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Uniting for Housing Justice: Organizations Joining Us….

2 Dec

Organizations to be available at our Annual Celebration, “Uniting for Housing Justice”

Dec. 3rd, from 2-4:30pm. At the FUMC—First United Methodist Church.

To demonstrate unity and how it takes us all to address the complexities of housing justice the following list of organizations will be present on tables with displays at our Annual Celebration on Dec. 3rd. This is a huge opportunity for people to get to know housing resources and the people listed (Those with * are not confirmed)

Our goal is not only to ensure that affordable housing gets built, but also to build what Dr. King calls the Beloved Community. That’s why we call our nonprofit “Making Housing and Community Happen.” “Uniting for Housing Justice”—the theme of this year’s celebration, lifts up the community and partners we work with, such as LA Voice, the Pasadena Tenants Union, Foothill Unity Center, the Clergy Community Coalition, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition, and more. Together we are uniting for housing justice and making a real difference!

Affordable Housing Developers

  • Pasadena Studios (Jim Osterling) will have 180 affordable micro-units that will soon become available on Oakland down by Fuller Seminary (38 of these units can be for those who have been displaced from Pasadena in the past ten years)
  • National Core (Phil Hawkey) has just been approved to build 107 senior affordable units in the Pasadena Civic Center, right by the City Hall (10-20% will before seniors experiencing homelessness)
  • Heritage Housing Partners (Charles Loveman, ED) provides beautiful affordable homeownership. Right now, they have no availability but will in the future.
  • *Bridge Housing is building 70 units for seniors experiencing homelessness, at Heritage Square South—on the corner of Orange Grove and N. Fair Oaks)
  • *Salvation Army is close to finishing 69 units for those experiencing homelessness on the corner of Mentor and Union)

Pasadena Organizations:

  • Abundant Housing (Jake Pierce) mostly works on State housing policy.
  • Door of Hope (Troy Simpson) –provides transitional housing for homeless families with wonderful Christian Support
·        Friends-in-Deed (Ryan Greer) – has the Women’s room, Street Outreach, Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance, a food pantry, and more.
  • Greenline Housing Foundation (Jasmin Shupper, ) which helps African Americans with down payment assistance and their Housing Justice group—710 stub.
  • Harambee Center (Tina Williams) is sponsoring the 20%ers—supporting those who have been displaced in the past 10 years, to get into 20% of the new affordable units with at least five units or more in size.
  • POP! (Brandon Lamar) POP! helped with our advocacy campaigns, and especially the Housing Element
·        PTU-Pasadena Tenants Union (Ryan Bell and team) provides a hotline for tenants and lead the campaign to pass rent control!
  • Union Station (Anne Miskey, ED) provides transitional housing, advocacy and case management for those experiencing homelessness throughout cities in San Gabriel Valley
  • IMA—(Pastor John Stewart) Interdenominational Ministerial Association-the oldest assoc. of African American pastors in the greater Pasadena area

Safe Parking: 

  • Trinity Lutheran Church (Pastor Sharon Richter) hosts the program and
  • Foothill Unity Center (Tashera Taylor, ED)—provides food, case management and more

Partners working with our Congregational Land Team (CLC):

  • The Arroyo Group (Phil Burns) is a planning firm based in Old Pasadena and known for Planning Old Pasadena, the Playhouse District, and the Civic Center. They work with congregations that have come to us for land use advisement on how to have affordable housing on their underutilized land.
  • *Mitchellville (Andre White) also provides professional affordable housing advisement for congregations interested in affordable housing. Andre lives on Hilton Head Island, but works on west coast time.
  • LA Voice (Andrea Vocos)—this organization plays a key role on our Congregational Land Team with advice and funding. They do justice policy work at the county and state level.

This is a list of churches and organizations that have partnered with us in action:

¨ Ahiah Center for Spiritual Living

¨ All Saints Church

¨ Bethel Baptist Church

¨ Calvary Christian Center

¨ Clergy Community Coalition

¨ Community Church at Holliston

¨ Door of Hope

¨ Fellowship Church

¨ First AME Church

¨ First Baptist Church

¨ Friends-in-Deed

¨ Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance

¨ Knox Presbyterian Church

¨ Neighborhood Church

¨ New Abbey Church

¨ New Revelation Baptist Church

¨ Pasadena Church

¨ Pasadena Community Christian Fellowship

¨ Social Justice Committee at Pasadena Jewish Temple

¨ St. Andrew’s Catholic Church Social Justice Committee

¨ St. Elizabeth of Hungary Conference, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

¨ Throop Church

¨ Trinity Lutheran Church

¨ Trinity Presbyterian Church, Pasadena

¨ Westminster Presbyterian Church

Churches that have provided financial support

¨ Epicentre Church

¨ Kingdom Causes of Bellflower

¨ La Fuente Ministries

¨ Lincoln Avenue Christian Church

¨ New Hope Baptist Church

¨ New Life Holiness Church

¨ Orange Grove Friends Meeting

¨ Pasadena Foursquare Church

¨ Pasadena Mennonite Church

¨ The Church We Hope For

¨ San Marino United Church of Christ

¨ United Methodist Women of FUMC

Local Businesses

¨ Full Circle Thrift

¨ ​Rosebud Coffee

¨  

 

 

Restitution and Repair by Bert Newton 

1 Dec
Before and after the 710 Stub destroyed a mostly African American neighborhood
 

The City of Pasadena was given a huge gift, and we want the city to pay it forward…or maybe pay it back…I’ll explain.

The 710 freeway was originally supposed to connect with the 134 and 210 freeways, but it was never completed, leaving a “stub” comprising over 50 acres. This past summer, this whole area, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was “relinquished” from the state to the city.

According to the city website, the construction and clearing of the 710 stub area occurred “over several years in the early 1970s and displaced at least 4,000 residents and destroyed 1,500 homes. A majority of the homes were owned or rented by low income and minority residents.”

MHCH is joining a coalition of local groups to advocate for this land to be used for affordable housing and/or restitution for the people whose families were displaced.

A lot of research must be done to find out who was there and what can be done, and we will keep you posted on the developments and on opportunities for advocacy.

Please contact jill@makinghousinghappen.org if you’d like to be involved in this campaign for racial justice.

Let’s stand up for democracy and public participation in Pasadena!

25 Nov

This is a letter I am sending to the City Council regarding its decision to stop meeting via Zoom and have only in person meeting. They chose to ignore a much more democratic option, hybrid meeting, citing cost as a factor. The cost is $250,000/yr for hybrid Council meetings. To put that into perspective, that’s how much a mayoral campaign now costs in our city.

I urge everyone who cares about democracy to write to our City Council letting them know you want hybrid meetings for the reasons I describe in this letter. You can contact our Council at

vgordo@cityofpasadena.net,jerivas@cityofpasadena.net,

awilson@cityofpasadena.net,thampton@cityofpasadena.net,

smadison@cityofpasadena.net,fwilliams@cityofpasadena.net,

gmasuda@cityofpasadena.net,correspondence@cityofpasadena.net

Dear Mayor Gordo and City Council members,

Every cloud, they say, has a silver lining. As Councilmember Hampton pointed out in Monday’s City Council meeting,  one of the benefits of the COVID epidemic has been increased participation by the public in city council meetings due to Zoom meeting. Hampton also pointed out  that “the level of engagement is tremendous now compared to what it used to be. People who are at home taking care of their families can’t attend live meetings. We should allow our residents to be able to make public comments online as well as in person. This is our work to listen to what our people have to say.”

The staff report doesn’t provide data to support’s Hampton’s claim and I strongly urge the Council to seek that data so it can compare public participation before and after Zoom meetings. As someone who has regularly attended Council meetings for the last ten years, I agree with Hampton that public participation has increased dramatically since COVID. And that’s a win for democracy in our city.

Others on the Council seem to agree:

Wilson pointed out that zoom meetings make it easier for people with disabilities to participate. Madison pointed out that the “Zoom methodology is a positive development.” Jess Rivas also expressed approval for hybrid meetings.

Despite these comments, the Council went along with the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendation to go back to the status quo.  

I believe we need to move forward into the future and incorporate best practices such as Zoom meetings into our democratic process here in Pasadena.

Clearly, written comments aren’t taken as seriously as spoken comments. That’s why it’s important to give as many residents as possible a chance to speak. As Hampton noted, it’s the Council job to listen to constituents.

I urge the Council to reconsider its decision and use a hybrid approach for Council meetings and for Planning Commission meetings, where public engagement via Zoom has been robust. This would strengthen the democratic process in our city.

Respectfully,

Anthony Manousos

Happy Thanksgiving from MHCH

23 Nov

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving MHCH

We at MHCH wish you a happy Thanksgiving and hope you will be celebrating with family and friends. Some are not so fortunate. They don’t have a home and are living on the street or are housing insecure. That’s why we work to ensure that everyone has secure and affordable housing. 

Please support our efforts on GIVING TUESDAY (Nov 29) by clicking here. 

Our goal is to raise $50,000 by Dec. 31 and we have raised $30,000 so far. 

You are also warmly invited to our annual celebration, “Uniting for Housing Justice,” which will take place on Saturday, December 3, from 2:00-4:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena (500 E Colorado Blvd).

Music, refreshments, and inspiring stories of how Making Housing and Community Happen is addressing the housing crisis in Pasadena and beyond through affordable housing. We have much to celebrate:

  • Working with the Tenants Union to pass rent control in Pasadena.
  • Launching the San Gabriel Valley Community Land Trust as a separate nonprofit.
  • Rezoning religious land for affordable housing in Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Yorba Linda.
  • 69 congregations in So Cal are now seeking our advisement to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land.
  • Two successful One-Day Housing Justice Institutes, in Bellflower and Arcadia
  • People living in their cars getting housed.

RVSP at info@makinghousinghappen.org

or register to attend here: http://evite.me/EbuRgkzEpQ

 

Rent Control Provides Stability, Protects Seniors and People of Color

5 Nov

By Jill Shook, Co-founding Director of Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH)

My friend Diowanni Tate, a transplant from Jackson, Mississippi, called me for help. She said, “On Friday, July 1st, around 9:00 a.m. I received an eviction notice along with my fellow tenants. The anxiety associated with being told you have 60-days to vacate the premises without any regard of your next home was extremely stressful and for some traumatic. As a four-year resident, I thought I had found my home-sweet-home here in Pasadena partly because I didn’t think I would experience some of the ugly issues my parents and grandparents faced during the Civil Rights era regarding housing.”

Her corporate landlord along with other corporate landlords in Pasadena had evited over 100 tenants so they could do renovations and jack up the rents. I told Diowanni that this was illegal because of an LA County Covid law. Then I advised her to contact the Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU). PTU organized the tenants to write letters to their landlord about the LA County law. They staged a press conference with those who had been illegally evicted. The very next day Diowanni’s landlord rescinded Diowanni’s her notice!

When the tenants contacted Pasadena’s city officials, many were advised to apply for relocation funds with a minimal focus on knowing their rights with this County law that protects tenants from no-fault evictions until the end of 2022.

Despite stories like these, some of our elected leaders are saying that tenants already have all the protection they need from our city, and that they can count on Pasadena to hold landlords accountable. But this has not been the experience of Diowanni and others.  

Michelle White, Bert Newton, and I tried to have rent control and just cause eviction passed in Pasadena over 20 years ago. The City Council didn’t support rent control then, and today the only City Council member to support it is Jess Rivas.  In contrast, in Baldwin Park the City Council voted it in. In the fall of 2021, the Mayor’s Housing Task Force called on the Council to support rent control to no avail. With such lack of Council support in Pasadena, PTU knew that the initiative process was the only way to get it passed. We all got busy supporting the campaign collecting approximately 20,0000 signatures (15,000 were valid but only 13,000 were needed—these are especially impressive numbers considering that this was during the Omicron surge). When I was collecting signature, I was happy to see a number of landlords sign the petition, which will provide clear guidelines for what is a reasonable rent increase.

There is overwhelming public support for Measure H: over 60 organizations have endorsed rent control, including the Abundant Housing, ACLU, ACT, CHIRLA, the Clergy Community Coalition, Foothill Democrats, The League of Women Voters, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Making Housing and Community Happen, NDALON, POP!, PTA, PUSD, Southern Cal Public Service Workers, Union Station, and many more.

Most of the $280,000 funding to oppose rent control come from corporate landlords, including from Apartment Associations based in Chicago. Expensive, and misleading negative ads are filling our mailboxes. Don’t be fooled.

At one point the opponents of rent control caused me to have some doubts. When I assigned my MA Social Work students at Azusa Pacific University to debate rent control, I also dove deep into the research. What a fun surprise it was to learn that even Beverly Hills has rent control. I more I studied, the more I fully convinced that this policy is essential for society today, but sadly has a bad reputation based on misinformation. 

Some opponents of rent control cite a Stanford paper The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco, taking its negative conclusions about rent control as gospel. However, as Dean Preston and Shanti Singh point out in the Shelterforce Magazine, “The Stanford paper fully supports the conclusion that rent control works to keep people in their homes: We find that rent control increased the probability a renter stayed at their address by close to 20 percent.’ The stabilizing effects are ‘significantly stronger among older households and among households that have already spent a number of years at their treated [rent controlled] address.’ In other words, seniors and long-term tenants find longer-term stability because of rent control” Because seniors are the fastest-growing segment of our homeless population, keeping seniors affordably housed also helps keep them from becoming homeless.

Furthermore, the Stanford study shows that Black and Hispanic households are 10% more likely to stay in their rent-controlled apartments than white households. This data has profound racial justice implications for Pasadena where 56% of the African American population has been displaced since 1990 primarily due to soaring rents and gentrification. Rent stabilization could help prevent the exodus of people of color from our city.

That’s why Pastor Kerwin Manning, an African American leader in our city, said: “I’d be very surprised if you found a pastor not in favor of rent control. Our members don’t even live here anymore. At least 75% of congregants were forced to move because of higher and higher rents.”

Opponents of rent control say that the rent control board is costly and not accountable. This isn’t true. Members of the rent control board will be chosen by the City Council. Furthermore, the Board will be funded through a small fee (approximately $11 to $15 per unit per month) paid by the landlord, not by taxpayers. (In contrast, our city uses our tax dollars to ensure that restaurants are inspected to meet health and safety standards). This fee will not be onerous to Mom-and-Pop landlords and is a small price to pay to protect tenants.

Terry Tornek says that rent control will prevent new development, but this is not the case since state law dictates that rent control can only apply to apartments built before 1995. Development has been robust in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, two cities with strong rent control ordinances. What stops development are onerous zoning laws, not rent control.

Rent control is one of a long list of tools needed to stabilize society and prevent people like my friend Diowanni and so many others from living in fear of unjust evictions and unreasonable rent increases. Over 60% of Pasadena residents are renters. They need and deserve the kind of protection that Measure H (rent control) provides.

To solve our homelessness and housing crisis, we need to unite for housing justice. That’s the theme of our annual celebration, to which you are invited. See makinghousinghappen.org/events.

Sources:

·        “Dear Business School Professors: You’re Wrong, Rent Control Works.” By Dean Preston and Shanti Singh. Shelterforce, March 28, 2018/ https://shelterforce.org/2018/03/28/rent-control-works/

·        Shane Phillips, The Affordable City, p. 108.

·        https://www.pasadenanow.com/main/local-religious-organizations-endorse-measure-h

“Uniting for Housing Justice”: Our Annual Celebration Dec. 3, 2022!

29 Oct

Uniting for Housing Justice logo finalized ocr 18

In person or live stream, you are warmly invited to our annual celebration “Uniting for Housing Justice,” which will take place this year on Saturday, December 3, from 2:00-4:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena (500 E Colorado Blvd).

Music, refreshments, and inspiring stories of how Making Housing and Community Happen is addressing the housing crisis in Pasadena and beyond through affordable housing.

RVSP at info@makinghousinghappen.org

or register to attend here: http://evite.me/EbuRgkzEpQ

Please show your support the housing justice work of MHCH by clicking here.

You can watch livestream at the time of the event or at your convenience via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHO5JEEntqE

A Sneak Preview..

Stay tuned for the announcement on Dec. 3rdjohn kennedy of the John J. Kennedy Legacy Affordable Housing Rock Star Award! 

Two of this year’s honorees :Jess Rivas

Brendan Poon

Councilmember Jess Rivas for her strong support for affordable housing and rent control, and our intern, Brendan Poon, a junior at Polytechnic High School. Brendan has shown extraordinary commitment and leadership with Pasadena’s rent control campaign and recently published an op ed in Colorado Boulevard.  Jess and Brendan are truly affordable housing rock stars!

Uniting for Housing Justice sponor logos1024_1

Let’s Celebrate!

As we complete our fourth year as a nonprofit, we have much to celebrate in 2022:

¨ Launching the San Gabriel Valley Community Land Trust as a separate nonprofit.

¨ Rezoning religious land for affordable housing in Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Yorba Linda.

¨ 69 congregations in So Cal are now seeking our advisement to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land

¨ Two successful One-Day Housing Justice Institutes, in Bellflower and Arcadia

¨ People living in their cars getting housed.

Big goals for 2023:

¨ We are seeking to pass a bill that would rezone religious land statewide for affordable housing (similar to a bill that passed in Washington state).

¨ Have least three Housing Justice Institutes to foster housing justice teams in other cities.

¨ Host two “cohorts” for churches interested in affordable housing—one in Southern CA and one in Northern CA—to help congregations discern their readiness to move forward with our advisement.

¨ By the mid 2024 have congregations we are advising plan for 1,000 units of affordable housing!

And more.. stay tuned!

Our goal is not only to ensure that affordable housing gets built, but also to build what Dr. King calls the Beloved Community. That’s why we call our nonprofit “Making Housing and Community Happen.” “Uniting for Housing Justice”—the theme of this year’s celebration, lifts up the community and partners we work with, such as LA Voice, the Pasadena Tenants Union, Foothill Unity Center, the Clergy Community Coalition, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition, and more. Together we are uniting for housing justice and making a real difference!

Upcoming MHCH Forum and Our Annual Event

19 Oct

You’re invited to join us for our Housing Justice Forum on Tuesday, October 25 at 7 pm and our Annual Celebration on Saturday, December 3, 2:00 pm-4:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena. 

Our Housing Justice Forum via Zoom: 

How to produce affordable housing and protect tenants….”

Tuesday, October 25, at 7:00 pm

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0sduyqpj4oHdOEa0ta2529i8h5yqDOxJrC

“Tenant protections, homebuilding, and housing subsidies are all essential to improving housing affordability and household stability, but they can often be in tension. How do we build more homes without displacing existing communities?” Shane Phillips, author of the Affordable City, outlines a framework for balancing these goals, and discusses the important role that rent stabilization can play in achieving housing justice.

phillips_asu_image_1.1 (1)About the speaker: Shane Phillips manages the UCLA Lewis Center Housing Initiative, where he works to improve the public’s understanding of the causes of and solutions to Southern California’s housing challenges. He co-hosts the UCLA Housing Voice Podcast and is author of The Affordable City, and has written about housing for a variety of publications including the LA Times and The Atlantic. Originally from Seattle, Shane studied biochemistry at the University of Washington and urban planning at USC.

SAVE THE DATE!

Our Annual Celebration will take place Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pmUniting for Housing Justice logo finalized ocr 18 at the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena, 500 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena CA. The theme for this year’s event is Uniting For Housing Justice.”  See makinghousinghappen.org/events.

Facts vs. Myths About Rent Control Webinar

21 Sep

Rent Control Webinar Evite Image

Join us for a webinar on the facts vs. myths about rent control. Ryan Bell, organizer for the Measure H Rent Control campaign in Pasadena, will explain the facts, dispel myths and answer questions about rent control. He will counter misinformation spread by “organized money” and explain how you can become part of efforts to empower tenants and transform our city.

Tuesday, Sept 27, at 7:00 pm.

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUqduivrjgvHdyu7cCRhWNZTfySJNX9mhhO

Ryan Bell is the Southern California Regional Organizer with Tenants Together and a volunteer Member Organizer with the Pasadena Tenants Union. He is also a campaign organizer and finance coordinator for the Measure H campaign for rent control and just cause protections in Pasadena.

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.

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