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Groundbreaking  Heritage Square South: The Role of Faith Communities

14 Jul

By Anthony Manousos, Co-Founder and Making Housing and Community Happen

grondbreaking

A month ago, on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove, bulldozers demolished Church’s Chicken, which had leased this city-owned property for many years. Over a decade ago, this site was purchased with HUD funding for affordable housing. Last week, on July 5, the official groundbreaking took place at this site for a project that will provide 70 units of permanent supportive housing for unhoused seniors, who are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

This event took place at Heritage Square North (which provides 69 units of affordable senior housing). Among those present were Mayor Victor Gordo, Council member John Kennedy, Assembly member Chris Holden, Congressional Representative Judy Chu, LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Pasadena Housing Director Bill Huang, and Ann Slaby and Ken Lombard of Bridge Housing (developers for this project).

Mayor Gordo explained that this project was a “long time in the making” and congratulated those who made it possible, including Assembly member Chris Holden and Council member John Kennedy (in whose district this project is located).

“This is an auspicious occasion,” said Councilmember Kennedy, “Your presence this morning, represents in part all that is good in Pasadena….We had a vision and the vision wasn’t John Kennedy’s vision. It was Chris [Holden’s] vision. It was Councilmember Gordo’s vision, now, Mayor Gordo. Some of you in this room today had a vision, have a vision, to make life better for the ‘least of these’ in our community.”

Anne Miskey, CEO of Union Station, which will provide the services for those housed in this project, explained what it takes to end chronic homelessness:

“It’s about connection. It’s about human beings connecting with one another. Look around this room. It’s about all of the connections that we’ve made with our elected officials locally at the county at the state and federal level. It is about working with our housing department and our planning department. And I gotta tell you, the staff at the City of Pasadena, we love you folks who are wonderful to work with.”

Housing Director Bill Huang explained why housing homeless seniors is so important. “Every civilized and compassionate society at least takes care of seniors, its children and its disabled persons. And, you know, seniors are having an incredibly difficult time; seniors on fixed incomes are unable to keep up with rising rents. The average social security payment is currently four to five hundred dollars less than the average one bedroom apartment here in Northwest Pasadena. So it’s no surprise that senior homelessness is a growing chronic issue in the entire region, including here in Pasadena.”

Bill Huang graciously thanked his colleagues (Ann Lansing, Jim Wong and Randy Jones), Acting City Manager Cynthia Kurtz, the City Council (which voted unanimously for this project in 2018), and also the “advocates” who “prayed and pushed and even camped out” for this project.

I am grateful that Bill Huang and also to the Mayor acknowledged the role that we advocates play in making affordable housing happen in our city. When our Housing Director spoke of “camping out,” he was alluding to the time when I slept outdoors on the sidewalk next to the site of Heritage Square South with a couple of my fellow advocates to experience what it’s like to sleep outdoors. It was noisy and uncomfortable, but also eye-opening. At 3:00 am I got up, unable to sleep, and saw two elderly African American women in the parking lot, resting on beach lounge chairs, with just a thin blanket to protect them from the cold night air. It broke my heart to see them. It also strengthened my resolve to make sure that every unhoused person in our city has a decent, affordable place to live.

My wife Jill Shook and I founded Making Housing and Community Happen to advocate for those who are unhoused and low-income in our city because we feel that’s what our faith requires us to do. We are told to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute…. defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 32: 8-9). Jesus said his mission was to “proclaim good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18). Our organization’s mission is to “equip congregations, community leaders, and neighbors with practical tools needed to transform their communities to end homelessness, and to stabilize the cost of housing through education, advocacy, organizing, and advisement.”

The faith community has played an important tole advocating for affordable housing at Heritage Square South and other parts of our city. Some churches also want to address the housing crisis by having affordable housing built on their underutilized land, but cannot do so because of zoning restrictions. That’s why we have been advocating for a zoning change in Pasadena that would enable these churches to have affordable housing built on their property. We are grateful that the City Council is willing to consider this policy. We will be urging them to adopt a policy that will work. To learn more go to makinghousinghappen.org/events.

Jill and I were honored to be invited to this groundbreaking. It was inspiring to see our community come together—public officials, service providers, affordable housing developers, bankers, community and religious leaders, and advocates. As Anne Miskey reminded us, that’s what ends homelessness: all of us connecting and working together to fulfill our city’s beautiful vision, as expressed in Pasadena’s Housing Element:

“All Pasadena residents have an equal right 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.”

It is up to us, with God’s help, to make this vision a reality.

To see a video of Groundbreaking, click here.

Tell our city officials that we need a policy to rezone religious land for affordable housing that works!

16 Jun

The need for high quality affordable housing in Pasadena is desperate, as our Mayor has stated. Please write to the City Council and let them know that you support the MHCH proposal to rezone affordable housing on religious property, not the one proposed by city staff (see below). Write  correspondence@cityofpasadena.net .

Please feel free to include any of the talking points included in the Fact Sheet below along with why you feel strongly that our city needs more affordable housing. You can also use a letter template and talking points that can be found when you CLICK HERE.

To learn how you can be an effective advocate for this policy, you’re invited to a meeting and free meal (provided by our ally POP!) on Tuesday, July 5, 2022,  5:00 – 7:00 pm at the Orange Grove Friends (Quaker) Meetinghouse, 520 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104. Please rsvp anthony@makinghousinghappen.org. This policy will come up for a vote on Monday, July 11th. It’s critically important to have as many speakers as possible during this Council meeting!

FACT SHEET FOR REZONING RELIGIOUS LAND: PDF VERSION  or scroll down for Fact Sheet in digital format.

1.              Pasadena’s Planning Department is proposing a zoning amendment that is supposed to allow affordable housing on congregational and, but it does not allow interested churches to do so. What is being proposed?

  1. The Pasadena Planning Department is recommending a zoning amendment that would rezone congregational land in commercial and public/semipublic zones (large properties) for residential use at 32 dwelling units/acre (du/a) with the development standards of the least restrictive adjacent zone. Research by The Arroyo Group shows that only three additional churches would be able to build affordable housing. Yet, none of these churches have expressed interest in affordable housing on their property.[1]
  2. What would it take to make this proposed policy work?

First, it would take just four more dwelling units per acre, from 32 du/a to 36 du/a. According to David Reyes, head of the Planning Department, adding just four more units per acre is “no big deal.” Second, it would still take adjusting the proposed development standards to the least restrictive adjacent zoning development standards but to development standards no less than the standards that accompany a 32 du/a designation.   With this adjusted proposal, of the ten churches in Pasadena that have expressed interest, at least three will be helped, but with the Planning Department’s proposal none of these three will be able to provide affordable housing, according to the Arroyo Group.[2]

  1. Are other cities doing this?

Seattle, Sierra Madre and Yorba Linda have rezoned religious property for affordable housing. At least ten other So Cal cities (including Los Angeles) have placed rezoning religious property for affordable housing in their housing element and some are in the process of creating an ordinance.

  1. Will affordable housing be built-in single-family neighborhoods?

No, this policy applies only to PS zoned religious institutions and commercial zones, which are on major corridors.  What The Arroyo Group and Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH) propose is a modest policy that will help only a few congregations wishing to build affordable housing.

  1. What is the problem that we are seeking to address with this proposed zoning change?

The need for high quality affordable housing is desperate, as Mayor Gordo has stated. According the 2021 Homeless Count, 512 people in Pasadena are experiencing homelessness, According to the California Council of Government’s report, over 7,000 Pasadena renter households earn less than $35,000/year and 70% of them pay more than half their income on rent. They are at risk of eviction and homelessness, as evidenced by the soaring demand for rental assistance reported by Friends In Deed. Over 700 PUSD students are considered homeless. The state has mandated that our city plan for 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next eight years. This rezoning policy, if properly crafted, could result in hundreds of affordable units to help meet this goal.

  1. Why is this only for religious property?

Exploring rezoning other institutional land for nonprofits like schools and hospitals is a worthy goal. But so far none have expressed interest, while many churches have. It took two years to research, create, and move forward a policy that would support religious properties. If other institutions are considered, it would needlessly delay rezoning religious land, and much needed units. Some churches are ready to move forward once zoning is changed. This policy would serve to undo years segregation by allowing beautiful affordable developments throughout the city. Congregations see this as a way to be better stewards of their land, which is often vacant most of the week. Furthermore, congregations already serve lower income residents with food pantries, housing homeless families in their building through the Bad Weather Shelter and Family Promise and helping in many other ways. Historically, religious groups have built hospitals, schools, and retirement communities. It is a consistent with their mission for them to supply housing for the community.

  1. Are there examples of how this development can be done?

There are plenty of recent examples of partnerships between congregations and affordable housing developers. Wesley Village in Garden Grove is one successful example of 100% affordable senior and family housing involving Garden Grove United Methodist Church and Jamboree Housing. The church entered a 60-year ground lease turning 2.2 acres of parking space into housing and offices that provide services for both residents and the community.

  1. Can this help Pasadena meet state requirements for new housing?

Yes, but only if the zoning is tweaked to 36 du/a with the development standards that accompany a 32 du/a designation. Otherwise, it is unlikely that any new housing will be produced.

  1. Who will benefit from the affordable housing development?

Congregations that have affordable or homeless housing units built with the support or sponsorship of the City must prioritize those who live and/or work in Pasadena as well as set side 20% of units for those who have been displaced in the past 10 years. Businesses benefit when our homeless neighbors are housed. Teachers, police, health professional and the environment all benefit when people can afford to live close to their work. The city also has significant economic benefit. Affordable housing brings millions of dollars of outside investment to Pasadena. Furthermore, our city requires that 20% of workers, 20% of contractors and 20% of materials be local. The 69 units at Heritage Square North brought in over 6 million in local investments from this 20-20-20 rule.

  1. What if a congregation moves or closes?

Congregations are reluctant to close their doors unless absolutely necessary. Those that must close usually prefer to leave affordable housing behind as their last act of service to the community. If that happens, covenants will ensure that the development remains affordable for 55 years or more.

  1. What happens if this policy isn’t passed, or if a policy passes that won’t work?

When churches go out of business and have no other options, they often end up selling their property to market rate developers. Churches will lose an opportunity to “finish well” by benefiting the community and Pasadena will lose an opportunity to have affordable housing built on.

[1] Urban planner Phil Burns of The Arroyo Group, with help from Max Ogden of Cal Tech, did this research. Phil Burns has spent the last two years researching religious properties in Pasadena and advising congregations throughout Southern California on how to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land. He is part of the MHCH Congregational Land Committee which consists of affordable an housing developer, a financial adviser for affordable housing, and other experts in this field.

Affordable Housing Update for June 10th: Educating and Advocating for the Beloved Community

10 Jun

From June 10th, 2022

This month’s Housing Justice Forum will be on Tuesday, June 28th from 7-8:30pm on Zoom. We will be discussing Rezoning Religious Land in preparation for the July 11th Pasadena City Council meeting. We’ll be hosting Daniel Murillo, Policy and Equitable Development Manager to the city of Seattle, and Donald King, President and CEO of Nehemiah Initiative Seattle. We will seek to answer the question “if Seattle can rezone religious land for housing, why not Pasadena?” To register, click here.

To donate to our summer “Breaking New Ground” campaign, click here. We have reached 37% of our goal, and have begun to have Housing Justice informational home parties. If you’re interested in hosting, please contact Anthony Manousos at anthony@makinghousinghappen.org

“If Seattle Can Rezone Religious Land for Housing, Why Not Pasadena?”

8 Jun

 

Join our Making Housing & Community Happen Webinar to learn how Seattle rezoned religious land for affordable housing and how black churches led this effort. (And how we can make this happen in Pasadena!)

 When: Tuesday, June 28, 2022

7:00 pm

Religious Land image for blog

 Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwuf-GoqDIoGtwC7Tm1mNMUnNtYfo0w0Khq 

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

Speakers:

  • Nick WelchSenior Planner at Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development,nicolaswelch will discuss how his city rezoned religious property for affordable housing. Nick focuses on strategies to address displacement and led Seattle’s efforts to expand the production of ADUs. Nick also wrote legislation to facilitate affordable housing on faith-owned and was instrumental in bringing a focus on racial and social equity into Seattle’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan by developing the Growth and Equity Analysis. Nick has a master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.
  • Donald King, Donald King,  FAIA, President/CEO of Nehemiah Initiative Seattle. His organizationDonald King helped to pass this rezoning measure and is helping churches become ready to build affordable housing. Architect, planner and educator with over 50 years of professional experience in the planning and design of community projects. Donald King has a Master of Architecture degree from UCLA, has been a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects since 2000, and is currently an Affiliate Professor of Architecture in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington. experience in the planning and design of community projects. Donald King has a Master of Architecture degree from UCLA and is licensed to practice architecture in California, Hawaii and Washington. He has been a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects since 2000 and is currently an Affiliate Professor of Architecture in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington.

This webinar will help prepare us for the July 11th City Council meeting when this item will be considered.

There will be a follow-up in-person meeting and free meal (compliments of POP!) on July 5, 2022,  5:00 – 7:00 pm at the Orange Grove Friends (Quaker) Meetinghouse, 520 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104. We will prepare ourselves to be effective speakers.

Affordable Housing Update for June 3rd: Momentum Builds for Affordable Housing

4 Jun

From June 3rd, 2022

This past week we hosted our first ever Bilingual Housing Justice Forum in partnership with the Pasadena Community Job Center. Ryan Bell, Mario Morales, and more spoke on “Las Viviendas a Precios Justos.” The whole event was recorded- click here to watch!

Next Month’s Housing Justice Forum will be on Tuesday, June 28th from 7-8:30pm on Zoom. We will be discussing Rezoning Religious Land in preparation for the July 11th Pasadena City Council meeting. We’ll be hosting Daniel Murillo, Policy and Equitable Development Manager to the city of Seattle, as he shares how his city rezoned religious land for affordable housing. To register, click here.

To donate to our summer “Breaking New Ground” campaign, click here.

Affordable Housing Update for May 27th: Rezoning Religious Land Update

30 May

From May 27th, 2022

Pasadena’s City Council has postponed the agenda item “Rezoning Religious Land for Affordable Housing” to July 11th. While this is a disappointment, it’s also been a blessing in disguise. Our biggest supporter on the council, John Kennedy, wasn’t able to make it to the meeting last week. His presence will be so wonderful to have in July. Also, we were able to hear the position people who oppose the zoning amendment, and we can properly address all concerns. As Dr. King often quoted, we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. Click here to read more!

We are hosting our first ever Bilingual Housing Justice Forum tomorrow on Tuesday, May 31st! Come see Ryan Bell, Mario Morales, and more speak on “Las Viviendas a Precios Justos.” Click here to read more!

And to donate to our summer “Breaking New Ground” campaign, click here.

Join us for our May 31 Housing Justice Forum on Rent Control and Community Transformation in Spanish and English with music!

24 May

NDALON FLYER Spanish and English final May 241024_2

NDALON FLYER Spanish and English final May 241024_1

 

Affordable Housing Update for May 20th: A Call to be Persistent, Passionate, and Prophetic

23 May

From May 20th, 2022

Pasadena’s City Council has “Rezoning Religious Land for Affordable Housing” on their agenda this Monday, May 23rd, and we urge you to contact your councilmembers in support of this proposal! The Planning Commission recommendations are not workable BUT a few small tweaks is all that is needed to optimize the effectiveness of the proposal. Please show the Council your full support and see here for a template and talking points.

We are hosting our first ever Bilingual Housing Justice Forum next week! On Tuesday, May 31st, come see Ryan Bell, Mario Morales, and more speak on “Las Viviendas a Precios Justos.” Click here to read more!

And to donate to our summer “Breaking New Ground” campaign, click here.

Tell the Pasadena City Council you want churches to have a chance to build affordable housing!

18 May
Rezoning Congregational Land for affordable housing is coming up on the Pasadena City Council agenda on Monday, July 18. Your support is urgently needed! Ten churches in Pasadena have expressed interest in having affordable housing built on the underutilized land but can’t do it because of zoning. The Planning Department is making recommendations to the Council that would enable only three churches to have affordable housing built on their land, none of which have expressed interest.. We need convince the City Council to increase the number of units permitted per acre from 32 to 36 and to use  development standard for 32 dwelling units/acre zones. This modest proposal which add 7 more churches, at least two of which have expressed interest. This would result in over 100 units being built.
Please write them or speak out at the City Council meeting on Monday, July 18. You can write to them at correspondence@cityofpasadena.net.
Here’s template with 21 talking points that you can choose from:
 
Dear Mayor and City Council members,
 
Thank you for considering the proposal to rezone congregational land for affordable housing. I am writing to urge you not to support the staff recommendations, but to increase the dwelling units per acre from 32 to 36 and adjust the proposed development standards to no less than 32 dwelling units per acre
 
[Give your background and a sentence about why you care about housing our low-income and homeless neighbors. Stress your connection to Pasadena, i.e. if you live, work or worship here. If you live here, please mention your district and Council member.]
Thanking public officials is always a good approach. If your Council member has done something you support, thank him or her, or else thank the Council as a whole. For example, Jess Rivas supports rent control. John Kennedy has been a champion of affordable housing. You can also thank the Mayor for appointing a Housing Task Force and expressing concern for affordable housing. The Council unanimously supported affordable housing at Heritage Square South and the Civic Center. You can thank them for supporting these projects. They liked being appreciated and are more likely to listen to you when you are friendly. We want to win their hearts as well as their minds.
Use this talking point:
I urge you to adopt a zoning policy that will work to allow congregations to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land. The staff recommends zone changes only for commercial and public/semi-public zones, which excludes most congregations in our city. Please make sure that you pass an ordinance that works by increasing the number of units per acre from 32 to 36, only four additional units. 
Then pick one of these points and either copy-and-paste or rephrase in your own words:
  1. The need for affordable housing is “desperate,” as Mayor Gordo has pointed out. Soaring housing costs are driving low-income residents, especially people of color, out of our city. Even middle-class people can’t afford Pasadena’s spiraling rents or median home price, which is now over one million dollars. Allowing congregations to address this crisis is in keeping with the city’s mission: “All Pasadena residents have an equal right 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.” Allowing congregations to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land will help the city meet its state-mandated goal of 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next eight years
  1. I support rezoning congregational land because churches are ideal sites for affordable housing. There are many congregations already involved in helping homeless and low-income individuals with food, clothing, and other services. Some of these congregations have large parking lots that are underutilized during the week. Let’s give congregations a chance to bless our community not only with food, but also with much needed affordable housing so we can continue to see our homeless count drop.
  1. I urge you to support rezoning religious property for affordable housing because it will spread affordable housing throughout the city, thereby affirmatively furthering fair housing—a state-mandated goal seeking to undo policies that led to racial segregation and other inequities in our city. Our city has a deplorable history of racist housing policies, so I urge to make sure that churches throughout the city, but especially in the N. Fair Oaks area south of city border are zoned to allow several interested churches to accomplish their dream to provide affordable housing on their property. This will serve to provide much needed housing and revitalize this part of the city.
  1. I support the religious zoning armament for many reasons but one reason is because affordable housing brings millions of dollars of outside investment into our community and it’ also serves to generate additional local investment dollars into our city because of the Pasadena 20/20/20 rule: 20% of those who build the housing are to be local contractors, 20% of workers are local, and 20% of materials must be local. This one policy generated $6,000,000 on the N. Heritage Square project.
  1. I support allowing congregations to have affordable housing built on their property since Pasadena residents will be the main beneficiaries. Pasadena’s local preference policy prioritizes those who live and work in Pasadena. This lower driving time, addresses climate goals and builds a strong community. 
  1. I appreciate the historic character of our city and our commitment to historic preservation. I support this policy since historic churches will not be negatively impacted but given new life that benefits the community. Current laws (i.e. California’s Historic Preservation policy) protect historic churches. They cannot be demolished or affected without Council approval. Historic churches can be adaptively reused to ensure that they are preserved and useful.
  1. I am concerned that if this policy isn’t passed, when churches may close and they may be tempted to sell their property to market rate developers, since they cannot make the numbers work for affordable housing to happen. We have schoolteachers, firemen, teacher aids, small business owners and their employees all in need of homes they can afford. We have exceeded our goals in the city for market rate housing. We don’t need more. We cannot lose the opportunity to have affordable housing built on these sites. Over 4,000 churches in the US closing each year, market rate developers are seeking out church properties in hopes of making a profit. If we give churches a chance to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land, they are less likely to close and sell their property to a market rate developer.
  1. I encourage you to pass an ordinance that will help provide “desperately needed affordable, high quality, housing for all our residents” (as our Mayor described the goal of the Housing Task Force). I am asking Council to support a zoning amendment because the time to address the need for affordable housing is urgent. The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requires that Pasadena plan for 6,000 units of affordable housing to be built in the next 8 years. We have religious organizations throughout the city eager to help meet this need.
  1. Projects built on underutilized congregational land will not impact single family neighborhoods since they will be in areas that are zoned commercial or public/semi-public. A small percent of the 136 religious congregations with land will be able to take advantage of this policy.
10.  I urge you to support this zoning amendment because it will save significant time and  money needed to invest in building high quality affordable housing by providing prior certainty in permeameters of the housing—the height, bulk and density allowed. By  having more predictably for affordable housing developers, it will ensure that much needed affordable housing will be built. Additionally, by it minimizing the money, risk and time for affordable housing developers it also assures that will be built. Churches and developers cannot invest a great amount of time, money to rezone a property, (hundreds of thousands of dollars and years) with no assurance that the time and money spent will result in the right zoning for a project to pencil out.
 
11.  I believe this policy can be a big win for our city. By passing a policy that provides feasible sites that attract top affordable hosing developers because their projects can pencil out on religious property, the city can help congregations to address our city’s critical shortage of affordable housing. Ten churches have expressed interest in having affordable housing built on their underutilized land. This could result in hundreds of units of affordable housing, at no cost to the city.  It would be foolish to miss this golden opportunity.
 
12.  I support a zoning amendment that enables churches to build affordable housing because it 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. But this will not be possible if this amendment is no passed. The cost to and time (years) needed to create a zoning change on a case-by-case basis is an obstacle that most developers don’t have the time and deep pockets to do.  A citywide zoning amendment will significantly lower costs, by over a hundred thousand dollars making the deal attractive to a high-quality affordable housing developers.
 
13.  I urge you to adopt this policy because it has broad public support.   95% of churches surveyed by MHCH support a Congregational Land Zoning amendment. The Clergy Community Coalition, which comprises 76 congregations, supports this zoning amendment, as does the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition. When the Planning Department held a public zoom meeting on rezoning congregational land for affordable housing, only one person was not in support, among the hundred in attendance supported it. Please listen to the voice of your constituents!
 
14.  I support this zoning amendment because it makes good sense to allow community minded congregations that are already willing and mission-driven to become partners with the city to meet a very real need.  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 good design in keeping with the neighborhood character are of upmost importance to congregations. And when the project goes through design review will also assure that the housing is beautiful.
 
15.  I support a zoning amendment that would spread affordable housing development through the city, thereby 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.  We must recognize the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation, and base of support in the community.  A zoning amendment would help the city to go a long way toward meeting an urgent need.

 
16.

I believe that this amendment is needed because churches are struggling and are re-imagining how they can use their assets to benefit the community and their mission. Church attendance is declining and many churches are closing as a result, 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, a zoning amendment enabling churches desiring to have affordable housing on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis.

17.  I support this policy change because many churches have successfully partnered 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, so be better steward of their land and space, they are reaching out to partner. 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. Adopting an zoning amendment that would enable churches to provide affordable housing on their property would make the process more straightforward, facilitate high quality partnerships with affordable housing developers to create much-needed affordable housing.
 
18.  I support rezoning religious land for affordable housing because it is one way that the city can make right the 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. Today with the gentrification, causing significant displacement of these who were never given the opportunity to own, churches are employing out and several in Pasadena 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 curb further displacement and correct past sins.  Some African American churches are eager to provide affordable housing on their underutilized land, please allow them to do so.
 
19.  I urge you to approve a viable zoning amendment because 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 jobs and 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.
 
  1. I urge the Council to recommend predetermined standards for height and density that would allow for tax credits, the main funding source for affordable housing. This will prevent churches and developers from a long, uncertain and costly process and may not result in a zone change to make the project feasible. Few developers will take this risk, abut it took them half a million dollars and three years for a zone change before they could begin the pre-development process. We need the housing now without such delays.  This proposal will eliminate needless delays and ensure that projects are actually built.
  1. I believe that rezoning congregational land for affordable housing is a policy whose time has come. Ten other cities in Southern California are considering rezoning religious property for affordable housing, including Sierra Madre, which was the first to approve such a policy. The city of Seattle has rezoned religious property throughout the city.  They see this rezoning as a racial equity issue, as they make clear in their website: “Allowing additional density for long-term, income-restricted affordable housing on religious property helps us address Seattle’s affordability crisis and supports the many faith-based organizations eager to use their land to create homes for their low-income neighbors. When paired with the support of public funds and tools like community preference, these land use policies help address historic and ongoing inequities in housing access by supporting community-driven and community-owned development.” We feel that this zoning amendment will help address historic inequities in Pasadena as well as address gentrification and displacement of low-income residents, many of whom are people of color.

Affordable Housing Update for May 13th: Opportunities to Act Justly

16 May

From May 13th, 2022

We at MHCH take seriously the prophet Micah’s call to “act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Rezoning religious land for affordable housing is on Pasadena’s city council agenda for May 23rd. We believe that doing acts of Justice is a form of worship, and we are urging all of our supporters to write to city council and to spread the word to other members of their congregations. If you want help with talking points, please visit this blog post by clicking here.

Our city’s homeless count reveals racial and ethnic disparities caused by systemic racism, and we are seeking to reverse that. Pasadena’s local preference policy allows people displaced in the last ten years to have a high priority for affordable housing in our city. Click here to read about Genee and what we’re doing to make this happen!

And to donate to our summer “Breaking New Ground” campaign, click here.

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