)675-1316.

Website: www.makinghousinghappen.org

[i] We have lowered Pasadena’s homeless count from 1,216 in 2011 to 530 in 2016, a 54% decrease. In 2019, Pasadena had a 20% decrease, whereas most of LA county had a 16% to 24% increase.

 

Potluck time! Join us Nov. 26, 2019. What would you like to ask those running for City Council? What housing issues do you think need to be addressed?

14 Nov

See  flyer below and let us know if you can join us, 6:30pm. 520 E. Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104. Hope to see you if you are in the area! Jill Nov 26th, 2019 GPAHG potluck

Thanks to all who came!! And four affordable housing wins last week!!

14 Nov

Housing for all

What a party!! Thanks to all who came and donated to make our “Affordable Housing Rocks!” Nov. 2nd event a success. Over 130 people attended and we raised about $5,000. A church in San Marion will be donating  another $1,000! if you would like to help us reach our goal of $10,000 here’s a link you can use to donate:  Donate

Please enjoy pictures of the event here: Photos from Affordable Housing Rocks!

One the heals of our Saturday event, we spent Sunday rallying the troops to join us to for five affordable housing actions last week. Learn about our wins!

  1. On Monday Nov. 3 in partnership with Pasadena’s Tenant Union, we won a moratorium on all evictions in Pasadena without a just cause. CA has followed Oregon on a rent gouging bill, but it doesn’t go into effect until Jan 1st and in the meantime landlords have been evicting. I’m so proud of our city for passing this. We had a least 150 folks out articulating their stories of being evicted for no good reason after faithfully paying rent for 20 or more years.   It was clever and impressive how the city had two city council meetings back to back, the 2nd one at 12:01 so that they could do the 2nd reading of this new ordinance on a separate day as required by law, so it would go into effect last Thursday. See: Pasadena Now

2.  That same Monday night, we also had the final reading of our updated Inclusionary policy (which has produced 577 affordable units at no cost to the city, with units embedded into high-end developments and indistinguishable from luxury apartments). This updated policy will now cause all developers to supply 20% of all new housing to be affordable, or pay an increased fee, which will go into our affordable housing trust fund (which has been highly productive—690 more affordable units have been leveraged from this fund)  and other significant changes like ending all trade downs (a policy that will lead the way for many other cities to produce more affordable housing).  Our inclusionary team met for 1.5 years and did a stellar job culminating last Monday! Folks from Alhambra and San Gabriel were on our team to learn how we do research and advocacy, this concept is now spreading. Now even South Pas is now wanting inclusionary housing!-so amazing!  See Pasadena’s new policy: Updated Inclusionary Policy

3. Additionally that evening, we also were able to assure that an affordable housing developer that is proposing 94 units—half for homeless and half for families—is now among the top 5 contenders for consideration for Pasadena’s Civic Center and the YWCA designed by Julia Morgan—who designed the Hearst Castle. We now have our work cut out for us to assure that this proposal by National Core wins. We have had prayer vigils lead by different churches d every Monday on that site for about 3 months. After we pray we walk into the City Council next door and testify on why this is a good proposal. See link to National Core: National Core

4.  We were able to testify at the llth hour that evening as to why an over-concentration policy need to be changed so as to make a path for more affordable housing to be built in NW Pasadena–historically a lower income part of Pasadena now quite gentrified. See Staff Report on over-consentration

5. On Wednesday at the Planning Commission, we able to get the land use designation for a property close to PCC changed from a hotel use to a possible use for student affordable housing. This was the 2nd time we have showed up about this site. It was not an easy win—so glad for partners like Unite Here and LA Voice to help this time around. There is funding for all kind of affordable housing—family, AIDS, homeless, seniors, special needs—but not for homeless students. So we are praying for this site to somehow, by the grace of God, be used to help some of the 19% of all Pasadena City College students that have experienced homelessness.

Again, enjoy a few photos from our Affordable Housing Rock! event: Fun Photos with captions from Affordable Housing Rocks!

Donate here to reach our goal: Donate

More to come!!

With joy,

Jill Shook, Missions Door, Catalyst, Executive Director, Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH)

http://www.missionsdoor.org/missionaries/shook-jill

Doctor of Ministry, Bakke Graduate School

Blog: makinghousinghappen.net  Websites: www.makinghousinghappen.org and makinghousinghappen.com

Author/Editor: Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Models

Jill@ makinghousinghappen.com   Phone: 626) 675-1316

 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING ROCKS!! Please join us this Saturday, Nov.2nd, 3-6 pm! We are celebrating this year’s successes and our first year anniversary as a nonprofit.

29 Oct

Here’s a link to learn more and get your ticket: Affordable Housing Rocks!

And here is the link to volunteer to help with the party on Saturday: Sign up to volunteer

Here’s an exciting update about three housing justice successes at the City Council last night and an invite to come on Saturday: Three great housing justice successes last night and an invite

A taste of the fabulous music we will enjoy on Saturday–JPL Scientist who are accomplished musicians: Big Band Theory 

IMG_3940

How Our Family Came to Have Housing Stability in Pasadena by Morgan Duff Tucker

5 Sep

Besides being the Office Assistant for Making Housing & Community Happen and a lover of Spongebob Squarepants, I am a Pasadena native through and through. It’s one of the things that defines me. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood, on the same block, in the same house since I was three-years-old. I like to think I have a great relationship with my house. I love it and it’s been good to me. However, as with all great relationships, it helps to take a step back every now and again to consider that the other person (or in this case house)  lived a full and interesting life before I came along. When Jill asked me to write my “housing story” I was intrigued by the prospect of digging into my home’s past. I immediately set up an unofficial interview with my mom to get the inside scoop on how we came to own our home. I thought I already knew the story, but in reality I had no idea. What I learned left me surprised and deeply humbled by God’s grace, and how the Love of Christ motivated one special woman to come alongside my family in an amazing way.

Morgan Tucker - Photo

Me – Morgan Duff Tucker

My Housing Story by Morgan Duff Tucker

My housing story began before I was born. In the summer of 1987, my parents packed their car to the brim with everything they owned, and kissed New Jersey goodbye. They were young, in love, and excited to get away from their family, who had a funny habit of over involving themselves in my parent’s lives. After a week of driving, my mom and dad made it to California. Shortly after, they moved into a rundown apartment in Hollywood. They had big dreams, but very little money. Four years later, I was born, and I’m told the money situation got worse. To top it off, by that time, my grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, his wife and his baby had all decided to leave New Jersey, and follow my parents to California where they once again became overly involved in their lives. Old habits die hard.

At one point, we all rented a cramped, little two-bedroom house together. Although it was a roof over our head, it wasn’t enough space for three, growing families. Our living arrangements had to change, and that’s where my mom came in. She had always dreamed of owning a home before she was thirty, and if she was going to meet that goal, she only had a couple of years left. Unfortunately, my parent’s finances were a mess, and they didn’t know the first thing about becoming homebuyers. It was around that time when my mom was hired to work for Sandra Knox. Sandra was the executive director of Pasadena Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS). She was an amazing woman, and a tireless advocate for the underrepresented in her community. I eventually came to know her as the lady who gave me M&Ms, and who always left toys around the office for me to play with. Sandra Knox equipped my mom with the knowledge and skills she needed to find a suitable house for us, and coached her every step of the way. It was a long, and arduous process, but in 1994, when I was three-years-old, we moved into our home at 830 N. Pasadena ave.

From that point on, I can speak about my housing story from my own experience. Overall, it’s been characterized by peace and security. My extended family eventually followed us to our new home, and we finally had the space to welcome them with open arms. My grandpa, a talented carpenter, even converted the garage on our property into an ADU. Over the years, many of my relatives have used that ADU as a starter home, and now it’s the home I share with my husband. There have been many struggles since my parents bought our home, but as of today, we expect the house to be fully paid off by 2021. As I reflect on my housing story, I am grateful to God for inspiring Sandra Knox, and others who share her spirit of coming alongside those in need of a home. I’m happy to be a part of GPAHG today because I know this organization has that same spirit. I’m excited to enter the next chapter of my housing story, and pray I will continue to have opportunities to be a blessing to others, as others have been a blessing to me.

ReplyForward
%d bloggers like this: