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History of the Greater Pasadena Area Housing Group

3 May

The Early beginnings to present (1995-2019)

During the 1980s and 1990s, housing costs and eviction rates soared across the country because of the Savings and Loans crisis.  Many grassroots nonprofits and advocacy groups were formed at this time to address the growing need for affordable housing throughout the US.  In Pasadena, Affordable Housing Action (AHA), an advocacy group with Quaker roots, was birthed during this period. This was the forerunner of GPAHG.

AHA had their first meeting at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office which was then located on North Fair Oaks Avenue. AHA met monthly to address the need for affordable housing in Pasadena. AHA was committed to the production and preservation of quality, appropriate, affordable housing with priority on the most vulnerable populations of low to no-income residents, and the dispersal of this housing throughout the city of Pasadena.

AHA identified their first official advocacy initiative in 1995 when A.B. 1164, also known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, was passed. This bill enabled owners in rent-controlled communities to establish their own rental rates after occupancy changes. To achieve stability in housing costs, AHA began to advocate for rent control in Pasadena, without success. (In 2017 this cause was taken up by the Pasadena Tenants Union and continues to be supported by GPAHG, with much more promising prospects).

In 2000, AHA changed its name to the Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (PAHG) and was no longer officially affiliated with the AFSC. In 2006, PAHG decided to expand its work to the San Gabriel Valley and changed its name to GPAHG—Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group.

In 2017, after twenty years of successful advocacy as a grassroots organization, with no paid staff, GPAHG began to feel the need to explore becoming a nonprofit to expand its efforts. In 2018, GPAHG became incorporated under Making Housing and Community Happen, utilizing the fiscal sponsorship of Social Good.

In 2018 GPAHG’s core leadership team voted to become faith-rooted in its approach. GPAHG is not exclusive to only one faith—all are welcome and respected, including those who are not religious. GPAHG is not shy about its Quaker and Christian roots, but neither does it minimize another’s faith or motivation.  GPAHG is founded on the belief in a God of justice and that with God all things are possible.  GPAHG urges its members and the city to dream and imagine a community where all are adequately housed.  It takes faith to believe that such housing can happen. It takes faith to believe that the hearts and minds of decision makers can be changed by the power of a loving God. GPAHG is committed to the redemption of the city, both its systems and its decision-makers.

Currently, GPAHG has an estimated 20 members. Over the years, GPAHG has been comprised of a diverse membership consisting of retired planning commissioners, retired city planners, lawyers, architects, nonprofit directors, pastors, caseworkers, former homeless individuals, and long-term advocates at the local and state levels.

In its twenty-year history, GPAHG, in collaboration with community partners twice GPAHG has employed tools like affordable housing bus tours and candidates’ forums. Bus tours served to dispel myths about affordable housing when people could see its high quality and how it serves not only to provide sorely needed affordable housing but also to beautify communities. Candidates forums have served to educate the city council, commissions, and Pasadena residents on policies that enable or incentivize affordable housing within the city.  At candidate forums, key questions are asked, with candidate starting their positions on specific housing issues. Forums take place before elections, and in public venues, thereby holding elected officials accountable to what they have stated. These are excellent organizing tools, but most of GPAHG work is done in small groups: researching issues, meeting one-on-one with stakeholders and elected officials, building consensus around a position on an issue, then gathering up crowds among a broad cross section of the city and especially the support of congregations, weigh in, strengthen and support the findings, and share talking points at public meetings.  Below you will read of key campaigns, wins and losses that that have shaped what GPAHG is today.

Inclusionary: A Powerful win for affordable housing! (2001-2010)

In 2001, PAHG was part of a citywide advocacy effort to pass an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which requires developers to set aside a certain percentage of their units as affordable when they build more than 10 units. As of March 2019, this ordinance has resulted in the creation of 577 affordable housing units at no cost to the city by requiring that 15% of all new housing include affordable units. (Because the ordinance required only a 6% set aside during its first year, many developers in Old Pasadena quickly pulled permits to take advantage of this.)

In 2010, reading the local Star News, GPAHG learned of an 800-unit proposal, the largest ever in Pasadena. GPAHG called Sares Regis, the developer, who was eager to meet to gain community support, and a meeting was set. At this meeting GPAHG asked if they were planning to pay the in-lieu fee or include 15% of units as affordable. When they responded that they would supply only moderate-income units on site, GPAHG stated that it supported only lower income units. In a follow up meeting two weeks later, Sares Regis decided to provide all very-low income units and go above the 15% required to 20%, resulting in 96 very-low-income units spread throughout their luxury development.

This TOD-Transit Oriented Development is smart growth at is its finest, undoing exclusionary practices, creating affordable housing indistinguishable from the luxury units, all within a few minutes’ walk to job-rich Old Pasadena, and a few more minutes’ walk to the metro station.

Many residents fear or oppose more traffic, often equating it with higher density housing. Surprisingly, higher density and affordable housing often lower traffic if the units are near jobs and transportation alternatives. This was the case with Westgate. Their traffic study was questioned, causing the city to make them redo it, with the same positive results.  With proximity to the metro, offering shared electric vehicles, zip cars and other traffic mitigation efforts, traffic at and around Westgate has been greatly reduced. Sares Regis has won green builder awards with their strong commitment to green building: http://www.sares-regis.com/SRG-Green-Overview

Not all developers are as generous as Sares Regis, opting to include all very-low income units.  Holly Street Apartments is the only other development with 20% of the units set aside as affordable.  To prevent the set aside units from being 100% moderate, GPAHG helped to change the Inclusionary Ordinance so that only 5% could be moderate and the rest either low or very low-income units. GPAHG also played a role in helping the city to increase the in-lieu fee option, so that is would cover a higher percent of the affordability gap. To date, this fee is still too low. In 2016, the housing department conducted a nexus study demonstrating that the fee should be increased by up to four times. In 2019, the City Council will consider increasing this fee. You will read more about inclusionary below.

Granny Flat and Down-Zoning setbacks! (2003)

In 2003 PAHG experienced a major setback in response to AB 1866.This state law made it possible once again to build granny flats (Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs) behind homes throughout the state, but unfortunately it also allowed cities to create their own ordinances. Cities across the state began to pass restrictive ADU ordinances to prevent AB 1866 from being implemented. Pasadena’s passed one of the more restrictive policies. GPAHG felt it was prepared with 21 pastors standing strong until after midnight, with powerful stories, solid talking points with reasonable requests of allowing detached granny flats on 7,500 sf lots. But after midnight the City Council found a way to do the opposite, passing a highly restrictive ADU ordinance that required a minimum lot size of 15,000 sq. ft. Additionally, the city added the unusual requirement of a two-car garage for one of these small units. Furthermore, these units could not to be visible from the street, and no ADUs could be allowed more than 500 feet from any other ADU. As a result of so many restrictions, only ADU was built in 15 years! Nevertheless, GAHG remained committed to granny flats. Fifteen years later, thanks to a new state law, new city ordinances were passed to enable granny flats to be built in Pasadena, as will be explained later.

In addition to trying to restrict ADUs, the City Council began down zoning major sections of the city, posing further challenges to the creation of affordable housing. PAHG joined an effort to prevent downzoning on Los Robles between Orange Grove and Washington, whereby the zoning capacity would be cut in half, from 32 units per acre to 16 units per acre. This is not good news for affordable housing. Such low densities greatly limit housing development capacity, typically preventing affordable units. Even with 300 strong at the City Council in support of retaining the existing 32 units per acre, the neighborhood associations prevailed. But GPAHG did not give up and is still committed to higher density and smart growth.

Turning a Military Base to Affordable Housing (2005-2006)

In 2005, the Desiderio Army Reserve Center under the famous Colorado Street bridge was declared surplus by the United States Army. GPAHG researched and found that housing for homeless veterans was supposed to be a priority use when bases close. GPAHG showed up at each public meeting to remind the City Council of this priority. They also reminded the community that the development capacity on this site of 70 units could go a long way in meeting a very real need to address homelessness.  After the City went through many lengthy public hearings, the Department of Defense (DOD) and HUD-(Housing and Urban Development) initially rejected the city’s proposed use because it lacked any homeless housing. Reworking the proposal, the city was able to use units for homeless housing at Centennial Place to satisfy federal requirements.

Habitat proposed building affordable housing on the Desiderio site. GPAHG chose to support Habitat’s proposal with the strong support of many churches and ECPAC—the Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Churches. (ECPAC is now Friends in Deed). Today this site has nine beautiful Habitat homes, with three for veterans, and a neighborhood park in the works. See: http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/habitats-desiderio-project-set-to-open-nine-fortunate-families-to-move-in-during-june/#.XI2IfihKhHw

In 2006, PAHG decided to expand its work to the San Gabriel Valley and changed its name to GPAHG—Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group.

Advocating for the Displaced Disabled, Elderly (2007)

In 2007, GPAHG became aware that a developer named Singoli purchased Pasadena Manor and was evicting 157 elderly and disabled residents to make way for the Constance Hotel. With the support of Unite Here, and the sad yet powerful stories of displaced residents, GPAHG made this front-page news and repeatedly filled the council chambers with people demanding that if Singoli were to receive $11 million in federal revitalization funds, they should pay relocation costs for the displaced residents and the city’s living wage for hotels workers. Repeated city council meetings took place with no decision to honor any of GPAHG’s requests, and the deadline passed to submit the proposal for federal funds. GPAHG successfully prevented federal dollars from being used to make a luxury hotel that was displacing long term elderly residents, but more importantly, GPAHG worked with a lawyer that enabled many of the elderly residents eventually received relocation costs.See:http://www.peterdreier.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Poverty_living_at_luxury_prices.pdf

 Housing Department formed, inclusionary housing muLtiplied (2008-2019)

In 2008, GPAHG successfully advocated for Pasadena to create a Housing Department separate from the Planning Department. This has enabled a much higher production of affordable housing. For example, not only have 577 units been created through the inclusionary housing ordinance, but over 690 additional units have been created or preserved through leveraging fees that developers have an option to pay in lieu of including affordable units.

In 2018 the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance was up for review. A GPAHG subcommittee spent a year studying ways to strengthen this complex ordinance. They decided to advocate for retaining the in-lieu fee option (at a much higher rate) since it is the only locally generated funding source for affordable housing. If affordable housing developers are approved for a project in Pasadena, they often apply for and receive in lieu funding from the city. They can then leverage this seed money anywhere up to 3-8 times to build out the funding needed to complete the project.

GPAHG is also recommending that Pasadena consider following the example of Chicago: there, if a developer wishes to pay a fee in lieu of building affordable units, they can apply the fee option to only half of the units set aside to be affordable, while the other half must be included on site. GPAHGs inclusionary team has proposed this option and other key points that would strengthen this ordinance. Additionally, they are recommending that the 15% set aside is doubled in TOD sites, ¼ mile around Transit Oriented Developments. Santa Monica and Hawaii have 30% set asides for their larger developments and Metro requires 35% of their land be for affordable housing. There are many other recommendations that GPAHG’s Inclusionary team has been proposing to the Planning Commission, the Housing and Planning Departments and the City Council. See: https://makinghousinghappen.net/2019/03/22/inclusionary-housing-proposal-from-the-greater-pasadena-affordable-housing-group/Once the city has conducted a feasibility study, it likely be voted on in mid-2019.

The “Greater Pasadena” part of GPAHG is finally coming to pass with several Monrovia residents joining the Inclusionary team to learn how to move forward in passing an inclusionary ordinance for their city.

 GPAHG Helps Pasadena Craft an Award-Winning Housing Element (2013-2021)

Over the years GPAHG has also played a pivotal role in shaping Pasadena’s Housing Elements (HE). This is a comprehensive document which plans for enough housing for all income levels and must be submitted to the state every 4-8 years.  The key word is plan. With the severe shortage of affordable housing, the state is adding more teeth to foster more accountability so that cities will implement these plans.

Only one public body in the city discussed affordable housing: the Economic Development and Technology Subcommittee of the City Council. GPAHG’s efforts to add an affordable housing commission to the city has not yet materialized, but the Planning Commission now plays the role of implementing the Housing Element. Their agenda is quite full, so the HE has not received the attention it deserves. But some added support was won by requiring the Planning Commission to devote at least two of their meetings a year to affordable housing. GPAHG also garnered support for the Housing Department to have two workshops a year on some aspect of affordable housing. Topics have included: ADUs, a debate on the pros and cons of a housing commission, and ideas for additional funding sources.

These extra city-based supports have been appreciated, but don’t go far enough. Thankfully, the state is starting to hold cities accountable for reaching their housing goals. Often cities simply say they don’t have the funding for affordable housing so it can’t be done. But groups like LA Voice with Faith in Action didn’t allow this to be a reason not to build affordable housing. In 2017 they organized their 58 member congregations to pass a quarter cent sales tax, Measure H, which provided the needed funding for permanent supportive housing, which ends homelessness. The challenge now it to get land use approvals so the funding can be accessed.

In 2014 GPAHG in partnership Public Council wrote a 21-page detailed analysis of Pasadena’s Housing Element. This included vetting every proposed site where affordable housing could be built. GPAHG visited each site and determined if affordable housing was feasible there.

GPAHG also advocated for the creation of some additional housing goals, which were included. For example, the innovative idea to “study options to change the tenant protection ordinance and for options for preserving non-deed restricted affordable housing by 2016” (p. A-32 of the 2013-2021 Housing Element). GPAHG felt that good landlords charging reasonable rents should be incentivized, perhaps with some green features in exchange for reasonable rents. While this out-of-the box idea made it into to the approved HE, it still needs to be thoroughly studied and implemented. Perhaps in 2019 this will finally take place, four years after the deadline.

GPAHG advocated for these deadlines in order to keep the city accountable to its commitment to create affordable housing. One year, at the ninth hour, GPAHG asked the HDC—the state’s Housing and Urban Development Department—to send the HE back to have deadlines added to many of the goals before it would be approved. Too many of the goals were “ongoing,” which would roll into the next HE 4-8-year cycle and not be addressed. For example, studying granny flats had been pushed into the next Housing Element cycle several times. Today, due to GPAHG’s effort, there are many more deadlines.

Many in GPAHG believe that its efforts were at least partly responsible for this HE winning a Planning Award of Merit for Focused Issue Planning by the California-Los Angeles Chapter of the American Planning Association. Additionally, this Housing Element, alongside Austin, TX, won the 2014 Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award for Best Housing Element by the Urban Land Institute’s Tewillinger Center for Housing.  GPAHG continually participates at city council meetings to encourage the goals of the Housing Element are met and implemented.  See: https://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/planning/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/07/Adopted-Housing-Element-2014-02-04.pdf

GPAHG Holds Fuller Seminary Accountable for Affordable Housing and Spurs a Stronger Tenant Protection Ordinance [TPO] (2014-present)

In 2014, GPAHG was alerted to Fuller Seminary’s sale of 197 student housing units to Carmel Partners, a luxury builder. By so doing it broke their 20-year Fuller Master Plan (MP) agreement with the city, which was adopted in 2006 and stated that all housing within its MP was to be used for affordable student housing. GPAHG sought to retain this agreement in multiple ways—first, by seeking to apply AB 2222, whereby a unit in which a lower income person had lived within the past five years had to be replaced in the new development. This law only applied to developments asking for a density bonus. The AB 1818 state Density bonus law allows up to 35% more units in a development if very-low income units are included, overriding existing allowed densities. Additionally, Pasadena allows an additional 50% density bonus in the central district to encourage new development away from single family neighborhoods. Typically, these are attractive tools to incentivize developers to provide affordable units. But Carmel Partners were not interested in taking advantage of this bonus, so none of the 197 lower income units were replaced. This was a huge loss and missed opportunity since this site is ideal for higher density housing.

Upon learning that no Fuller student displaced by the sale to Carmel Partners qualified to receive relocation costs, GPAHG began to research how to strengthen Pasadena’s TPO—Tenant Protection Ordinance. They found that the TPO was protecting landlords more than tenants. GPAHG discovered a loophole that was preventing relocation costs from being paid: Only those tenants with leases qualified for relocation funds, so landlord would simply change the tenancy to month-to-month, enabling them to bypass paying for relocation cost. Finally, in 2017, after a year of one-on-one meetings with staff and City Council members, letters and reminders, the City Council unanimously approved that all tenants in good standing living in households at or below 140% of the median income would be paid a relocation allowance equal to two months fair market rents as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) for a rental unit of a similar size.

After an entire apartment complex was evited due to dramatically increased rents, in 2019, the city is again updated the TPO to determine if the city will vote to provide relocation costs in if rents are increased above a certain percent. GPAHG partners are working on this.

In 2019, GPAHG organized a prayer vigil on the Fuller Campus for another housing issue. On MLK Day, with close to 100 in attendance, pastors and leaders asked God to preserve Chang Commons, with 169 affordable student housing units, which are supposed to be preserved under Pasadena’s inclusionary policy. See: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fuller-theological-seminary-wants-to-profit-from-gentrification_us_58fe9c92e4b0f02c3870edc7

Anti-camping Ordinance was fought and GPAHG won! (2016)

 In 2015 there was a significant rise in laws criminalizing homeless people in California, but these laws have only worsened, not solved, the problem. UC Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic conducted an extensive study of this problem in 2015 and concluded that “criminalization harms homeless people and perpetuates poverty by restricting access to the social safety net, affordable housing, and employment opportunities.” http://www.homelesslivesmatterberkeley.org/pdf/CA_New_Vagrancy_Laws.pdf

A member of the city council initially felt that by making it illegal for homeless individuals to be on the streets, it would help businesses and the address homelessness. After GPAHGs Anti-Camping team met to do research, crafted talking points and presented their findings to the City Council, the Council decided not to pass this pernicious ordinance. This was a big win for GPAHG, garnering respect from many key players when they heard the excellent research that we done and the caliber of stake holders who so effectively presented their points. See: https://makinghousinghappen.net/2019/03/22/anti-camping-ordinance-talking-points/

After 15 Years, a Reasonable Granny Flats Ordinance is Approved! (2017)

With 58,000 homeless people counted in LA County in 2017 alone, and a severe housing shortage statewide, state lawmakers saw that one way to address this crisis would be to ease restrictions on granny flats, otherwise known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). GPAHG’s ADU subcommittee worked tirelessly with the state and local players, including AARP and many churches, gathering up stories of how ADUs would help families grow, college ages children have independence or the elderly affordably age in place, preventing displacement. Additionally, Chase Andre, a Fuller intern with GPAHG, was able to identify 740 legal ADUs, built prior to Pasadena’s overly restrictive 2003 ordinance. With the help of Phil Burns, a city planner on GPAHG’s team, plotted all 740 ADUs on a map of Pasadena so that statistics on crime, the number of parked cars, property values, traffic and other factors could be compared with adjacent streets that had no ADUs. Opponents were saying that ADUs would destroy single-family neighborhoods. The results showed that there was on impact in any of these areas on streets with a high number of ADUs: See: https://makinghousinghappen.net/?s=comparative+analysis&submit=Search

With such diligent research, steady persistence, and the power of a cohesive team and the help of the state policy causing cities to relax their strict rules, Pasadena’s overly restrictive policies were overturned, and a more reasonable local ordinance is now in place. Today any single-family homeowner can convert their garage into an ADU, no matter their property size, or build an attached or detached ADU if their property size in 7,200 sf. Whereas only one ADU was built between 2001 and 2017, since 2017, 40 ADUs have been completed with 13 set aside with either an affordable covenant or rented to a Section 8 tenant. Thankfully, GPAHG also succeeded in preventing the $20,000 impact fee from being applied not only to ADUs for lower income folks, but also for family members. See: https://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/planning/accessory-dwelling-unit-regulations/

 GPAHG Successfully Advocates for Homeless Housing (2018)

In 2018, GPAHG successfully advocated for the approval of 69 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless seniors at Heritage Square South after a nine month campaign that included several prayer vigils; religious leaders participating in an all night stay on the site with some of those experiencing homelessness; close to 1,000 letters sent to City Council; and packing public meetings with key community leaders and pastors sharing compelling talking points. On Dec 17th, the City Council not only approved these units, Mayor Tornek surprised everyone with his recommendation to use the vacant city-own YWCA for homeless housing.  This historic landmark was designed by the famous architect Julia Morgan (who also designed the Hearst Castle).  This is GPAHG’s 2019 campaign, in addition to seeking to house some of Pasadena’s 677 homeless neighbors counted in 2018, in motels converted to homeless housing.  GPAHG has strongly supported the 2018 ordinance that facilitates the conversion of motels by doing community engagement in East Pasadena, where many motels are located and where there is rampant NIMBYism. See: https://laquaker.blogspot.com/2018/12/pasadena-city-council-approves-homeless.html

 GPAHG was not ready for Rent control in 1995 but it is today

 In 1995 Pasadena was not ready for rent control but in 2017, thanks to the Pasadena Tenants Union, there was tremendous support for rent stabilization: they came close to getting it on the ballot by collecting over 10,000 signatures.  (This support surpassed the 8,200 votes garnered by the Mayor, who opposes rent control.) In 2018, over 54% of Pasadenans voted for the state Prop 10 ballot measure, which would have allowed cities to have rent control if passed. PTU will try another local initiative in 2020, with support from GPAHG.

 

 

PLATFORM FOR THE GREATER PASADENA AFFORDABLE GROUP (GPAHG)

22 Mar

For the past twenty years, GPAHG has used the list below as our platform. This list was collectively created within our group, but especially with the help of Michelle White, a co-founder of our group in 1995. Michelle is a tireless housing advocate. I owe much to Michelle. She is brilliant with a rare understanding of housing and housing policy.

Michelle White

Michelle has a Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University, is presently Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Services, a non-profit specializing in producing units affordable for low and very low-income persons with disabilities, persons of color and families. While Executive Director of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California, Michelle supervised five Los Angeles County fair housing agencies, looking at violations of state and federal land use, redlining and fair housing laws.  She was a civil rights assistant to the federal regulator of national banks and among experts that drafted California fair housing law, recognized as the strongest in the nation.

 So here is our platform.. keeping us ever on our toes to do more. Some items we have successfully completed, like our ADU ordinance, and we are working on strengthening the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance we help to get passed in 2001, but other items on this this we can only dream of at this point. 

If you wish to down load this as a PDF, here is the link:

GPAHG platform

Production of New Affordable Housing

  • Inclusionary Zoning
  • Set-aside for extremely-low income units
  • Increase in-lieu fee four time what is now.
  • Increase the affordable housing set-aside around transit corridors to 30% and 25% the rest of the city
  • Minimize down-zoning so that the right density can support affordable housing, i.e. at least 32 units per acre
  • Identify Land, Vacant city church parking lots and others parcels
  • Find ways to help landlords support section 8, end discrimination against Section 8

Increase additional funds to Housing Trust Fund

Identify new sources of funding:

  • % of sales tax revenue
  • Affordable housing bond
  • % construction tax to mitigate impacts on affordable housing needs
  • Title transfer tax
  • Parking fees
  • Parcel tax
  • Airbnb TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax)
  • Other?

Second Unit Ordinance, Granny Flats, ADU-Accessory Dwelling Units.  

  • Further Reduce minimum lot size from 7,200 s.f. and other Limiting factor ADUs from being built
  • Allow ADUs to be built over garages
  • Create a pilot project i.e. on Zanja
  • Strengthen the cities’ proposed pilot project to help fund ADUs for low-income.

Preserve Existing Affordable Housing

  • Monitor at-risk affordable buildings and be sure they don’t go market rate i.e. I the process of the Fuller Seminary sale
  • Track rents citywide and monitor affordable rents with something like Landlord Licensing
  • Create or Partner with a Community Land Trust.
  • One-for-one replacement and no-net-loss
  • Incentivize naturally occurring affordable housing by providing incentives like green features.
  • Create a Condo conversion ordinance allowing at least a third of those renting to become homeowners
  • Institute rent control/rent stabilization

 

Improve City Processes

  • Create a Permanent Affordable Housing Commission to create and implement a vision for affordable housing production and preservation via the Housing Element with stronger enforcement.
  • Identify sites for affordable housing development, including private land and excess City, County, CalTrans, PUSH and other public lands
  • Promote affordable housing projects
  • Monitor currently restricted units
  • Monitor currently affordable but non-restricted units
  • Monitor Planning Commission to ensure affordable housing projects are expedited
  • Routine analyses of impediments to affordable housing development
  • Routine analyses of impediments to fair housing choices
  • Restore varying Section 8 subsidy levels to reflect differing fair market rents in expensive sections of the City
  • Refrain from having policy determinations make by staff without the benefit of public input
  • Improve the scope of EIR (Environmental Impact Reports) to include the impact of the lack of affordable housing.

 

Education on affordable housing development, preservation and policy

  • For City Council,
  • Planning Commission
  • City staff
  • Provide ongoing tours of affordable housing

Affordable housing developers

  • Recoverable grants/advances for pre-development costs

 

Protect Tenants’ and Homeless Rights

  • Pass a Homeless Bill of Rights
  • Increase relocation benefits
  • Just cause eviction
  • Prohibit discrimination against rent subsidy recipients
  • Effective ban on retaliation or eviction on tenants who exercise their rights
  • Improved code enforcement program that improves housing quality but does not dislocate tenants
  • Rent escrow options for noncompliant buildings
  • Lead-safe work practices
  • Consequences for slumlords
  • Permanent supportive housing in every district
  • Three motels converted to homeless housing in 5 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expand efforts beyond Pasadena to adjacent cities by partnering with groups that go beyond Pasadena’s boarders:

  • PUSD,
  • Women’s League,
  • Family Promise,
  • Habitat,
  • SCAG (Southern Cal Assoc of Governments),
  • San Gabriel Valley Council of Government
  • LA  Voice

 

General Public

  • Routinely translate policy documents into plain English and relevant languages
  • Distribute projects more evenly throughout the City
  • Inventory and monitor rents
  • Identify at-risk affordable housing and monitor for possible City intervention
  • Funding priorities should favor affordable rentals over ownership
  • community members, including those with children and with disabilities
  • Refrain from having important policy determinations made by staff
  • Hold meetings in a manner that is accessible to low income
  • Make relevant materials (including staff reports) available online
  • allow adequate opportunity to analyze (more than 72 hours) in advance

 

 

 

    

Inclusionary housing proposal from the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group

22 Mar

Inclusionary helps address the urgent need for affordable housing, at no cost to the city.  Public subsidies for affordable housing are hard to come by, so asking the private market to supply a percentage of affordable units or in lieu fee to create affordable units is one of the national best practices today.  Pasadena’s inclusionary housing policies have been on the forefront, demonstrating courageous leadership by producing units despite the risk of lawsuits. This great policy can be even greater with the continued leadership of the City Council. Inclusionary policies play a fundamental role in limiting traffic and preserving the social and economic diversity within communities.

Our local housing group has been researching inclusionary policies across the country for the past year. Our research and what we feel is best for our city is outlined below. So far, we have presented it to the planning commission, the planning and housing staff, and the city council. Each public body has expressed their appreciation for our hard work, and how we operate. We hope that many of these ideas will be incorporated into the final, updated version of our local inclusionary ordinance. Thankfully, it looks like all of them have been put into the city’s feasibility study.

Summary:

1.Increase the Inclusionary set aside:

25% in all areas of the city except TOD’s. as follows:
EXTREMELY LOW: 5%     VERY LOW:5%       LOW: 7%     MODERATE: 8%   TOTAL =  25

We have done a preliminary feasibility analysis of this and the profit margin is still over 13% return, with section 8 subsidy applied to the extremely low option. The Holly Street Apartments are a good example of including some Section 8.

30% within a quarter mile of TOD’s as follows:

EXTREMELY LOW: 6%       VERY LOW: 6%                    LOW: 9%               MODERATE: 9%  TOTAL= 30%

Santa Monica and Hawaii both have 30% set aside in their policies. It is the policy of Metro that any of their land have 35% affordability. With the windfall of land cost due to increased densities, plus the significant investment of public transportation, it is only fair that a sizeable percent of TOD sites provide a higher percent of affordable units. The logical place for lower income units is in TOD sites.

The approved Pasadena Housing Element calls for the city by 2016 to explore two different set aside percentages, for TOD sites and the rest of the city. The gentrifying and displacing power of TOD sites has moved Denver and Seattle to create special funds to achieve TOAH—Transit Oriented Affordable Housing.

2. Achieve a higher percent of units and Integrated Housing, across the spectrum of Incomes.
Developers must provide a mix of units and the full percentage of set aside units. No credits, (trade downs) or lower percent of units allowed to be set aside in exchange for very-low or low-income units. Even in the case of state density bonus, the full 25% (and 30% in TOD) sites must be achieved. The mix of units must be at the various income bands as listed in Item 1 above.

  • There is one exception to this, to allow a calculation based on the number of bedrooms to accommodate more families.  This is especially important considering the decrease in PUSD enrollment. A three bedroom unit can be considered as 1.5% of a unit when calculating the overall 25% or 30% set aside.

3. Provide a broader menu of incentives.

Allow for even less parking requirements than is already permitted in the case very low income, including exemption of any parking for extremely low income. This will also further address traffic concerns. And in the case of mixed-use complexes allow for day/night uses of shared parking spaces, especially in TODs. Provide incentives with a shared electric car and charging stations, where resident and sign-up for its use.

4. Change the policy to begin at 8 units or more and have developments of 2-7 units either provide a unit or pay a fee. Daily City, San Mateo County, Menlo Park, require the IZ to provide units in projects of 5 units or more. Burlingame, East Palo Alto and South San Francisco, require units in projects of 4 or more units. In West Hollywood, 2 – 10 Unit Projects require a fee or a unit. Santa Monica requires a fee for 2 or 3 units. Menlo Park requires that with for-sale housing, 1-3 units must pay 1% of sales price; 4-6 units 2%; and 7-9 units 3% of the sales price. Any projects with above 10 units 3% of the sales price of all units sold pay a fee. San Carlos has a similar valuation for fees at 1% for 2-6 units, and 2% above that.

5. We agree with the results of city’s nexus study that the in-lieu fee must be increased. We ask that it be adopted on Oct. 15 and done so retroactively to those projects now doing preliminary reviews will be assessed a higher fee. We believe that the new fee structure, once passed does not need to be revisited in the feasibility study. We would lose sorely needed inclusionary in lieu fee dollars by delaying this vote. But we have one caveat, that all projects opting to pay the fee, must still include at least one fourth of the full required percent of set aside units. (Chicago’s IZ is set up this way)

 Why the fee is so important: With this fee, a total of 691 affordable units (not including the 533 inclusionary units developed) have been assisted consisting of new production projects (176 units) and rehabilitation/affordability preservation projects (515 units). With an increased fee, the city can preserve and produce even more affordable units to help address the severe housing crisis, with 49% of the city spending more than 50% of their income on housing and house the 677 persons experiencing homelessness.

6. Offsite units must be built concurrently with the primary market-rate project. This is presently in the ordinance, but we want to reinforce this to allow no exceptions

7. Offsite Option: require developers to increase affordable units by an additional 25% and place the units into a newly formed Community Land Trust once developed. This will assure long term affordability. In Santa Monica, off site condos must provide 25% more units. San Carlos requires 10% more affordable units if built off site see. In Palo Alto, offsite construction is allowed only if the number of units provided offsite exceeds what they would have obtained onsite and in South SF if  furthers another housing goal identified in its Housing Element.

8. Offsite Option: require developers to increase affordable units by an additional 25% and place the units into a newly formed Community Land Trust once developed. This will assure long term affordability. In Santa Monica, off site condos must provide 25% more units. San Carlos requires 10% more affordable units if built off site see. In Palo Alto, offsite construction is allowed only if the number of units provided offsite exceeds what they would have obtained onsite and in South SF if  furthers another housing goal identified in its Housing Element.

9. Monitoring the Units The city is doing a good job of monitoring the units, but it can be burdensome and take time away from efforts to preserve and produce more affordable housing stock. Therefore we recommend that a task force be formed to explore creating a city initiated Community Land Trust (CLT) and later spin it off as was done in the city of Irvine. The benefits of a CLT are as follows:

  1. The CLT would monitor IZ rental units to assure that they remain affordable in perpetuity. Additionally the CLT will assure that ownership units remain owner-occupied, affordable and well maintained to uphold their resale value. The CLT will save the city money by taking on these responsibilities.
  2. A CLT would provide a mechanism for the homeowners and owners of affordable housing developments to place homes into the trust in order to preserve affordability in perpetuity so that when expensive covenants and HUD deals are mature, and they have been placed in the trust, these subsidies are not lost.

10. Allow units to be built in project area B. The average home price in NW Pasadena is pushing $800,000. This area no longer has an over-concentration of affordable housing, but the opposite. Due to a lack of affordable housing, long term residents are being displaced. Right now the densities in project area B are too low to allow inclusionary projects. This area either needs to be up zoned in transportation corridors so that some inclusionary projects are possible or also given the opportunity to have off site IZ projects (or both)

11. Include Condo Conversions as part of the inclusionary housing ordinance. When an apartment owner decides to convert units into for-sale condos, 30% must be affordable with first right of refusal for existing residents, and the levels of affordability determined within the 30% designed to help retain existing residents. Sufficient time to allow for credit repair, obtain down payment assistance, and other tools must be in place to assure a meaningful and genuine opportunity for existing residents to consider purchasing their unit. This helps the city to reach their goal to prevent displacement. In the case of condo conversions, on-site affordable and in lieu fees options are not applicable. Additionally, these units would not necessarily be placed into the CLT, this would be discretionary choice on the part of the apartment owner. (Page E-12 Pasadena Housing Element describes the city’s goals to wed condo conversions to the inclusionary policy in order to prevent displacement.)

Page E-10 of the Pasadena HE states that:

“…many older and modestly priced apartments are being converted to condominiums. Approximately 800 units have converted since 2001, with an increase in applications in recent years. While providing more affordable ownership opportunities, residents are still being displaced.”

 

 

Anti-camping ORDINANCE TALKING POINTS

22 Mar

In 2016 GPAHG, our local housing group, was able to stop a proposed anti-camping ordinance which would have criminalized homelessness in Old Pasadena and other business districts. Here is the research and the talking points we used in addressing the Pasadena City Council:

Anti-camping ORDINANCE TALKING POINTS

Download as a PDF here: Talking Points-Anti-camping and aggressive panhandling talking points

Causes and Consequences of Criminalizing Behaviors Associated with Homelessness

  1. Homelessness is caused by a severe shortage of affordable housing.
  1. There is a direct correlation between the cuts in funding for affordable housing and the rise of homelessness and anti-camping measures.
  • HUD’s low- to moderate-income housing budget authority fell by 77 percent between 1978 and 1983. Homelessness is primarily caused by a severe shortage of affordable housing, exacerbated by an 85% reduction in federal funding for affordable housing. Despite these cuts, two states and nineteen cities have now ended homelessness for veterans. One of the few housing programs that has not been cut is funding for permanent supportive housing. This can be access by a city if there is land set aside to build this. Margaret McAustin is the first to make sure this is built in her district. Marv’s place looks like a small Mediterranean Villa. It just won an award as one of the best permanent supportive housing in all of Southern California. We need this in very district.

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/veteran_information/mayors_challenge/

  1. There has been a significant rise in laws criminalizing homeless people in California, but these laws have only worsened, not solved, the problem.
  • UC BerkeleyLaw’s Policy Advocacy Clinic conducted an extensive study of this problem in 2015 and concluded that “criminalization harms homeless people and perpetuates poverty by restricting access to the social safety net, affordable housing, and employment opportunities.” Since 2000, statewide arrests for “vagrancy” offenses have increased by 77 percent, even as arrests for “drunkenness” and “disorderly conduct” have decreased by 16 percent and 48 percent, respectively, suggesting that homeless people are being punished for their status, not their behavior. http://www.homelesslivesmatterberkeley.org/pdf/CA_New_Vagrancy_Laws.pdf
  1. Criminalization measures do nothing to address the underlying causes of homelessness
  1. Pasadena could lose HUD funding to address homelessness if it is found to have criminalized homeless people. In the April 11, 2016, Bill Huang, Pasadena’s housing director was asked if this was the case and he agreed.
  1. The enforcement of anti-homeless laws is expensive, directing limited resources away from efforts that would effectively and humanely reduce homelessness.
  • At the City Council meeting on April 11th, Tyron Hampton asked Police Chief Philip Sanchez what would happen if someone was arrested for camping/sleeping. He said that after making make arrests, then going to court, and then to be checked out at Huntington Hospital, in the end they would be brought back to the streets. The expensive cost to tax payers would be better spent on permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Research shows that it costs taxpayers approximately $40,000 a year for homeless people to stay on the street, and the cost to house a homeless person about $20,000 a year. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/mar/12/shaun-donovan/hud-secretary-says-homeless-person-costs-taxpayers/7.

The enactment of anti-homeless laws raises significant moral, spiritual and legal questions about constitutional rights:

  1. It could be cruel and unusual punishment if homelessness is criminalized without providing sufficient indoor places of shelter. In April when the City Council gave the directive to the City Attorney to begin crafting this ordinance, the lawyer said that passing this new ordinance could violate the Eighth Amendment. In 2006 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held a Los Angeles municipal law that prohibited sitting, lying, or sleeping in public places violated homeless people’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from “cruel and unusual punishment” since homeless people need to sleep and rest and the city did not provide them with the means to do so. This ruling called into question CA State Municipal Code 647 (e) which states that “lodging in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public of private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or control of it.” Municipalities that have tried to implement this law could face law suits if they do so. Public funds created public walkways and the public should have a right to use them if the is no other legal place to rest.

 

8.    It is immoral and against God’s laws to prevent someone from shelter and rest. Within most religious teachings, including Christianity, believers are directed to protect the rights of the poor and those without a home. “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge” (Proverbs 29:7).  “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you” (Leviticus 25:35-36 )  See https://www.openbible.info/topics/helping_the_homeless

9.    It is against the UN International Declaration of Human Rights to prevent sleeping which is a basic human need to survive. The US was a signatory of UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This Declaration is not legally binding but sets a moral standard by which nations are judged and to which they are supposed to aspire. Article 25 states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.” In 1949, Congress enacted the US Housing Act, which called for “a decent and suitable living environment for every American family.”  Our nation’s and our city’s aspirational goal is to provide affordable housing for everyone, not criminalize those who can’t afford housing. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_housing

Talking Points-Anti-camping and aggressive panhandling talking points: Myths and Stereotypes about Homelessness

For year’s cities and their residents have been dealing with how to respond to the realities modern homelessness and poverty. We often labelled those without a home as “the homeless” and as people who ask for money in public areas as panhandlers.  These two behaviors are separate but are often cited together by cities addressing “The Homelessness Issue”.  Cities are often prompted to respond in some manner, usually through criminalization measures, due to public complaints, demands on law enforcement and legal departments, public health and public safety concerns, which are at times perpetuated by stereotypes and improper understanding of human relations.

  1. Myth: People who beg on the street make vast amounts of money. A Pasadena police officer publicly stated that panhandlers make $200 an hour in Pasadena.

Reality: This is a rumor that has been passed around. If true, this would make Pasadena the most generous city in California. In San Francisco, a study showed that panhandlers average $25 per day.  Regardless perceptions the community has of persons who are asking for money, it is still right to free speech.

  1. Myth: “Homeless people” are “service-resistant,” because they want to live on the streets. A police officer from Pasadena’s Hope Team stated that 80% of homeless people are “service resistant” implying homeless folks prefer living on the street.

Reality: t is true that there are people who do not want to go to shelters, or be forced into treatment. Some prefer jail to a treatment center. Many suffer from mental illness or substance use issues making them wary of authorities.  With time and trust building on the part of HOPE team and Coordinated Entry System and Street Outreach teams, many are now in housing. The reason why permanent Supportive Housing is so effective is that it provides permanent housing first—bypassing the shelters and transitional housing, thus ending homelessness. Folks can enter housing, get stable and then work on their issues. One doctor who works with homeless people said that he wishes he could write a prescription an apartment and then renew it twelve times! Supportive housing doesn’t need to be renewed.

  • Pasadena has housed over 80 of the most chronically homeless and Utah has housed 90% of its chronically homeless folk using the Housing First model, which offers chronically homeless people a permanent, affordable home with wrap-around services if they are desired. With the right approach, the vast majority of homeless people are willing and able to be housed and many will seek treatment voluntarily when they are ready. http://www.npr.org/2015/12/10/459100751/utah-reduced-chronic-homelessness-by-91-percent-heres-how
  1. Myth: Recent changes to State Laws have seen the release of large numbers of former inmates from jails, and most end up homeless, leading to an increase in crime.

Reality: Thanks to Prop 57, and requirements by the Supreme Court to reduce prison crowding, California has dramatically lowered incarceration—by about 55,000 inmates since 2006—with no broad increase in crime.

  1. Myth: We need more laws to address camping on the street.

Reality: Existing laws and codes that address these behaviors. Pasadena police do not need “new tools,” i.e. more stringent laws, to protect the public from aggressive panhandlers and camping.  These current laws already provide ample protection to businesses and property owners:

  1. If anyone leaves something (e.g. a tent or sleeping bag) on someone else’s private property, the owner can toss it in the trash or sell it as abandoned property. If someone leaves their property on a publicly owned site, according to Officer Domino Scott-Jackson, police have a right to evict people from a public place using a 72 hour notice and at hour 73, their belongings can then be removed. Items must be kept in storage for 30 days. If they aren’t claimed, they can be disposed of.\
  2. Property owners have a right to put up a No Trespassing sign on their property. If someone goes on their property without permission to do so, they can call the police and the police on request of the owner can arrest the person for trespassing under Penal Code (PC) 602(o)(2).
  3. A business owner can file a “Trespass Enforcement Authorization Letter” with the police department that allows officers to make arrests of those individuals who are on the property after hours. If that letter were not on file, the officers could not request the individuals to leave or make any arrests. They would have to contact the owners every single time they find people at the property to investigate whether or not the person has permission from the owner to be there.
  4. A person can be arrested for illegal camping or lodging under Pasadena Municipal code(PMC) 3.24.110(8) and/or Penal Code(PC) 647(e)
  5. A person in possession of a shopping cart (with an identified business) could face a violation of PMC9.62.070 and PC485.
  6. Businesses and churches that are open to the public have the right to ask folks to leave under PC602(o)(2). When the owner asks someone to leave and they refuse, they can be arrested.
  7. Currently, it’s not illegal to pan-handle in Pasadena, as long as you are not blocking the driveway, impeding traffic or standing in the street (See Vehicle Code 22520.5(a) – infraction). But threatening behavior by a panhandler can be considered “accosting,” a crime according to California Penal Code Section 647.

If someone feels harassed by a pan handler, a citizen’s arrest can be made, showing that the panhandler intends to do something illegal, under code PC647(c), which addresses  aggressive panhandling.

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How to plan a One-Day Housing Justice for your community

8 Mar

How to start a Housing Justice Institute

A dark side to the California dream: How the state Constitution makes affordable housing hard to build–should we undo Article 34?

3 Feb

A dark side to the California dream: How the state Constitution makes affordable housing hard to build

A dark side to the California dream: How the state Constitution makes affordable housing hard to build

 “A 1951 hearing on public housing in Los Angeles. A year prior, Californians added to the state constitution a requirement for voter approval before the building of public housing, a provision that still exists. (Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images)”

“In 1950, Californians voted to put a provision in the state Constitution that makes it harder for poor people to find a place to live.

Article 34, which remains in effect, requires voter approval before public housing is built in a community. At the time it passed, the real estate industry argued taxpayers should have a right to vote on low-income housing projects because they were publicly funded infrastructure similar to schools or roads. The campaign also appealed to racist fears about integrating neighborhoods and featured heated rhetoric about the need to combat socialism……”

I’d love to know what you think of this article in today’s LA Times? Do you think that article 34 should be repealed? And if so, do you think that finally, the time is right?

I was born in 1953, three years after this provision was passed. I was raised in Yorba Linda, CA a predominately all white community with large lots and no zoning for multifamily units. I grew up oblivious of what was going on outside of my Orange County world. I’m so grateful for the chance today to live in  Pasadena, a mixed income and a racially mixed community. But every day I can see the long shadows of consequences of policies like Article 34.

Jill Shook, Executive Director of Making Housing and Community Happen.

Exciting Part Time Job Opportunity with Making Housing and Community Happen

1 Feb

Office assistant needed to help the Executive Director of startup nonprofit called Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH) with administrative duties. MHCH is committed to housing justice and ending homelessness through advocacy, education and community engagement. Requirements: loves to learn, strong computer skills (ability to work with Excel, Outlook, social media, etc.), organizational skills and  an interest in learning about faith-rooted housing justice and policy.

Hours: 10 hours a week. Pay: $20/hour or $9,600 a year. Potential for more hours as organization grows. Interviews will begin in mid-February. Start date: around Feb 18. Send letter and resume to Jill Shook at jill@makinghousinghappen.com.

Qualifications: loves to learn, strong computer skills (ability to work with Excel, Outlook, social media, etc.), organizational skills and  an interest in learning about faith-rooted housing justice and policy. Specific tasks: filing, clipping newspaper articles, phone calling, database management, keeping track of members and donors, and attending meetings.

Responsibilities: filing, clipping newspaper articles, phone calling, database management, keeping track of members and donors, and attending meetings.

  • Filing, scanning and categorizing business cards
  • Clipping newspaper articles, link to blog
  • Someone who can work with programs like Excel, Word, etc.
  • Data base management
  • Able to make calls
  • Trouble shoot computer and software issues
  • Keeping track of members, donors, volunteers
  • Attend the GPAHG monthly meetings the 4th Tuesday of each month, keep track of reports and members of sub-committees
  • Develop a notebook with info about organization with monthly minutes to bring to meetings
  • Set up a system to thank donors
  • Post on Facebook and other online networks
  • Assist the executive director as needed in other areas

Please review some of the posts on this blog and the http://www.makinghousinghappen.com for more information.

The Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG)  is part of Making Housing and Community Happen. The Vision and Mission of GPAHG are as follows:

Vision:  All Pasadena residents shall have safe, quality, accessible, and affordable housing; people are not displaced from the community, and our community is racially, ethnically and socially diverse.

Mission:  GPAHG educates, advocates, and acts to provide safe, clean, and affordable housing for low, very-low, and no-income residents of the greater Pasadena area. 

 

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Root Causes of Segregation and Today’s Housing Crisis and Best Practices to End Homelessness

28 Dec

Root Causes of segregation and today's housing Crisis, best pra

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Envisioning affordable housing past and future….and how to get there!

28 Dec

Envisioning affordable housing past and future Saturday, Jan 5t.jpg

Update on my ministry and cancer journey

12 Nov

Dear Friends and Supporters,

May 16, 2018 survey found that 26 percent of Americans age 18-64 struggled to pay medical bills. According to the U.S. Census, that’s 52 million adults.  One million said they declared bankruptcy.  Some have gone into foreclosure.  One friend who’s father just passed away of cancer had to remortgage their home.  After what I have experienced in the past two months, I understand why.  Health care reform is long overdue. Health care cost are keeping people trapped in poverty and pushing many onto our streets. 

Some of you have already learned and others don’t yet know that I have been diagnosed with a type of slow-growing cancer called Follicular Lymphoma. Thankfully, it is slomom and jilw-growing and can be treated, but there is no cure. With treatment there is a 94% chance of survival, without 50%. But we know that God our Healer is big and able to do more than we can imagine.  It has been a whirlwind the past two months. Many have expressed a desire to learn what is happening with me.  The following timeline helps to explain why I have barely had a spare moment these past two months.  I has been a healing exercise for me to write this out, but you some of you may want to skim or skip the ministry update at the end.

donnaAugust. 31: I was at Shell Beach on the California Central coast, helping my sweet 88-year old Mom find a new once-a-week helper. In all the fast-paced urgency to find someone before I had to drive back to Pasadena I snuck in a shower and was disturbed by a lump I felt in my armpit—so I ran to the phone and made an appointment with my doctor. That week I had a flu shot and my sister said that sometimes swelling can be a reaction.

Sept 7: Dr. Cleo said that is was likely nothing—asking me how I go about shaving and recommended not to use a razor but to wax. But just in case, she sent me to get a sonogram that day. I waited almost two hours to get in, but the care I received was worth it. They were very concerned, called in the radiologist and did a biopsy on the spot.

Sept 8-21: Anthony and I had a never-to-be forgotten and much needed vacation in Hawaii, thanks to frequent flyer miles and Quaker hospitality it was affordable—and powerful to stay with locals and partake in Hawaiian activism. We received the call while lying on a quiet beach with deep blue sky and ocean, and verdant palm trees. The lump was indeed cancerous. It was follicular lymphoma. Dr Cleo explained that of all the cancers, this was the best kind since it is slow growing. She wanted to break the news after the trip, but what a better place to hear such news cushioned in such beauty. God had totally prepared me; I was actually not surprised.

Sept 25: Anthony and I met with Dr. Chung, the City of Hope oncologist in Arcadia, and he ordered PET and CT scans so we would know if it had spread. We were impressed that they got me an appointment the next day!  Dr. Chung assured me that it would be okay to keep my plans to attend a housing conference in Pittsburgh the next week.

Sept 26: A marathon test day—in the morning back to Arcadia with Dr. Chung to do a bone marrow test to see if it had spread into the marrow. He was able to get the perfect sample and even showed it to me—it looked like a tiny red pipe cleaner. But I don’t recall anything hurting so badly—it was extremely painful, even with a local anesthesia. From there I spent most the day preparing for, doing and recovering from the very long process of CT and PET scans.

Oct. 1-4. Again Quaker hospitably came through with a $25 a night stay in the Pittsburg Meeting Guest House making this trip affordable with delightful Uber trips to and from the conference. It was fabulous in every way! My hope is to have students from the One-Year Housing Justice Institute attend this Grounded Solutions conference next year.

Oct. 9: Anthony and I met with Dr. Chung to learn of the bone marrow, CT and PET scan results. I was not as emotionally prepared this time hear that it had spread. The area in my armpit measured 1” by 1.6”, plus two small spots in my gut and one tiny one in my clavicle.  But thankfully, none in my bone marrow!

Oct. 11: We went to see Dr. Budde for a second opinion. She is a renowned follicular lymphoma specialist and researcher on the City of Hope main campus in Duarte.  We waited four hours past our appointment time before we got to see her! She highly recommended that we go with a treatment plan of Rituximab plus Revlimid—a new front line use for follicular lymphoma. So new that it is not yet in the written protocols for insurance companies, but demonstrated via studies as recent as June 2018 that this combo of treatments significantly lower the side effects. This drug is essentially the same drug that created the Thalidomide babies in 60s born with deformed limb—therefore pregnant women cannot take this. No problem here since I had a hysterectomy in 2009 and just turned 65 on Nov. 1st.

Oct. 14: Back to see Dr. Chung to finalize the treatment plan and begin the marathon effort to figure out how to pay for it. Revlimid costs $165,000 a year in the US.  (My brother who lives in Australia called for my birthday. I was so impressed that he knew about Revlimid. It was just approved there, and in Australia it cost $43,000 because there on caps on what can be charged.) Blue Shield took a week before letting us know that they had denied its use and approved only 8 of the 20 treatments of Rituximab and at a lower dosage. How is it possible that an insurance company can determine your treatment plan above the word of a world-renown expert? Dr. Chung sent in an appeal. That took a week! Blue Shield finally approved the drugs at $16,000 a month!! Was there a way to get these meds covered without having to sell the home we had just paid off the week before?

It was now four days before my 65th birthday—when I could receive Medicare. I was in a race against time to find a new part D insurance company that would cover the Revlimid. I could feel the cancer growing in size in my armpit and the pain increasing.  I spend 8 hours on Monday, Oct. 29th and 8 hours on Tue, Oct. 30th on the phone calling companies and going over options with Marty, our insurance agent.  Nothing. By mid-Tuesday our agent had to attend to other clients but he gave me “homework assignments” –brilliant ideas—to find out the name of the pharmacy that City of Hope uses for Revlimid and ask what insurance companies cover it, and to call the company that makes  Revlimid, based in New Jersey. Bingo! This helped me decide on a Part D carrier…. Optum RX, but they are actually off the hook, because the Revlimid Company has a patient assistance program that we qualify for because of our lower income status—but just until Jan. 1st. So we will need to re-apply and hopefully again qualify.  Please pray.

We were to leave for the Christian Community Development Conference in Chicago on Oct 31, but we were too stressed and exhausted to consider going. Anthony spent the afternoon seeking to cancel our lodging and flights with the trip insurance.  I have not missed a CCDA conference in over 20 years. It was a huge loss, but we just were not up for it.

Nov. 8: From Nov. 1-8, after many more calls to get all the paperwork signed and submitted by the doctor before the end of the east coast business day (we lost several days before treatment could begin due to the time difference) on Thursday, Nov. 8th, we were scheduled for the first Rituximab treatment.  Everyone at the center was delightful, making us as comfortable as possible, and explaining it all so clearly. It took from 9am to 2:30pm for the first intravenous drip treatment since they slowly build up to a bigger dosage, checking vitals every half hour. They filled me up with Benadryl to minimize reactions—so the rest of that day I was half asleep. We go back for this intravenous treatment once a week a month, then once a month for 3 months, then once every two months. The full treatment for both the Rituximab and Revlimid is 2 years.

Nov. 9:   The Revlimid arrived in the mail. I take the pills once a day for three weeks, then one week off. I figure the pills are worth about $800 each. So I am praying like crazy that they are worth their cost and clean up this cancer!

anthony and jillNov. 11: It’s been four days since I’ve  started treatment and I thank God that there have been no major side effects—super thirsty, some fast heartbeat that settles if I rest, slightly lightheaded, and some tiredness. I was able to sing loud praises in church this morning, and enjoy fellowship.  Amazingly, I have been able to continue many ministry efforts squeezed between doctors’ appointments. Enjoy this update.

 

Ministry Update

  1. The two weekly Bible studies in our home, one with Mark who was formerly homeless and stays in our back house, continue to draw us closer together, closer to God and nurture us for the work that God has called us to do. Our monthly Quaker Bible study steadily grows both in size and depth. It is a huge blessing for us all as we meet God in the midst of sharing our impressions, experiences and insights
  2. Anthony and I were interviewed by a documentarian about the marriage mentoring course that we took that so helped us. Now we are featured on the Hope 4 Marriage website! See: http://www.hope4marriages.org/  I’m meeting with a pastor in the process of divorce, sharing tid bits of what we learned as she is ready to hear it.
  3. I have been able to keep several speaking engagements for a class at Cal Lutheran and in Spanish at for a course at Fuller Seminary.
  4. jil at partyIn the midst of this cancer journey on Oct. 27th the nonprofit we started, Making Housing and Community Happen was launched with a fund raiser with over 100 attending, raising over $3,000. This is a great start! Due to this cancer diagnosis, I am keenly aware of the need to hire staff. If you feel so led and are not yet giving to Mission Door, please prayerfully consider a one time or a regular contribution. See info below.
  5. Anthony is taking leadership in advocating for homeless housing. Research from
    mercy housing

    Mercy Housing’s Orchard House is a motel conversion in Santa Ana with 71 units for formerly homeless folks. It has significant environmental features.

    years of experience show that permanent supportive housing (PSH) ends homelessness. Pasadena wisely passed an ordinance to allow problem motels be converted into PSH. Presently in some motels rooms are rented hourly, drugs and homelessness abound. When converted all residents are well vetted, each has a case manager and one manager lives on site. Local businesses will see homeless neighbors housed as opposed to sleeping in their door ways. Anthony has a solid team in place with excellent ideas for reaching out to churches close to potential motels.

  6. I met Anne Marie and her husband Carlos because they want to build a back house anne marie(Accessory Dwelling Unit-ADUs) and were having trouble with the city’s impossible requirements. For all of Pasadena our ADU team was able lower the property size requirement and alleviate the $20,000 impact fee in exchange for affordable housing, or in the case of a family member living in the unit.  Anne Marie is now leading an effort to help shape the city’s pilot program to offer low-cost loans for those who wish to convert their garage or build a detached unit if they are made available to a low income resident at risk of becoming homeless.
  7. Our Inclusionary housing team (Inclusionary is where all developers set aside a percent of housing to be affordable, like a biblical tithe) proposed that all 533 affordable units produced via this policy should be placed into, and monitored by a Community Land Trust (CLT). A CLT is an excellent model, with over 300 cities today utilizing CLTs to preserve housing affordability in perpetuity—today much of our affordable housing is opting to go market rate! Our housing director (who knows and loves Christ) has invited me to join him and others to discuss this on Nov. 20th with City Bank. I have been promoting this model for almost 15 years because it fits hand and glove with Leviticus 25 land use laws. The fact that the city is exploring this is a huge answer to prayer!
  8. Mercy is leading an effort to insure that Fuller Seminary sets aside all 167 of themercy and jill units on its campus that were created via the city’s inclusionary policy.
  9. As a result of the One-Day Housing justice Institute we did in Monrovia in April, we have trained leaders who are now working with a faith-based team to capture a percentage of all the 2,000 new housing units Monrovia plans to build, to be set aside as affordable. Carol, speaking here at the fund raiser is one of those leaders.

We ask the “why” questions. Why are 53,000 people living in the streets in LA County? Why is our system not working for the “least of these” and how can follow the example of Jesus and all the prophets to change laws and allocations of resources to be more compassionate and just?  We see policy change as a ministry, which translates into transformed lives, transformed cities where God is redeeming the cancer in our systems to bring about housing justice.  Rejoice with us in God’s healing of our bodies, our cities, our decision makers and those of us helping to shape those decisions.  To God be the glory!

With deep gratefulness to you and with joy in this amazing journey,

 Jill

Our fund raising goal: $15,000 by Jan 1st to hire a grant writer, and part-time assistant.

 You can contribute to Making Housing and Community Happen two ways:

On line: https://makinghousinghappen.wedid.it/

Or, send monthly checks made out to “Social Good Fund” with “Making Housing and Community Happen” in memo line to:

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

To contribute to Jill Shook’s missionary support with Missions Door you can contribute several ways, on line:       http://www.missionsdoor.org/missionaries/shook-jill

Or send checks to Missions Door

2530 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80205

Call to set up a credit card or direct deposit 303-308-1818

 Jill’s contact information:  

Blog: makinghousinghappen.net 

Website: makinghousinghappen.com,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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