The Congregational Land Committee of the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing group is requesting your support.

26 May

One of the biggest obstacles to building affordable housing is a lack of sites. A significant number of churches in Pasadena desire to have affordable housing on their excess land. In fact, one church is ready to pitch a proposal for 48 units on their excess land to an affordable housing development partner and another is looking at around 100 units. Yet, most church land is not properly zoned to allow this use. To make it possible for any church in Pasadena that feels led to provide affordable housing on their property we are asking the city to make what is called an “overlay” zone.  This would apply to any church when 50% of the units to be build would be affordable. The overlay zone would allow:

  1. A density increase (i.e. a property zoned at 16 units per acre would increase to 32 units per acre).
  2. Church property that is zoned “commercial” to also become residential
  3. Church property that is zoned “public” to also become residential.

The following talking points show why this overlay zone is essential. Our request to the City for this overlay zone will not happen without the backing of Pasadena churches by demonstrating their support for such a zoning change.

Talking point #1  The use of excess church land for affordable housing meets a huge need. Los Angeles County is in a severe affordable housing and homelessness crisis, with nearly 60,000 homeless persons and over 500,000 affordable housing units needed to meet demand. Half a million people in LA County spend 90% of their income on rent. There has been a 65% increase in seniors becoming homeless in the past 3 years. There is also a severe lack of available, reasonably priced and permissively zoned sites to build affordable housing in Pasadena as well as in most of Los Angeles County.  The MHCH Congregational Land Committee addresses this problem by supporting religious organizations interested in leveraging their land for affordable housing development. Yet, none of the many churches we have worked with have the proper zoning needed to build affordable housing. It can cost thousands of dollars for one church to make the needed zoning changes. We are asking for an overlay zone allows for this “by right”, meaning that it is permitted without this onerous process and expense.  “By right” will enable affordable housing developers to shorten the time to develop the housing and remove much of the risk involved for an affordable housing developer.

Talking point #2: Churches have a successful track record of partnering with affordable housing developers to provide affordable dwellings on their excess land. Some churches have taken advantage of large parking lots that go empty during the week, buildings constructed for congregations much larger than is needed today, or other property that can be re-purposed.  In building affordable housing, there can be economic benefit for the church as well as to those needing to be housed. In some cases, affordable housing developers have provided additional parking for the church. For example, Garden Grove United Methodist Church entered into a long-term ground lease with Jamboree Housing Corporation, using 2.2 acres of the church’s former parking lots and vacant land to develop 47 units of family housing, 16 units of senior housing, a community center, the Orange County Head Start Learning Center and offices for multiple local non-profits. While there are many successful examples of churches utilizing their excess land for affordable housing, most churches are wary of trying because they lack expertise or knowledge. Our team has the experience and know how to walk a church through an idea, discernment, feasibility and to a concept and then a proposal that would be pitched to potential affordable housing development partners.  To shore up this process to make it attractive to a development partner, an over-lay zone would expedite the process and save thousands of by making the zoning “by right”, meaning that it is permitted without the onerous process and expense of a zone change.

Talking point #3: Our approach empowers churches to be successful. Helping the church to discern its vision and find a suitable and trustworthy developer is highly complex and technical work, for which most congregations lack expertise. Efforts to incentivize congregational land have often failed because they either promote one-size-fits-all solutions or imagine that congregations themselves can become developers. Our team of professional city planners, architects and affordable housing project managers listens to congregations individually and applies our extensive knowledge of affordable housing, zoning and community engagement to craft site plans that mix the congregation’s needs with new affordable housing buildings, with corresponding funding strategies. We facilitate dialogues with religious leaders, congregations, City staff and elected officials and communities and modify the plans until a consensus solution is identified, then help congregations choose an experienced developer to build the project. Because of our solid relationship and the respect, we have earned with the city elected officials and staff, we believe that with the support of Pasadena churches an overlay zone can be passed. This would put Pasadena churches on the map for progressive policy that other cities can emulate.

​Talking point #4: The opportunity for churches to create affordable housing on their excess land is huge. In Pasadena, for example, we estimate that there is capacity to build 2,000-5,000 units of affordable housing on excess congregational land. The Mayor of Pasadena and the County of Los Angeles support our efforts, recognizing the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation and base of support in the community. Church land can be zoned in any number of ways: public, commercial, residential and then if residential, it may have 16 units per acre which is too limiting to create a feasible project.  Making it possible churches to have affordable housing built on their excess land, we are asking that this over-lay zone would go into effect when 50% of the units to be build would be affordable. The overlay zone would allow:

  1. A density increase (i.e. a property zoned at 16 units per acre would increase to 32 units per acre).
  2. Church property that is zoned “commercial” to also become residential
  3. Church property that is zoned “public” to also become residential.

Talking point #5: The advantages. Using church land is a huge opportunity for developers to have feasible and successful projects. Developers don’t have to buy land in advance or carry the insurance cost. They can be more confident of community support since they have the support of a church which is part of a neighborhood. The adverse effects of NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) are minimized. Yet, if churches wish to supply 50% or more of their units as affordable, the onerous cost and time needed to create a zoning change can significantly lowered if there is an overlay zone in place that would allow for: 

  1. A reasonable density increase (i.e. a property zoned at 16 units per acre would increase to 32 units per acre).
  2. Church property that is zoned “commercial” to also become residential
  3. Church property that is zoned “public” to also become residential.

Talking Point #6. The opportunity. Church attendance is declining, Gallop says that 69% of U.S. adults were members of a church in 1998-2000, compared with 52% in 2016-2018. This is particularly the case within land-rich older and mainline churches. Some Churches are looking to off-load parking lots, high-maintenance buildings, and extra space. Patrick Scriven’s compares deferred maintenance at a church “to an onion because it has layers and it stinks.” With shrinking congregations, many churches are unable to keep up. Affordable housing on church land has enabled churches to bless their communities, stay within mission and help to prevent the displacement due to the cost of housing, the very thing that is hurting many Pasadena churches.  Should a church feel called to consider affordable housing on their property, to facilitate this goal an overlay zone enabling all churches in the city to build on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis, especially now with the acute need for affordable housing. We are asking that this over-lay zone would go into effect when 50% of the units to be build would be affordable. The overlay zone would allow:

  1. A density increase (i.e. a property zoned at 16 units per acre would increase to 32 units per acre).
  2. Church property that is zoned “commercial” to also become residential
  3. Church property that is zoned “public” to also become residential.

Talking point #7.  We are asking for this zone change to be applied “By Right” which means the zone change would be applied automatically without discretionary approval if a church wishes to provide 50% of the units on their property to be affordable.

A good model for churches to follow is when Councilwoman Margaret McAustin initially met with her constituents in District 2, she made is clear that the decision has been made to build permanent supportive housing for 19 homeless families, but she asked neighbors to provide their input on the design, ingress, egress and more. She had a series of community meetings and this project built by National Core turned out stunning and is used as a model for permanent supporting housing for communities across the US.  

If neighbors who are fearful want to weigh in on projects, there are plenty of opportunities still do so, even if the project is “discretionary” as opposed to “by right” All affordable housing projects must go through design reviews and other public processes where the public can weigh in. It is part of the DNA of the Church Land Committee and any affordable housing developer to do extensive public engagement during pre-development phase. Typically concerns from disgruntled neighbors are addressed during this time. After many required public engagement meetings with neighborhood stake holders, they come to embrace projects. To access funding for such projects, public engagement is necessary.

This overlay zone could cut the cost of development by $100,000 and shave a year off its pre-development phase. This will attract quality developers and provide more certainty that the projects will be completed. All this is very good news.

Job opening: Community-Based Organizer

16 May

JOB DESCRIPTION

Job Title Community-Based Organizer

https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/north-fair-oaks-empowerment-initiat

 

Committee Name and Purpose The North Fair Oaks Empowerment Team is committed to restore a divested and neglected area of Pasadena, from Washington Ave to Woodbury Rd on N. Fair Oaks Ave,  to its once vibrant and thriving business community that is safe, beautiful and affordable for its residents.

 

 Job Summary:  The role of the community-based organizer is help empower the community to realize its goals and dreams around such issues as affordable housing, safe streets, and jobs. This is a part time position at 10 hours a week.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Build relationships with residents, business leaders, pastors and other stakeholders to hear the concerns and learn of the assets within area on N. Fair Oaks from Washington to Woodbury
  • Mobilize leaders to meet with City officials, commissions, staff and City Council as needed to move the priority goals forward.
  • Spend approximately a third of the time in the community, a third in working with the city and administrative work, and a third of the time supporting the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment team.
  • Prepare monthly reports to be presented to the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Team
  • Set up monthly meetings: agendas, invites, facilitators, secretary, etc.
  • Move the strategic goals forward: affordable housing, safety and beautification.
  • To set up a workable communication system that enables sharing of contact information, of word and excel, and attachments.
  • Make sure that minutes are taken and sent out within 3 days after each meeting, with clear action items listed and those who are responsible. Follow up on each person with their action item.

Competencies needed for success:

  • College degree with organizing course work and/or organizing experience
  • experience in community organizing and working with people of faith;
  • flexibility, patience, interest in people;
  • willingness to listen, learn and share the vision of the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative;
  • willingness to try new things, creatively solve problems, show initiative.
  • willingness to follow directions, able to follow through and complete tasks;
  • ability to keep careful records, well-organized;
  • openness to giving feedback and suggestions;
  • commitment to making the work fun.

 Desirable but not required:

  • Spanish language competency desirable but not required;
  • Living in or near the neighborhood is also desirable;

Time frame: 10 hrs/wk. The position will be offered with two-month a training/discernment time to assure it’s a good fit.

Compensation: $20 an hour, with the possibility of an increase if grants are funded and additional support raised.

How to apply:  By June 5th, please send your resume and a cover letter to:

 DeWalt Brown/Pasa Alta West

1773 North Fair Oaks Avenue

Pasadena, CA  91103

 

or email dewaltbrown@gmail.com with Resume and your name on the subject line.

 

 

 

 

 

Is density exacerbating the COVID crisis? What would Jesus say about density? by Jill Shook

26 Apr

Greek villageToday I read a slanted article in the LA Times suggesting that urban density is bad because it doesn’t allow for social distancing. On the surface this may seem true, but it went on to say the opposite.

NY City’s Manhattan district with some of the highest density shows the lowest rate of the virus, while poorer areas where people color live are the hardest hit. Early social distancing helped slow the virus in other cities that are very dense. San Francisco Bay area has had only 1,300 cases and  LA has had only 1,900, with some neighborhoods, believe it or not, surpassing the density’s of NY. Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, some of the highest density cities in the world, have had a fraction of the cases compared to NY.  Density is not the problem. See: .Virus ruins state’s plan for urban density

One of my doctoral courses had us climbing to the top of a high rise apartment building in Hong Kong to meet families living on the roof with just a few boards and bunks to create a home for themselves. I was appalled at seeing this utter poverty amidst such wealth in all the stories below. Anthony Manousos, my husband, can’t get out of his mind a picture he saw of 400 sq ft studio apartment in Hollywood where three families are jammed into a tiny space with bunk beds stacked up to the ceiling. These images remind us of why higher density that requires  affordable housing is needed so that such families can have their own place where they can social distance. Social distancing  is a privilege that higher income folks with spacious housing can afford. If you are infected with COVID 19, you should self-quarantine for 14 days, keep 6 feet away from others, and use a separate room and bathroom if possible. This is not possible for many poor families. See: Overcrowding in LA may fuel spread of the virus The argument going around that density is bad is just not true. We need more housing that people can afford so they don’t need to overcrowd.

This is what is bad: Poverty, racism and over-crowding. The poor  have little chance to build up savings. They have to work. They go out using pubic transport, and work in crowded conditions to pick, prepare and package our food and provide so many of the services we enjoy.  Access to affordable good health care,  fair wages, just hiring practices, safe places to work, and zoning that allows for higher density are all solutions to the racial divide we are seeing today in statistics on who is being infected with COVID 19 .

Density is good as long as it requires affordability and green construction to mitigate the climate crisis. If we keep spreading our cities out, requiring more cars and gas, with long distances to places of work, worship and play, we are going in the wrong direction to help save our planet.

Anthony and I had the privilege of going to Greece a few years ago to visit his wonderful Greek relatives and meet my brother and his wife on Crete. (They were on holiday from Australia where they live).  We passed through countless small villages that were gone with a blink of an eye because they were so dense. We climbed up long stairs in the heart of these white and blue buildings, with one home on top others and few, if any cars in sight. Villagers didn’t need them. Everything was so dense you could easily walk to where you needed to be. I could imagine that these towns and villages must have been similar to what it was like at the time of Jesus.

I just did a search on “crowds” in the Bible. This word is mentioned 226 times from Genesis to Revelation. How could the prophets, Jesus, Peter and Paul share their messages without a crowd? At times, Jesus took crowds with him to the the countryside where he feed 5,000 and more.  Other times he walked the streets and people like the woman with an issue of blood came to him in a crowd. Sometimes the crowds were so big that short people l like me had to climb trees to see Jesus. And other times Jesus was so tired of the crowds he left to be alone.  After the death of Jesus, even the disciples were in a upper room–an indication of density. So what would Jesus say about density? I think he would support it, as long as it meant that those most vulnerable could have a place of their own to stay safe.. and especially in a time of pandemic.

“Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear.” Micah 4:4

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT LAND AND HOUSING? GOOD NEWS FOR TODAY’S HOUSING CRISIS!

4 Feb

Vine and Fig Tree

A Theology of Housing: Land, Limits and Jubilee Hospitality

By Dr. Jill Suzanne Shook

The UN declaration of Human Right declares housing as a human right, like the right to food and clothing. And Pasadena housing vision states:

“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. The

housing vision for Pasadena is to maintain a socially and

economically diverse community of homeowners and renters

who are afforded this right.”

But what is God’s vision for housing? And what role do we play in realizing that vison?

The 8th century BCE prophet Micah declared:

Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own

fig tree, and no one will make them afraid. Micah 4:4

This oft repeated biblical text promises everyone a place to rest, a right to ownership, safety, and abundance (II Kings 18:31; Is. 36:16; Zech.3:10). These and other Scripture passages assert that everyone has a right to a place to call home.

A theology of land and homes—both necessarily bound together—is one lens by which to view the Bible. Walter Brueggemann, in his seminal work, The Land provides us with a sweeping idea of Israel’s relationship to the land:

…the Old Testament…was concerned with place, specific real

estate that was invested with powerful promises…Israel’s

fortunes between landlessness (wilderness, exile) and landedness,

 the latter either as possession of the land, as anticipation of the land, or as grief about loss of the land.

Isaiah gives of a glimpse into God’s intention for the land, what Dr. Ray Bakke refers to as a blueprint for an ideal city, where all are housed, and there is no gentrification or displacement:

They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant

vineyards and eat their fruit. “They will not build and another

inhabit, they will not plant and another eat. (Is.65: 21-22)

At times because of disobedience and natural disasters, God’s ideal is not realized. God allows his people to be uprooted and displaced. At the end of this twisted biblical road from the Garden of Eden to the

City of God (Rev. 20-21) God is bringing us all home. But is God leading us only to a heavenly home, or are we also being led to live securely in an earthly one?

Homes must be built on land, so we can’t discuss homes without discussing land and its use. How we view the land, how we steward it and honor God’s laws that govern it, have everything to do with

God’s overall message to save humankind to live not only in a heavenly home, but also to bring a bit of heaven on earth—an earthly home where we can safely experience God’s abundance and joy.

Biblical authors wrote extensively about land. The first sins in Genesis resulted in a marred land. The dispute over land between Abraham and Lot separated them. The land of Sodom and Gomorrah

was laid waste due to their neglect of the poor (Ezekiel 16: 49-50). Joshua is about equally dividing the land among the twelve tribes. Leviticus and Deuteronomy are about preparing a people to enter the

Promised Land. These books provide detailed laws and regulations to be obeyed once Israel is “landed” after forty years of wondering in the desert. Once in the land, the people wanted a king, so God sent prophets to hold kings accountable, warning Israel of losing their land if they neglect these laws. Lamentations is about grieving over the loss of land.

Sabbath was the key organizing principle of Israel. Duet 15: 4 provides us with the purpose of these Sabbath laws: “there should be no poor among you.” Leviticus outlines God’s rhythm of Sabbath practices to alleviate poverty.

First, every seven days the Israelites were to rest, a wise re-creation with limits placed on our bodies, minds, spirits and souls—with scheduled days for rest and coming together to celebrate and worship. (Leviticus 23:3 ) God rained down a powerful object lesson for forty years by providing twice the amount of manna on the sixth day to promote rest on Sabbath. What a powerful Sabbath lesson!(Exodus 16:1–36 )

Secondly, every seven years land was to rest from its work—a limit given to the soil’s work in order to regain its nutrients. Any farmer will say that land Sabbaticals are a wise economic practice, ultimately creating more productivity. Additionally, Leviticus 25 outlines how every seven years there was to be a limit on debt—a limit on the stress and burden of excessive un-payable debt.

Thirdly, the Sabbath principle continues with the year of Jubilee—every seven-times-seven-years. When the ram’s horn blows on the 49 th year and the 50 th Jubilee year begins, and that is when land

is returned to the original families. Essentially the land value was to revert to zero. For example, if you purchased property 45 years before the Jubilee, it would cost you more since you purchased the use of the land for 45 years. If you bought land five years before the Jubilee it would cost you less, since you would own it for only five years. If you were a real wheeler and dealer, buying up land during those 49 years, you knew there would be a limit to your ownership; you would have to give up some of your land in that 50th year.

The Bible had other policies in addition to the rhythms of the Sabbath to provide sustenance for his people. If you had made poor choices, or fallen on hard times, like Naomi or Ruth, there was also a limit to the consequences of your misfortune. Grace was applied, and you would again have access to a food perhaps by gleaning, and a home due to levirate marriage or no interest loans.

The concept of a Community Land Trust, where ownership of a home is separated from land ownership, was conceived from the practice of Jubilee. Today over 225 CLTs exist in US jurisdictions providing affordable homeownership. This model takes land off the speculative market and places a wise and needed limit by making homes in the trust permanently affordable. This model recognizes that ultimately “the land is Mine, thus sayeth the Lord.” (Lev. 25:23)

If we really believed that all land is God’s and to be governed by God’s laws, then how do we make our US policies consistent with God’s intentions? We must use God’s standards to measure the fairness of laws. We may feel secure “under our own vine and fig tree” in our own homes, but our security is not in our home, but in God. When we die, we will not be judged on our property values, but on how well we value our neighbors. If we want to be in harmony with Gods’ vision for society, we need the courage to put human values above property values. In God’s economy we obtain riches by letting go.

Ultimately, all we have is a gift from our Creator. That sets us free to share what we have and trust in God as our provider. No command is more important than to love God and neighbor as oneself. Israel yearned for a home and we are no different. If we want a nice home that we can afford in a good neighborhood, we should want that for others. And who is our neighbor? According to Jesus it the one most in need (Luke 10:25-37). Isaiah challenges us to exercise a true fast, where we “…bring to your house the poor who are cast out;” (Isa.58:7) and Moses warned us:

If there are any poor in your towns when you arrive in the

land….do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.

Instead be generous and lend them whatever they need. Do not

be mean spirited and refuse a loan because the year of release

is close at hand. Duet.15:7-9

Here, the “year of release” refers to Jubilee. This is a challenge both to us personally and to our communities to be hospitable to the poorest among us, even if the Jubilee year is close at hand. Old Testament prophets directed their messages mostly to cities and nations. Jesus spoke to cities as well: “Woe to you Korizon and Bethsaida” (Matt. 11:21) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks”

(Matt. 24:37). We need to consider not only how our churches welcome the most vulnerable (Matt 25:40), but also how our cities reflect hospitality to all income levels. A community with much wealth requires a host of lower income workers to support a high-end lifestyle—gardeners, maids, those who run dry cleaners, restaurant workers and on and on. Policies that push lower income residents to live at a distance in order to afford housing create traffic. Policies that provide enough housing for all income, allowing workers to live close by and polices that prevent discrimination, is indeed good news not only for the poor but the whole community. God is seeking to redeem not only our souls, but also the very soul of our cities—bringing about life giving laws and structures. God is raising up city planners excited about God’s blueprint for cities. God is raising up developers of affordable housing and passionate law makers who are committed to decent housing for all income levels.

They are doing God’s work, although they may not yet know the God who gave them their passion. We need to partner with them, encourage them. And for those not supporting good policy, we need to hold them accountable.

Like Moses who trembled as he spoke to pharaoh to deliver his people from slavery, and Esther who risked her life to speak to the king to change an edict that would destroy her people, and all the prophets who spoke to kings, we too need to speak to our leaders with humility and the power of God. Jesus confronted the authorities twenty-seven time in the Gospels, and we should follow his example. Jesus died for our sins, but he also died because he challenged the status quo, to bring in a new system, a kingdom of love, mercy and justice.

Years of slavery, segregation and all the laws that have kept our nation divided were finally challenged by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who got the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968. Today many states have Housing Elements—planning tools that demonstrate how enough affordable housing for all income levels could be met for cities, unfortunately enforcement mechanisms are weak, with little political will to fund and build enough housing. Like the prophets of old and following the example of Dr. King, we can hold our cities and nation accountable to create affordable housing. We need to resurrect the kind of theology that speaks truth to power, that affirms advocacy as a ministry of the church. We can have wonderful vison statements and policies, but without enforcement to execute beautiful planning documents, nothing will happen. Dr. John Perkins often says “Justice is eternal vigilance.”

We need to watch City Council agendas with an eagle eye, show up, ask questions and propose excellent policies that are vetted and well researched within teams. Jesus had twelve men—but even with just five and few women we can transform policy and hold jurisdictions accountable. The prophets, priests (Lev. 14:43-4), kings (II Kings 8:1-6) and biblical community organizers (Neh. 5) all played significant roles in enforcing just housing practices. Although enforcement mechanisms are imperfect this side of heaven, God will ultimately hold us and our governments accountable for how we treat the least of these (Matt. 25:31-36).

After the 1949 US Housing Act that declared housing as a human right, for too many the opposite took place. Funds were releases for the removal of slums called “urban renewal” but this forced tens and thousands of people to relocate and lose their homes and communities. Not one person of color played a role in this drastic policy decision. Neighborhood were declared “slums” and demolished all too often simply because people of color lived in these homes. This happened in Pasadena and cities across the US. For this reason, this policy has been dubbed “Negro removal,” making way for civic centers and highways, pushing people of color out of view into segregated edges of cities.

The Israelites who remained in Jerusalem during the Babylonian captivity were considered lower class and were discriminated against by the newcomers. After Nehemiah mobilized these Israelites to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he also had to step in to enforce the Jubilee, reminding those blinded by greed that they were hurting those within their own Israelite family. Unfair taxes and credit practices forced Jewish families to re-mortgage their homes and sell their children. Nehemiah, committed to keeping the Sabbath laws holy, demanded that these oppressors give back their houses and children and no longer charge interest to the poor as commanded in Exodus 22:25. Nehemiah imposed just limits on their cruel greed and love of money.

Sadly, in the end Israel refused to fully apply the Sabbath laws and the consequence were dramatic. The prophets screamed from heaven with warnings:

Enough, you princes of Israel! Stop all your violence and

oppression and do what is just and right. Quit robbing and

cheating my people out of their land! Stop expelling them

from their homes. You must use only honest weights and

scales… Ezekiel 45:9-10

…you hate honest judges and despise those who tell the truth.

You trample the poor and steal what little they have through

taxes and unfair rent.” Amos 5:10-11

When you want a certain piece of land, you find a way to seize

When you want someone’s house you take it by fraud and

violence….you have evicted women from their homes and

stripped their children of their God-given rights. Micah 2:2, 9

Destruction is certain for you who buy up property so others

have no place to live. Your homes are built on great estates so

you can be alone in the land. But the Lord almighty has sealed

your awful fate. With my own ears I heard him say, “Many

beautiful homes will stand deserted… Isaiah 5:7-9

The prophets proclaimed that Israel would lose their land, and they did. When Jesus came to earth, he came into a world with predatory lending practices, not unlike unjust land use and financial practices chronicled in the Old Testament. Matthew records:

“How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and

you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You shamelessly cheat widows out

of their property and then, to cover up the kind of people you

really are, you make long prayers in public.” Matthew 23:14

Jesus broke into history exposing both personal and socioeconomic sins of the day. Jesus inaugurated his mission in his own hometown as he stood and opened Isaiah’s scroll in the synagogue and read his

mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed

me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to

proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the

blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the

Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:16-18

Scholars agree that the “year of the Lord’s favor” refers to Jubilee. After reading from the scroll, Jesus said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” We don’t need to wait until the 49 th year to practice Jubilee. We can practice Jubilee everyday by taking land off the speculative market to make it affordable.

The Early Church understood this message, selling land and having all in common, perfectly fulfilling the purpose of the Sabbath laws stated in Deut.15:4, that there “shall be no poor among you”

“And there was no poor among them, because people who

owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to

the apostles to give to others in need” Acts 4:34.

This astounding declaration was a powerful evidence of the Holy Spirit! By invoking the Jubilee vision to establish his own ministry, Jesus put his finger on a festering societal wound, pointing out that only by courageous, radical obedience both the rich and the poor are set free. Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. Mark 10:28-30

Millard Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity was a wealthy man, owning cattle farms, and living in luxury. But his wife was tired of being married to someone addicted to work and money. She created a crisis in their marriage by going to New York on her own to consider what to do. This resulted in a mutual decision to start over, selling everything and recommitting their lives to God’s purposes. Fuller began testing the ideas of Habitat for Humanity in Georgia and later in Africa. Today Habitat is the largest home builder in the world—providing homeownership for low-income families throughout the globe. Fuller followed the example of rich Zacchaeus by abandoning his wealth. He also followed the example of Jesus who, “Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,” 2 Corinthians 8:9.

Can God be trusted to take care of us if we courageously follow the radical teachings of Jesus? There was enough manna in the desert for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed. Paul the Apostle quoted the manna passage in describing the purpose of money—essentially that wealth is a gift to be shared so that all needs are met. (Ex.16:18, II Cor.8:15). In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira, following Barnabas' example, also sold their land saying they were giving it all to God, but they lied and secretly withheld a portion of the proceeds. God made an example of them by cutting their lives short.

This extreme example brought awe to the Early Church, pushing them to radical obedience and integrity. Today we must again foster this healthy fear of God, and figure how the rhythms and limits of Sabbath laws apply within our cities and affirm where it is already happening. We need to exercise biblical real estate and city planning practices designed so that “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.”

Can we really address the housing crisis? Some may say we lack enough land, yet we have air space over parking lots and unused church space. Family Promise houses homeless families within the four walls of houses of worship and Safe parking programs allow those experiencing homelessness to live in their cars, both programs coupled with case management and paths to permanent housing.

Some of the most densely populated countries in the world, like Singapore, have figured out how to adequately house their people. Do we believe this is possible in the US? “What do you want?” is the question Jesus often asked the blind and the lame. He challenged them to believe what felt impossible. Are we willing to do what it takes to believe housing is a basic human right and do whatever it takes to make housing happen? With prayer, creativity and the eyes of faith, we can address the housing crisis today. Due to the great housing shortage in California, a state law was passed that essentially rezoned the entire state saying anyone with a single-family home could build a “granny flat” or second dwelling unit.

California also has a density bonus law, whereby developers are allowed a higher number of housing units in their developments if they include a percentage of lower income units. This State law works in tandem with cities that have passed local Inclusionary policies, whereby a percent of all new units is set aside as affordable. This works like a biblical tithe, or gleaning, where a percent of all developments are required to be affordable. Pasadena’s Inclusionary Zoning requires that 20% of all new housing is affordable.

As of 2020, this one policy has produced 577 affordable units, included within high end developments, with no cost to the city. In fact, this policy has put over $26 million into Pasadena’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund—which has served to generate and preserve over 600 more units. To prevent any stigma, inclusionary units have the same amenities and are the same size as the higher end units. And to be sure we don’t lose these units to market rate; they are all permanently affordable. This is smart growth at its finest. In many California communities, half of their residents are severely cost burdened, in other words, they pay over 50% of their income on housing costs. For this reason, cities like Santa Monica, have increased their percentages of required set aside affordable units to 30% of the total development.

Additionally, today many California cities are passing rent control measures, establishing caps or limits on greed, in the midst of obscene rent increases of $500 to $1,000 a month. How will we steward the land on which our homes, cities and churches dwell? How will we help to plan our cities so that they are not exclusionary, but inclusive for all income levels and ethnicities? How do we support our elected officials, just as the prophets of old spoke truth to kings, holding them accountable to do the right thing? And thanking them when they do.

The Early Church did not maintain or settle for poverty, it ended poverty among them (Acts 4:34). In the same way we can end homelessness, as many cities are doing for veterans, women, children, and other homeless subpopulations. We know what ends homelessness, simply put, homes end homelessness. We need homes that are affordable, and in the case of the chronically homeless, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). Much experimentation and research has resulted in today’s evidence-based best practices demonstrating that PSH work to end homelessness. Margaret McAustin, a City Council member in Pasadena, knew the value of PSH and gracefully told her constituents that she had made the decision that a city-owned parcel in her district would be used to house twenty homeless families. She did not give her constituents a choice but met with them over countless meetings to discuss the design and numerous other decisions, allowing input from the community. Today “Marv’s Place” looks like a Mediterranean villa and has won awards as the best PSH in all Southern California. The stated mission of one church in Pasadena was to provide affordable housing. After thirty years, they resurrected their original intent and today have over 500 units of Section 8 housing. Many churches own a few affordable units but rarely 500! Yet if churches help to pass good policy, they can multiply their efforts to create thousands of units. In the 1980s sixty churches in New York used their people power to organize, resulting in building 5,000 two- family homes—all for homeownership, all for low-income families.

This dramatically lowered crime, school-drop-out rates, and transformed congregations. These Nehemiah homes became the tool to infuse hope and serve as the economic engine that transformed Brooklyn and South Bronx. Twenty churches in Montgomery County, Maryland, were able to work with their county council to make 2.5 percent of all property taxes allocated into an affordable housing trust fund, enabling developers to make a significant step toward building enough affordable housing.

With a biblical foundation, love and the power of the Holy Spirit providing the motivation, courage and inspiration, the Church can set the pace and be an example of how to bring about housing justice. In this way, “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid” (Micah 4:4,).

Candidates stood in a 1907 Quaker Meeting house, as they shared where they stood on Affordable/Homeless Housing

21 Jan

candidates forum crowdStarting around 5:45 pm on Tuesday, January 21, people started pouring into the Quaker Orange Grove Friends Meetinghouse until every bench and every chair was filled. People filled the social hall as well as the worship space! Between 120-150 people attended, as you can see from this  picture. The Pasadena Now has an article about it:

http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/candidates-discuss-housing/#.XiiFe2hKg2w

You can also see it livestreamed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1tYtSpfV8k&feature=youtu.be

To find out where the candidates stand on crucial issues regarding housing in our city, click here:  Candidates Booklet 

Jill Shook made everyone laugh when she told them that she would consider voting for District Tyron Hampton for District 1, where she lives, but she first asked him to support a list of a 10 items. He agreed to 8. That was good enough, so she supported him. “But what’s most important,” Jill added, “is that he actually did what he promised to do. Now that candidates have written down and expressed their views, we can hold them accountable.”

This was a lesson that everyone heard and we hope took to heart.

Thirteen of the 15 candidates took part. (One candidate is running unopposed and another just spaced out.)

candidates forum participants

From left, Ryan Bell, Steve Madison, Tamerlin Godley, Gene Masuda, Char Bland, Felicia Williams (hidden from view), the moderator, Tricia Keane, Kevin Litwin, Major Williams, Victor Gordo, and Terry Tornek. Photo courtesy Ryan Bell via Twitter and published in Pasadena Now.

Many of the candidates thanked and spoke appreciatively of  our 20 year’s of housing justice efforts.

Anthony Manousos with over 35 years of being a Quaker, welcomed everyone at the beginning of the event. He said,

“As you can see, it’s very simple: no religious trappings. We don’t have a pastor or set order of worship. We come together here to worship in silence, guided by the Spirit, and speak only when we feel led by the Spirit. Our meetinghouse was built in 1907 and is one of the oldest church buildings in our city. Quakers have been committed to peace and justice work for 350 years, and our Meeting has a special concern for housing justice and immigration. l  want to thank all of you for showing up and showing your concern for homeless and affordable housing. ”

Jill spoke about the history of the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) and mentioned how it was birthed in the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in the early 1990s.  You can read more the history here: History of GPAHG

We were pleased that several of the candidates support rent control (Rob Bell and Char Bland) and Gene Masuda who is presently on the council also expressed support. Almost almost all  of the candidates expressed support for permanent supportive housing and commercial development at the Civic Center. And Mayor Tornek said in his comments that he is not longer supporting a lawsuit against the state on the new ADU–Accessory Dwelling Unit policy, see:  New State Granny Flat Bills compared to Pasadena

Our work is faith-rooted and honors everyone, including elected officials we sometimes disagree with. An important element of this kind of activity is building relationships. People had a chance to meet and greet candidates at the end for around 45 minutes. People were excitedly discussing housing issues in a way that brought joy to our hearts as housing justice advocates.

Our faith-rooted approach has the  goal of not just persuading our elected officials, but also of listening and being open to hearing their viewpoint. Our ultimate goal is to create what Dr. King calls “The Beloved Community.” We felt we had a glimpse of the Beloved Community during this Forum.

We give God thanks to all those on our GPAHG team that worked so hard to make this a successful event: June William and Sonja Berndt who ran the sign-in table, Antonio who was the greeter, Morgan who did the live stream and also brought food along with Jennifer Lim and others.  Tom Petersmeyer and all who setup and cleaned up afterwords…. But a very special shout out to Miriam Tellez who was the key planner of the event. She spent hours detailing out every aspect of the evening and was an excellent time keeper with red stop and green go signs she painted. All had essential roles for which we are thankful. We give praise for what God is accomplishing through us. We want to thank Orange Grove Meeting for its support and encouragement.

Candidates who took part:

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

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

Questions for Candidates for GPAHG’s Candidates Forum

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

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

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

 

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

11 Jan

the full group except for Anthony

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

Leadership Retreat

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

7 Jan

GPAHG ADU Case Study Comparison

Dear Pasadena City Council,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Jan

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

award from Judy Chu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Joy in this amazing journey, Jill Shook

Happy New Year! 

the kids go marching

 

 

 

Affordable Housing Rock Stars of 2019!

11 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 Dec

Dear Friends, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family update:

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

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

With a grateful heart of joy,              Jill

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

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

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

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

Website: www.makinghousinghappen.org

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

 

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