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Affordable Housing Update for April 29th: Breaking New Ground!

2 May

From April 29th, 2022

We are launching our summer fundraising campaign “Breaking New Ground: Transforming Lives, Churches, and Cities Through Affordable Housing!” We invite you to join us in celebrating several significant updates: our Community Land Trust (CLT) Team just became their own nonprofit; ten cities in southern California are in the process of rezoning church land for affordable housing; our Congregational Land Committee is launching their initial feasibility and education Cohort with 8 churches; a partner church in Laguna Beach is making their final selection to develop affordable housing; our North Fair Oaks Empowerment team has the information needed to advocate for street improvements and safety measures; and more! Click here to read more about our ground breaking efforts and upcoming events and click here to donate to our summer campaign.

Affordable Housing Update for April 22nd: Advocating and Educating in Pasadena

22 Apr

From April 22nd, 2022

Our great city of Pasadena is offering a variety of ways to get involved in the civic process. Local and regional residents know that the housing market is getting out of control, and housing prices have hit an all time high. The Pasadena Planning Commission is having a meeting this upcoming Wednesday, April 27th, at 6:30pm and you’re invited to come show your support for allowing religious institutions to have affordable housing built on their underutilized property. The following evening on Thursday, April 28th, at 7pm, MHCH and others are sponsoring an important community budget teach-in. And tonight is the Social Justice Shabbat, hosted by Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center, with special choir “Urban Voices.” Click here for all of the details and a podcast recommendation!

Let the Pasadena Planning Commission Know You Support Affordable Housing on Congregational Land and Throughout the City

21 Apr

On Wednesday, April 27, at 6:30 pm, the Planning Commission will hear a staff report along with public comments and make a recommendation to the City Council regarding rezoning congregational/institutional land for affordable housing. This is your chance to speak out by email or in person, letting Commissioners know that you support the MHCH proposal that would allow religious institutions to have affordable housing built on their underutilized property.

Additionally, the Planning Commission will hear a staff report on the Housing Element, a state-mandated housing plan for our city. Let the Commissioners know that you support the affordable housing proposals of MHCH and the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition. We’re advocating for a transfer tax on properties selling for more than $5 million to fund affordable housing as well as rezoning commercially zoned areas for mixed use and affordable housing. To learn more and for talking points, see link to blog.

Email: htam@cityofpasadena.net

Attend meeting: https://www.cityofpasadena.net/commissions/planning-commission/

Here are talking points for rezoning congregational land for affordable housing:

Begin with:

Dear Commissioners, Thank you for considering the proposal to rezone congregational/institutional land for affordable housing. I am writing in support of this innovative and much needed zone change.

Give your background (occupation, where you work, live or worship) and a sentence about why you care about housing our low-income and homeless neighbors.

Then pick one of these points and either copy-and-paste or rephrase in your own words:

  1. I urge the Commission to recommend predetermined standards for height and density, so churches and developers don’t have to go through a long, uncertain and costly process to get approvals. Developer rarely will take a project that required them to spend over $1 million dollars and wait three years for a zone change to make it possible to build affordable housing on their underutilized land. This proposal will eliminate needless delays and ensure that projects are actually built.
  2. The need for affordable housing is “desperate,” as our Mayor 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.
  3. After nearly two years of research and vetting, this proposal has been carefully crafted to provide “desperately needed affordable, high quality, housing for all our residents” (as our Mayor described the goal of the Housing Task Force). These projects will not negatively impact single family neighborhoods since they will mainly be in areas that are zoned commercial or public/semi-public.
  4. Our proposal seeks development standards that will ensure that affordable housing built on congregational will be appropriate in size and scale for where they are located. In other words, if the adjacent zone allows for three stories, a three-story project should be allowed. We’re also recommending that the 800 block of N. Altadena Drive be rezoned for multifamily RM 32 development since it was downzoned even though multi-family housing already exists there.
  5. Churches are ideal sites for affordable housing since many are already involved in helping homeless and low-income individuals with food, clothing, and other services. Many churches have large parking lots that are underutilized during the week.
  6. This proposal 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.
  7. Pasadena residents will benefit from this proposal since those who live and work in, or who have been displaced from, our city will be given preference for housing thanks to our local preference ordinance.
  8. This proposal has the support of Pasadena Heritage. Historic churches will not be negatively impacted but given new life that benefits the community. Current laws (i.e. CEQA) protect historic churches. They cannot be demolished or affected without Council approval. Churches can be adaptively reused to ensure that they are preserved and useful.
  9. Our proposal recommends that affordable housing developers use the city’s concession menu, which are height and development standards that the City has already approved. By law developers could choose instead to use the state density bonus, which allows an 80% density bonus for a 100% affordable project. These extra units legally could be market rate, but affordable housing developers almost never do that because it isn’t financially feasible. Affordable housing developers typically pursue 100% affordable housing, except for units that need to be kept unrestricted as manager’s units or units controlled by the (previous) landowner. Affordable housing projects have to pay prevailing wage, which means construction costs tend to be 30% higher. Building market-rate units on-site with no subsidy but higher costs usually does not pencil out.

Affordable Housing Update for April 15th: Practicing Resurrection on this Holy Weekend

18 Apr

From April 15th, 2022

The Scriptures in Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (KJV). One way we wrestle against wicked powers is by practicing the subversive act of resurrection. And during this Holy Week, MHCH’s cofounding director Jill Shook shares an excerpt from her book written by Shane Claiborne. Claiborne details the ways God’s people in Philadelphia have wrestled to bring justice and safety in the form of housing the homeless. Click here to read more and be inspired by the goodness of Holy rebellion!

Affordable Housing Update for April 8th: Safe Parking Successes

11 Apr

From April 8th, 2022

MHCH’s Safe Parking Committee partnered with Trinity Lutheran Church and Foothill Unity Center to bring forth the first safe parking site in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s been running for one year now and the pilot program has seen two of the six parkers move into housing! We celebrate with these parkers and are looking forward to getting to know these resilient neighbors throughout their stay in the program. Click here to read more!

Affordable Housing Update for April 1st: Organizing, Advocacy, and Education!

4 Apr

From April 1st, 2022

MHCH has been living out our mission of organizing, advocating, and educating. What a joy it is to see the fruits of hard labor!

The organizing efforts of MHCH, in partnership with local rent control advocates and coalitions, has brought in enough signatures to have a rent control initiative on the November ballot. Youth at Pasadena Foursquare have been advocating for affordable housing solutions with Pasadena’s Housing Task Force. MHCH’s cofounding director, Jill Shook, will be teaching and conducting a one day housing institute at Kingdom Causes Bellflower this Saturday, April 9th. Click here to read more and to learn how you can get involved!

Affordable Housing Update for March 25th: A Win for Tenants’ Rights!

28 Mar

From March 25th, 2022

Rent Control advocates have submitted the signatures needed to have a charter amendment on the November 2022 ballot! This is a huge win for housing justice advocates and for the 62% of Pasadena households who are renters.

The proposal to rezone church land for affordable housing is moving along. The Planning Commission will meet with City Council in April with it’s recommendations, and City Council will meet to discusses the rezoning in May. If you are able and willing to speak at either of these meetings, or if you’re interested in writing emails to city leaders, please contact Bert at bert@makinghousinghappen.org.

Michelle White is a local Pasadenan with a passion for housing justice. She is the executive director of Affordable Housing Services and was a founding member of the grassroots affordable housing action group, which eventually turned into MHCH! Books could be written about Michelle’s story and passion and successes, both locally and nationally. Click here to learn more!

Affordable Housing Update for March 18th: Victories Abound in the Pursuit of Affordable Housing!

21 Mar

From March 18th, 2022

Rent Control advocates have exceeded their goal of obtaining 13,336 signatures needed for their petition! To learn how to join the campaign, donate, volunteer, or sign the petition, please click here.

The proposal to rezone church land for affordable housing is back on the Planning Commission agenda for this Wednesday, March 23rd. The City Council will discuss this recommendation in May, and MHCH is eager to see the fruits of this long road to justice. If you are able and willing to speak this Wednesday, or if you’re interested in writing emails to city leaders, please contact Bert at bert@makinghousinghappen.org.

We continue to celebrate women this month and always. Click here to read more about significant women, locally and nationally, who have contributed greatly to the movement to make housing affordable to all.

Love your city and everyone in it, as Jesus did…That’s the core value of MHCH

16 Mar

Jill tapped me late last night to do the devotion for MHCH’s bi-monthly Leadership Team meeting. She said, “Read our Core Values and come up with a Scripture passage that relates to it.” It’s been quite a while since I reviewed our core values and I was moved by this one:

We are faith-rooted, each of us operating from our own faith perspective and pursuing justice in a spirit of respect for each other, love for our city, and especially for the most vulnerable. All are welcome, including those without religious faith. We believe everyone reflects God’s image. What would a policy look like where everyone is valued and seen as precious?

I love the idea that all are welcome in MHCH. It reminds me of the scripture passage that was read during this Sunday worship service at the Methodist Church where Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem and he laments, 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Jesus loves Jerusalem so much that he later weeps over her—the only other time that Jesus weeps was at the death of his friend Lazarus. Clearly Jesus loves this city with all its flaws, even knowing that the leaders of Jerusalem would kill him. I feel God has called us to love our city in the same way even when our leaders sometimes give us a hard time. Jesus doesn’t say, “I want to gather all the good people under my wing.” He is totally inclusive. He wants to gather everyone, rich, poor, religious folks and sinners. But Jesus has a special love for the poor, the sinners, the sick and the outcast. That’s also our approach at MHCH.

Entry by Anthony Manousos, Co-founder of MHCH

Pasadena violates law regarding SB 9 and tries to prevent homeowners from creating less expensive homes on their lots

16 Mar

“To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).

Pasadena is a city with huge disparities between rich and poor, and many of the rich would like to keep our city just the way it is. Even though low-income people, and people of color, are being displaced because the median home price is now one million dollars, many wealthy homeowners and their allies on the City Council oppose a law that would help create less expensive homes and allow some of the “missing middle” (teachers, city workers, etc.) to live in the city where they work. Those who oppose SB 9 need to be reminded of what Jesus said: “Those to whom much is given, much will be required.” This applies to homeowners like Jill and me. Jill bought our home for $140,000 in 1993 and now it’s worth $900,000. We’ve been “given much” thanks to soaring housing costs (caused in part by policies that limit density) and now we want to make sure that others can have what we have: an affordable home.

SB 9 is a law that allows homeowners to split their lots and create additional units which will undoubtedly be less costly than current homes in Pasadena (which now average one million dollars)  because they will be smaller and on smaller lots. We at MHCH support this law and want the city to find ways to make it work for our city, as was done with the state laws regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). (Pasadena’s City Council fiercely opposed ADUs, until state law forced the city to drop restrictions and allow them. Now Pasadena proudly embraces ADUs and for good reasons: many are building them for family members and are providing “naturally occurring affordable housing”.)

Cities like Pasadena that oppose SB 9 have catered to the fears of wealthy homeowners and ignored studies showing that this law will not drastically change or harm single-family neighborhoods. Elected officials have tried to thwart the law by declaring areas of the city “landmark districts” so these areas can be exempt from compliance. This article makes it clear that what Pasadena is doing is illegal. We hope that our city will try to see the value of this law and adopt policies like the ones adopted for ADUs that will encourage homeowners to make new units as affordable as possible.

Less than a month before the state law took effect, Pasadena, a Southern California city of roughly 140,000 people, passed an ordinance that among other restrictions allows officials to exempt eligible areas by declaring them “landmark districts.”

But no such exemption exists under the law, Bonta said.

The ordinance “undermines SB 9 and denies residents the opportunity to create sorely needed additional housing, under the guise of protecting ‘landmark districts,’” Bonta said in a statement. “This is disappointing and, more importantly, violates state law.”

https://apnews.com/article/college-football-sports-california-legislature-sacramento-265e6ce2e5ac1d5bff6c5b2cd4d5baaf

Entry by Anthony Manousos, Co-founder of MHCH

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