The Secret History of Housing, Racism and Cities

15 Jul

This article on ” The Secret History of Housing, Racism and Cities” was published by Anthony Manousos in the summer issue of a Quaker publication called “The Western Friend,” which he edited from 1998-2008.

He has partnered with Western Friend to host a webinar called “Loving Your Neighborhood” on Thursday, August 6, at 7 pm. Here’s his description of this webinar to which all are invited: “Together we’ll learn what Quakers have done, and what we can do now, to address the homelessness and affordable housing crisis during this time of pandemic. This is not the time to hide what we know under a bushel. Let’s proclaim the good news from the rooftops: we know what it takes to end homelessness and poverty. Let’s work together to make ending homelessness and poverty a reality!

Aug 6, 2020 7:00 PM Pacific Time 

Register in advance for this meeting:

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

“Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!” Luke 12:13 (New Living Translation)

Eight years ago, when I married Jill Shook, a housing justice advocate, she would take me on walks or drives around Pasadena, pointing out buildings and homes. Each one had a story, often a fascinating story. I realized that she was tuned in to her city and her neighborhood in ways I had never experienced, or even imagined. I also realized that cities have a secret life—one that needs to be shouted from the housetops.

As I helped her to revise and edit her book, Making Housing and Community Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models,  I came to see that I had been utterly oblivious to the “secret life” of cities—how housing policies had determined where and how homes were built and businesses situated. Cities didn’t just happen, they were created and shaped by policy makers with certain values. These values are often colored by racism, xenophobia, and classism.

As I became more involved in housing justice work, I also came to appreciate what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your neighbor.” He also meant, “Love your neighborhood.” Another secret or little known fact:  Jesus loved cities as much as he loved individuals, and he came to save cities as well as individuals from moral and physical destruction. Remember how Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, a city that was both sacred and profoundly screwed up—suffering under Roman oppression, and a corrupt religious establishment. Weeping over the city just as he wept over his friend Lazarus, who died and was brought back to life, Jesus called out to Jerusalem:

“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:21). He loved this conflict-ridden city despite its faults: “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (Matthew 23:37).

Such a tender metaphor, and so poignant, given the fact that he knew the people of this city would kill him, just as it had killed other prophets.

Gradually I learned the secret of how to love my city, with all its beauty and flaws. After I’d been married for a year, a pastor friend of Jill’s surprised me with this observation, “Anthony, you realize when you  married Jill, you married the city of Pasadena.” Strange as it seems, a  light bulb went off when he said this. She is committed to Pasadena just as she is committed to our marriage. She loves this city and she wants to see it thrive. I now feel the same way. I love Pasadena in a way that I have never loved a city before. In the past I liked cities for what they offered me, but now that I feel as if I am married to Pasadena, I want what’s best for my beloved city just as I want what’s best for my wife. Like Jill, I take part in public events, go to city council meetings, and get to know all my neighbors, from the Mayor and community leaders to the homeless people who gather around City Hall.

Jill and I live in a city that prides itself on its historical character, but often hides from its dark past of racism. Our neighborhood was the only place where African Americans could live because covenants prevented home owners from selling to non-Anglo-Saxon protestants. A little known secret: many of these covenants prevented homeowners from selling their homes not only to blacks, but also to Jews or Catholics!

Blacks could live only in a certain part of Pasadena, the Northwest. This was true of most cities prior to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This landmark Act was passed just one week after Dr. King’s assassination (fair housing being one of the last campaigns he worked on).

Orange Grove Meeting is located in Northwest Pasadena, in the heart of an impoverished Latino neighborhood. Most Orange Grove Friends commute to meeting from other parts of the city and know little about this neighborhood. Many years ago, Jill canvassed the Meeting’s neighborhood to start a tutoring program, and she knows many residents well. To help our meeting know the neighborhood better, Jill has taken us on tours to learn about the neighborhood’s history and assets. Northwest Pasadena is full of great people and restaurants and small businesses with delicious Latin American food and products. But it also contains dire poverty. The median income of a family of four in this census tract is $25,000 – and the cost of rent for an apartment here averages $2,000 per month and up. In other words, families either have to pay all their income on rent or “double up” with other families. This kind of overcrowding can be a major driver of many social ills, like poor academic performance and gangs.

Despite having been divested and impoverished by racist policies, Northwest Pasadena has thrived and become gentrified, with homes selling for $700,000 and up. But it also has one of the poorest areas of our city.

Orange Grove Meeting is located in Northwest Pasadena smack dab in the heart of the Latino neighborhood, but most Friends commute to meeting and know little about their neighbors. Many years ago Jill canvassed this mostly Spanish-speaking neighborhood to start a tutoring program and knows the residents well. To help our Meeting get to know the neighborhood better, she has taken Orange Grove members and teachers at Friends Western School on tours to learn more about its history. Our ‘hood has some wonderful assets—great people and restaurants and small businesses with delicious Latin American food and products. But it also has dire poverty, as we also found out from census tracts. The median income for a family of four around our Meetinghouse is $25,000—and rents for an apartment average $2,000 and up. In other words, families have to pay all the income on rent or double up with another family. This kind of overcrowding is a major driver of poverty and poor academic performance, and gangs.

Part of loving a city means learning its dark secrets and what we can do to help move it towards a brighter future through policy changes. Two years ago we started a nonprofit called Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH) that advocates for affordable and homeless housing. As a result of our efforts, our city has approved 135 units of homeless housing in the last couple of years. Thanks in part to advocacy work, we have reduced our homeless population in Pasadena by over 50% since 2011 and we are working on a city-wide plan to reduce our chronically homeless population to “functional zero” in five years.

To end poverty we need to look at its root causes, which are often hidden from sight. Jill taught a graduate course on housing justice at the Azusa Pacific graduate program in social work. To help students understand how housing policy affects people’s lives, we created an “Unjust Housing” game, based on Monopoly. (Another secret: the idea for the game we know as Monopoly was stolen by Parker Brothers from a progressive feminist named Elizabeth Magie who created the Landlord’s Game as a protest against monopolists in 1903.)

The goal of our Unjust Housing Game is to show the deeply racist nature of housing policy. Players are given either a white or a black bean. Those with a white bean receive 20 pennies (worth $100 each) and those with a black bean 2 pennies (thereby representing the actual wealth inequality between whites and blacks). Players roll a dice and receive a penny for the number of the throw. That’s fair enough. But then they must choose from a stack of either white or black cards, depending on the color of their bean. The cards represent actual housing policies. Here are some examples:

WHITE CARD: Congratulations! Your father received a GI Bill, a loan program initiated in 1944. He bought a nice home in the suburbs. This helped your family to do well. (Around 98% of recipients of this loan were white.) Collect $300.

BLACK CARD: After a seven year wait, you receive a Section 8 Housing Voucher enabling you to pay only a third of your income on rent, but unfortunately (like around 50% of recipients of voucher) you can’t find a landlord willing to accept this voucher within the require time limit and you lose your voucher and go back on the waiting list. Forfeit $200.

In 2017, the LA county waiting list for the voucher program was estimated to have an 11-year wait time, and there were about 40,000 Angelenos on the waiting list, which was closed to new names since 2009. The situation has worsened since then. In Pasadena, there are approximately 22,000 people on the waiting list, with 1400 vouchers circulating, 1350 in use, and only 50 available.

WHITE CARD:  You live in a town with very few poor people or people of color. Your property values rise!  Receive $500.

In the 1990s new suburban towns across the US incorporated to prevent low-income Section 8 voucher holders to “encroach.”  These new cities prevented multifamily zoning and ensured large lots sizes. They were typically over 90% white with very low poverty rates. Many LA and Orange County cities were formed for these same reasons.

BLACK CARD: A freeway runs through your neighborhood, your community is destroyed and you lose your home through eminent domain. You aren’t given enough compensation to buy a new home and you become a renter. Forfeit $400.

This is exactly what happened in Pasadena when the 210 Freeway cut through and destroyed a thriving African American business district. Homeowners were not given enough compensation to purchase homes in the city so many were forced to move.

As you play this game, you realize that the real estate game is rigged against people of color. (No surprise if you happen to be a person of color!) Housing injustice is a major reason for the income disparity between whites and blacks. The game helps you to experience what it feels like to be discriminated against, or privileged.

We also teach people how to organize for housing justice using faith-based methods similar to those of FCNL. The secret of good organizing is that we are not just trying to pass good policies and win victories, we are also striving to empower those who are marginalized and build long-term relationships with those in power.

Our goal is systemic change.  Feeding programs and shelters are fine stop gaps, but as a homeless woman told me, “I like it when people make me sandwiches, but I’d rather make my own sandwich in my own apartment.”

What ends chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing (PSH). Those experiencing homelessness are sent not to a temporary shelter, but to permanent housing where they feel secure and can receive the services they need to thrive. Over 90% of those housed in PSH stay housed after three or more years. Marv’s place is a stellar example of PSH in Pasadena. Nineteen formerly homeless families live in this beautiful Mediterranean style apartment complex and all now have jobs and/or are attending college.

We work with and not just for our homeless neighbors, including those whose lives have been transformed by PSH. Those who have experienced homelessness are often the best advocates.

The need for housing and housing justice will no doubt intensify during this Covid 19 crisis. Many will face eviction and homelessness will dramatically increase unless we enact policies to prevent this from happening.

We Quakers have played an important role in addressing housing injustice in the past (among other things, we started Self-Help Enterprises, which became the inspiration for Habitat.) Today Orange Grove Meeting has become a center for housing justice in our city, and I’d like to see other Quaker meetings play a similar role. That’s why I have partnered with Western Friend to host a webinar called “Loving Your Neighborhood” on Thursday, August 6, at 7 pm. Together we’ll learn what Friends have done, and what we can do now, to address the homelessness and affordable housing crisis during this time of pandemic. This is not the time to hide what we know under a bushel. Let’s proclaim the good news from the rooftops: we know what it takes to end homelessness and poverty. Let’s work together to make ending homelessness and poverty a reality!

Anthony is a member of Orange Grove Meeting and former editor of Western Friend. The author and editor of numerous books and pamphlets (including Relics of America: the Fall of the American Empire, Transformative Quakers, Howard and Anna Brinton: Reinventors of Quakerism in the 20th Century, Interfaith Peacemaking, Western Quaker Readeretc.) he serves on the Board of FCNL and Interfaith Communities Uniting for Justice and Peace. He is co-founder of Making Housing and Community Happen. If you’d like to become involved in peace or housing justice activism, contact Anthony at  For more info, see and We are promoting affordable housing on many different fronts: inclusionary zoning, Safe Parking, Accessory Dwelling Units, converting motels to homeless housing, as well as building affordable housing on church land.

Racism and Housing: Councilman Kennedy and Beverly Bogar, by Dr. Jill Shook

2 Jul

Over 120 people signed up, and 80 people attended our Forum on Racism and Housing on June 23, 2020. This was one of the largest turnouts we’ve ever had for our Housing Justice Forums, which was very gratifying. We explored both national policy with his local implications, including some of Pasadena”s own past racist sins in relationship to housing justice. We opened with a devotion from Isaiah 61 by Pastor Camille Russel-Wooden, followed by Beverly Bogar sharing her story about growing up as a Black in Pasadena (scroll below). Beverly has lived in Pasadena for 68 years and worked as assistant to the Chief of Police for Pasadena 35 years.

Following her moving story, I shared a PowerPoint Presentation on Racism and Housing in Pasadena. It was so well received I have been asked to do this presentation for Union Station’s board and for a city-sponsored event.

Our City Councilman John Kennedy shared about racism from his own experience growing up in Pasadena. He spoke from his heart with great passion about the need to combat racism and create more affordable housing. You will find the video of both his and my talk here, facilitated by one of our volunteers, Sonja Berndt: Video presentation on Racism and Housing

Pasadena Councilman John Kennedy.

My Housing Story, By Beverly Bogar

The first house I remember living in, when I was maybe 5 years old, was a 4-room 1-bedroom house on a dirt alley called Mary Street, behind a Bekin storage building. That’s  where my dad, my mom, my sister and I lived.  My dad worked odd jobs and was always saving money to buy a house.

He was able to buy a house in Northwest Pasadena. During this time, some white homeowners did not want to integrate, rent, sell or live next to people of color.  It was known as white-flight where they moved further and further north towards Altadena.  My dad got a job at Carl Hanson Ford in Sierra Madre, where a co-worker helped him to rent a 2-bedroom house at 855 Euclid, between Mountain and Buckeye.  It was the most culturally diverse street I have ever lived on. 

As a young child, I never saw color.  I just knew grown people were to be respected and you played with kids. I became aware of race when I was 8 years old and was playing 4-square on the playground at Madison School when a little white boy called me the “N” word.  Not knowing what this word meant, I said: “You’re another one!” The playground teacher grabbed him by the arm, fussed at him and set him down on the pergola. She then came over to me,  wrapped her arm around my shoulder and asked me if I was ok.  She wrote a note and pinned it on my sweater and said to give it to my mother. When I got home my mom read the note and started to cry.  She hugged me and tried to explain there are different groups of people and some of them do not like people who are not like them.  She tried to explain the various nationalities on our block, which only confused me, made me fearful and had me shy away from playmates.

I also became aware of being treated differently because of my color when my mom took me and my sisters to Nash’s on Colorado.  We watched people enter through the glass revolving doors, but she took us in through the back door.  She could not touch items she could only point at the item she wanted to purchase.

Just before 6th grade, the Euclid property was sold and we had to move again.  By that time, my dad had saved enough money to put a small down payment on a 2-story house on Maple Way.  Not knowing the purchase process and trusting others, we lost this house after three years.

My father told me to aim to buy a house as oppose to renting, to save money and live in Pasadena.

We then rented and lived on Vernon Street (which no longer exists) and Pasadena Avenue (north of Walnut).  It was an area where many people of color lived, shopped and patronized local black services – doctors, dentists, stores etc.  Then came the notification of the 710 freeway.

I’m not sure why, but my mom and dad separated and my mom and the four of us moved into a number of apartments, until we moved into a duplex on north Garfield above Washington Blvd., where I lived until graduating high school.

Fast forward, in 1974 I was blessed to purchase my current home on Sunset Avenue in Northwest Pasadena, through a “235 program” whereby I paid a $235 monthly mortgage and the balance was paid by the program.  After a period of time, the payment was gradually increased until I was paying the entire monthly payment.

Ironically, upon graduating college, I worked ror 14 years in mortgage banking, including Countrywide Funding,  and was able to learn the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry (e.g. “ARM loans” ).

I always remember my father’s advice when times were difficult.  When Parson’s came to Pasadena, they wanted to purchase homes in our neighborhood for their staff.  Many neighbors sold their homes and moved to San Bernardino, Riverside etc.  No matter how much they want to move back, they cannot afford to.

Pasadena has been and is (to some degree) a generational city where generations of families have lived and raised their children.  The impact of inequality in housing not only displaces and or relocates people of color, but tends to break down and separate families, weaken our diverse and historical culture.  As our elders age, it becomes more and more difficult to care for and assist them when you cannot afford to live in the city I do not want to believe that my city wants people of color to move out of their Pasadena home.  I want decent and affordable housing for everyone, especially our homeless neighbors.  Thank you for your time.

Pasadena’s Racialized History

23 Jun

A brief history of Pasadena’s racialized housing and mixed-income solutions  

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

             Pasadena’s wide streets with larger homes often parallel more narrow streets with smaller dwellings. Stately homes often have a small maid’s quarters within or a granny flat tucked in behind. Charming bungalow courts, first introduced in Pasadena in the turn of the 19th Century, can be seen throughout the city, and now across the US. Pasadena’s street layouts and lot configurations demonstrate a yesteryear of a mixed income community.

             The 1949 US Housing Act allowed for slum clearance but did not follow the 1937 Housing Act’s mandate for a one-for-one replacement of housing cleared.  Across our country areas, especially Black neighborhoods were declared “slums” and bull dozers began their work. The vulnerable had little recourse. This was also true in Pasadena. On Fair Oaks Ave. where Parson’s now sits just below the 2010 Freeway, was once a thriving African American community. To accommodate these changes, Scott United Methodist Church was to Orange Grove Blvd. where it stands today.  The Urban Renewal (sometimes all Nigro Removal) and Redevelopment (RD) programs have left long shadows of both the positive and negative consequences. The results of these national programs are still very evident in Pasadena and across the US. RD funding is what re-built a decaying Old Pasadena, but knowing that such development can cause displacement, this policy wisely required that 20% of all RD funds were to be allocated for building affordable housing. Pasadena’s state lobbyist somehow convinced Sacramento to pass a law that only applied to Pasadena so that the Old Pasadena RD Zone could use that 20% instead for Police and Fire pensions. This law was to sunset in 2014, but by that time, RD statewide had ended and hundreds of millions was forever lost to create affordable housing. Pensions were paid on the backs of the poor.

             The ’49 Act provided funding for new construction, but not for multi-family or rehabbing older units. It also did nothing to prevent redlining. So, the red pin drawn around NW Pasadena found families unable to obtain bank loans to improve their ailing housing stock. This Act also did nothing to prevent segregated neighborhoods. Racially restrictive covenants were allowed. On some of Pasadena’s older home deeds “This home will never be bought or sold to Blacks’ can still be seen crossed out. FHA loans would not provide mortgage insurance to Blacks; therefore, banks would not provide them loans. A Black trash collector who did very well by feeding edible trash to the pigs in his farm in Monrovia, started Family Thrift, so loans could be offered to Blacks.  This later became One United, on the SW corner of Lake and Washington, which has since consolidated with their LA bank on Crenshaw in LA.

             The 1956 Federal Highway Act gave federally funded access to people of means to leave urban cores and build new homes in the suburbs—if the family was white, had transport and the required 10% down for the FHA loan. Therefore, white suburbs like La Canada sprung up across the US. The 210 Freeway was commissioned in the 1950s and was completed in stages up through the 1970s. This freeway sliced though the middle of a vibrant African American business district on N. Lincoln that has never fully recovered. Jaylene Mosley with the Flintridge Center has placed a significant role in investing in the divested corner of the Pasadena. The strong fabric of NW Pasadena, which was once a mixed income community was rapidly tearing apart. These people of color displaced from the Freeway construction, were offered $75,000 for their homes, but at that time, no homes were under $85,000, causing further displacement.

             Bus loads of Caucasian children rode past Muir High (with all Black students) on their way to La Canada (which was then part of PUSD). Therefore, in the 1970s Pasadena was federally mandated to desegregate. This caused havoc to the whole city and school district. Before long, a city known for many excellent private schools began to see even more spring up. Without a mixed-income student population and involved educated parents, what were once some of the best public schools in the nations, began to decline. (See Conspiracy of the Good, by Michael James)

             The National Fair Housing Act of 1968 while it again allowed for a racially mixed community, by making it possible for people of color, previously restricted from the nicer parts of town, to leave NW Pasadena. But this caused further divestment and an even deeper decline of the area-an unintended consequence of the Fair Housing Act. To this day it is not uncommon to see racial steering and little support for new families to attend public schools among area relators. Additionally, some landlords will still say that their apartments are filled when a person of color comes knocking. Few testers are deployed due to limited funding for the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. Today there is an additional layer of hate and discrimination against those who are experience homelessness, with landlords and hotels unwilling to received vouchers.

             By the 1970s, zoning laws (that began the 1920’s) were excessively used as a tool to prevent mixed-income communities. Southern California cities were subject to local no-growth and slow-growth movements at the neighborhood level, pushing for down-zoning and large lots only zoned for single family homes. The voice of the poor who could only afford apartments were latterly zoned out of cities. The cry for higher density needed for multifamily housing was not heard. This sentiment remains today. This is especially true of new restrictions against allowing granny flats in Pasadena back yards.  (See Mike Davis, City of Quartz—this tells of new lines being drawn to create new exclusive LA cities formed to keep lower income folks out). When the state was passing laws to allow for back houses, the Pasadena made them almost impossible, with two-car garages, 15,000 sf lots requirements, and other restrictions.  Because of this, between 2001 and 2017 only one was built. The average property size in NW Pasadena is 6,000 sf. One more form of discrimination.

              We complain about the 210 traffic, but most must drive a distance to for housing they can afford. But many people are no longer willing to drive any further to work. Sprawl has hit the wall. People are moving back into what were Pasadena’s lower-income neighborhoods. Large older homes that once housed multiple families have been fast converting to prized homes impeccably restored that now house a couple or one family. Apartments that once housed Pasadena’s gardeners and house keepers are subject to landlords that are eager to flip their asset, bringing in new tenants that can pay higher rents…but often with little improvements. Other apartments are converting to condos at prices that lower income workers cannot afford. While these trends beautify our city, it pushes low- and middle-income families out. Pasadena is losing affordable units much faster than they are gaining them. Some landlords who participate in HUD, Section 8 and other affordable housing programs are not renewing their commitments and covenants, opting to go market rate. For example, as low-income seniors move out of the 114 units at this Senior housing complex at 1070 N. Lake, they not renewing the contract to keep them affordable.

 The fall of 2006 saw four Pasadena Unified School closed due mostly to the housing market. Typically, mostly lower income families populate public schools. In 2005-2006 alone the families of almost 1,000 low- and middle-income students exited the city. They could not afford the increased rents or to purchase a home in the area. Other institutions like Fuller Seminary wisely created a Master Plan that included student housing offered at below market rents, many of which the they built. This would help to prevent students from competing with long-time residents for housing. But strapped for cash, later Fuller broke this plan and sold 197 affordable units, housing approximately 400 people, to a luxury housing developer. This was the second biggest displacement of housing in the history of Pasadena. The largest displacement was when the 210 freeway was built.

These patterns are not uncommon to American Cities, accompanied with a growing number those experiencing homelessness. Many of Pasadena’s 150,000 residents have been unable to afford living indoors. By 2011, 1, 216 were counted as homeless in Pasadena, over half of which were women and children. Over 800 children in the school district were considered homeless. This had never been seen in Pasadena, even after WWII when there was a huge lack of housing across our nation. During that same year, 2011, only 6% of Pasadena’s middle-income population could afford to purchase a Pasadena home. Most homeowners today could not afford to purchase the home they own. Some aging Black and brown homeowners, fell prey to the 2008 mortgage meltdown, with Pasadena based banks like IndyMac, that later became One West under the leadership of Steve Mnuchin, later sold to CIT Group in 2015. Mnuchin joined Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, and today is Secretary of the Treasury. Mnuchin is often dubbed “Foreclosure King” having foreclosed on 16,220 federally insured reverse mortgages from April 2009 to April 2016, twice the national average. Bad loans, intended to fail, often targeted minority populations eager for a piece of the American Dream or homeowners and lowering come home owners with equity. There was so much shame among those targeted in the African American churches, pastors learned about the fate of members of their flock losing their homes too late in the game, when it was not longer possible to get a modified loan or other redemptive measures.

What can be done?

             What can be done? There are many solutions. Rent Control is a very misunderstood policy that landlords and corrupt developers like Black stone have done their best to demonize and to keep unclear, making us think it will destroy our communities. In 2017 we received 10,244 signatures to get rent control on the ballot, shy of the 12,800 needed. But the mayor of Pasadena won with only 8,000 votes. So many are eager to try again in 2019.

Derelict motels primarily on East Colorado Blvd, now home to homeless, prostitution and drug users, can now be converted to permanent supportive housing (PSH), which is what ends homelessness. This would clean up these motels, provide permanent housing for homeless folks with onsite wrap-around case management. Right how no one is vetted, and no rules are required for motels guests. These motels were once in The Green Book—a book outlining the only place in Pasadena where African American could stay and eat.  Between 2011-2016 we lowered the homeless count by 54 percent when we were approving PSH projects. We can do this again by approving motel conversions, building new projects and seek to preserve existing affordable housing from going market rate.  

We need to figure out how to prevent landlords from opting out of affordable housing covenants and place these units into 99-year ground leases. One tool to do this is via a Community Land Trust (CLT) and it is what the City of Irvine is doing. All apartments that are being converted to condos should have a third of the units sold as affordable at prices that those living there can afford to prevent displacement-this is being done in several cities. We need to increase Pasadena’s requirement that 15 percent of all new housing be affordable up to 25 or 30% like Santa Monica has done. The fee allowed to be paid in-lieu of including affordable units must be raised high enough that folks will opt to include the units. This will create a mix of housing units throughout the city and help to undo years of racialized housing policies. All of Pasadena’s 533 inclusionary should be in place into a CLT, just as the City of Irvine is doing. We need to encourage all San Gabriel Valley cities to do the same, placing all their affordable units into a CLT in order to preserve long term affordability.

We must zone for mixed-income multi-family housing in all Pasadena neighborhoods. We must stop all down zoning efforts. As long as there is a need to have homeless counts, and 47% of Pasadenans spend more than 50% of their income on housing, all down-zoning should be disallowed. Down-zoning prevents the density needed to build affordable housing.

If affordable units are destroyed to make way for increased density of units, an equal number of affordable units must be replaced. One-for-one replacement of affordable units must also apply to non-city invested units.

The school district could develop affordable workforce units on their land, and sell the units for income, similar to what Harvard, Irvine, Cal Poly and many universities do. A property owner should be able to subdivide their land if it is 12,000 square feet or larger if they make the parcel affordable. Granny units should be allowed on homes on 5,000 sq. feet so that homes in NW Pasadena, the only area of the city where Blacks were allowed to live, can gain have family close by. Building codes should be relaxed in industrial and commercial areas allowing artist and workers to create housing units within their worksites.

             We must preserve our early mixed-income history and re-create a healthy mixed-income non-racialized housing developments and cultivate a culture of equity, compassion and access to all who need a place to call home. We must shift Pasadena’s policies so that Pasadena becomes a model to our neighboring cities and beyond. This will take an army of advocates. We are miles ahead of many cities with 20 years of success. Will you join us?

Support use of church land for “ancillary purposes” such as trailers and tiny homes for our homeless neighbors

23 Jun

We were pleased to learn that the Planning Department wants to study the possibility of allowing churches to use their property for FEMA trailers and other structures to house our homeless neighbors. This zone change is urgently needed during this Covid 19 pandemic and would enable churches to do as God commands in Isaiah 58:7: “Give shelter to the homeless.”

This topic will come up for discussion on Wednesday, June 24, at 2:30 pm. Please write a letter in support of this proposal right now, or else submit it at 2:35 pm tomorrow so it will be read aloud during public comment.

Here are instructions on what to do:

Sample letter on how to respond to item 5 B:

I want to commend the Planning Department for considering changes in the Zoning Code that would allow an ancillary structure or trailer on church property for affordable housing. Given the urgent need for affordable/homeless during the Covid 19 pandemic, this seems like a much needed emergency measure and may also provide a long-term solution. Many congregations have excess land that they are willing to use for missional purposes, such as affordable/homeless housing. The current pandemic will probably increase the need for homeless and affordable housing by as much as 54%, according to a Columbia professor. Our city needs to be proactive and prepared for this emergency. FEMA trailers could be used to house families and pallet and tiny homes could provide temporary or even long-term shelter.

Here’s the text of item 5 B:

B. Potential Code Amendment for Church Properties Staff will facilitate a study session on potential changes to the Zoning Code that would allow an ancillary structure or trailer on church property for affordable housing. Case Manager: David Reyes (Revised on June 22, 2020)


If you wish to provide comment you may do so as follows:

1. ADVANCE CORRESPONDENCE, TO BECOME PART OF THE RECORD: Submit public comment of any length to prior to the meeting day. Please be aware that, while these comments will be provided to the members of the body and will become part of the meeting record, they will not be read aloud.

2. COMMENTS TO BE READ ALOUD AT THE MEETING: At the start of the meeting you may submit public comment of up to 200 words regarding items on the agenda to:

The body reserves the right to summarize comments if necessary for the orderly and timely flow of the meeting. All comments in their entirety will become part of the meeting record. Comments will not be accepted after the public comment period has closed. Public comments will be limited to matters on this agend

Racism and Housing: Some Solutions Proposed by MHCH

22 Jun


Nine in ten blacks say African-Americans have not achieved equality in this country. Four in ten are skeptical that they ever will. Yet thirty-eight percent of white Americans think “our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites.”  Facts suggest we have a long way to go to achieve economic equality between white and black Americans.  According to a 2020 study by the Brookings Institute, “close examination of wealth in the U.S. finds evidence of staggering racial disparities. At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016. Gaps in wealth between Black and white households reveal the effects of accumulated inequality and discrimination, as well as differences in power and opportunity that can be traced back to this nation’s inception. The Black-white wealth gap reflects a society that has not and does not afford equality of opportunity to all its citizens”

The insidious force of unconscious bias and the long shadows of systemic racism persist in housing and land use policy, banking and insurance programs, that affect equity of housing opportunity. This often leads to displacement and homelessness among African Americans. Systemic racism also makes it harder for African Americans to purchase and keep their homes or stay in their apartments. That’s why systemic reforms such as affirmatively furthering fair housing and other policies are needed as you will read below. Please prayerfully consider each of the 9 ideas below and come up with more idea of your own.

Some basic questions also need to be addressed. Is housing a right or a commodity? The concept of housing as a right is accepted in the UK and other parts of Europe, where low income people receive financial stipends so they can afford housing in the private market.Another important question: should cities promote racial and socio-economic diversity? The city of Pasadena has a beautiful vision of housing justice on page 1 of  in its Housing Element:

All Pasadena residents have an equal right to live in decent, safe and affordable housing in a suitable living environment for the long-term well-being and stability of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and their community. The housing vision for Pasadena is to maintain a socially and economically diverse community of homeowners and renters who are afforded this right.

The policies listed below could help Pasadena to realize this vision.

  1. Support Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).  The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prevents discrimination based on race, but unfortunately it is hard to implement because it is underfunded and complaint-based. With the severe housing shortage, many are fearful to complain about discrimination in housing because they are afraid to lose their housing. Additionally, there is little funding to test the market, which requires that  Blacks and Whites show up to apply for the same apartment or home and record the findings. AFFH  strengthens the Fair Housing Act so that housing discrimination can be demonstrated not just by individual cases, but also by statistics showing racially biased disparate impacts: 

Trump gutted AFFH, see: 

And senators sought to revive it:

California Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2018, signed a fair housing bill (AB 686),to affirmatively further fair housing in California. Starting on January 1, 2019, hundreds of cities, counties, and state agencies in California were supposed to take proactive measures to fix housing inequality related to race, national origin, color, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religion, and other protected characteristics. All cities and counties were supposed to reach out to and engage constituents on issues of inequity and discrimination in housing. In Pasadena it would be important to know what percent of the affordable homeownership units with Habitat, Heritage Housing Partners and Inclusionary units have been accessed by African Americans. Beginning in 2021 this new law will require each city and county to include an analysis and action plan to combat housing discrimination as part of its General Plan. see: It is important for advocates to make sure that Pasadena is implementing AB 686.

  • Right-to-return to address displacement due to gentrification.  Gentrification has become a major problem in Pasadena as well as other cities, leading to a mass exodus of African Americans. Due to rising housing prices and other factors, Black population dropped 24% in Pasadena from 2000-2010. Nearly one-quarter of Pasadena’s African American residents left the city during that period, replaced mostly by Asians and Pacific Islanders, according to 2010 Census figures. As of 2020, only 9.7% of Pasadenans are Black. Some have been priced out, others cashed out, selling their homes and moving to less expensive areas. Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, CA, are experimenting with a policy to reverse this trend. It’s called the right-to-return. This policy prioritizes displaced minorities for affordable housing units. While there are some legal and other challenges, this policy could help return some of those displaced in Pasadena. See

Local: San Francisco’s right to return policy: and some efforts to look at this in other areas:   and

  • Explore the possibility of using individual Development Accounts (IDA) to promote homeownership by african american and other minorities who have faced discrimination.  An IDA is an asset building tool designed to enable low-income families to save towards a targeted amount usually used for building assets in the form of home ownershippost-secondary education and small business ownership In principle IDAs work as matched savings accounts that supplement the savings of low-income households with matching funds drawn from a variety of private and public sources. Considering how Blacks disproportionately lost much of their wealth after the 2008 melt-down due to discriminatory practices by predatory banks, it makes sense to set up a fund to help African Americans save the money needed for home ownership. This might be funded through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) whereby banks are required to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods. Banks are required to reinvest in their community could help to create an IDA program tied to a right-to-return policy? To learn more about IDA, Individual Development Account see:

Churches might also help with IDA. For example, Lake Ave church raises $90,000 or more a year to keep folks in their homes. Maybe churches would be open to support some percent of matching and/or local realtors. This could possibly be done with some kind of scoring of points to qualify that would include proof of displacement from certain neighborhoods showing the disparate impact.  

Create IDAs for all youth under 18, and many other public investments in racial equity. See the 35 goals that the mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland is recommending

  • Create a state-level estate, investor tax and other taxes to help bring about shared prosperity.

An estate tax is levied on large accumulations of wealth that are transferred from the estate of people who have died to their beneficiaries.[66] Ideally, the US would have a robust estate tax that would reduce wealth accumulation, with the proceeds invested in wealth-building strategies designed to level the playing field for all Americans. However, the federal estate tax has been weakened dramatically since the late 1990s to the point that nearly all estates are exempt from this tax.

California should create its own estate tax, joining 18 other states and the District of Columbia that tax inherited wealth. With such a tax, California could both reduce wealth disparities and use the resulting revenues — potentially in the billions per year — to fund wealth-building policies or other public investments that would benefit the vast majority of Californians.

Another tax or fee that should be considered would be on flippers and global investors who push prices up. 

  • Support homeownership for low-income Californians with Shared Equity programs and CLT—Community Land Trusts.

To ease the burdensome housing costs and help Californians build wealth, state policymakers can further help low-income Californians become homeowners, which could benefit Californians of color. One option is to invest in shared equity programs, which offer subsidies to lower the initial costs of a home for new buyers.  When homeowners sell their home, a portion of the proceeds is reinvested in the program, allowing future low-income buyers to afford a home and keeping the program sustainable. California could significantly invest in affordable homeownership by providing funding for shared equity housing for those otherwise priced out of the housing market and tie funds to long-term affordability requirements. Local governments and nonprofits could be responsible for monitoring units and resales and offering support to homeowners.

To help fund this investment, California should consider eliminating the state mortgage interest tax deduction. The deduction allows households to reduce their taxable incomes by the value of qualified mortgage interest expenses paid on up to $1 million in debt and primarily benefits wealthy homeowners. This tax break exacerbates racial and ethnic disparities, with white families not only more likely to own homes, but also to have more valuable homes.

Community Land Trusts were birthed after the civil rights movement to address economic rights for Blacks. The first one was created by Blacks and for blacks in Albany, Georgia, in one the toughest places in the US to gain civil right. The land is held in common, and any improvements on the land, including housing is kept permanently affordable. Today there are over 250 CLT in the US and national network to help with technical support to start and maintain CLTs with many Blacks on their board and staff and leadership teams.  One of the earlier ones is in Irvine, now supporting cities in Orange County. We have a team hoping to start one in the San Gabriel Valley. You might want to join this effort. If so, contact:

  • Create a Luxury Tax to help Achieve Racial Equity in Housing Outcomes:

In partnership with the Consumer Health Foundation and the Meyer Foundation, the D.C. Policy Center asked a cross-section of community organizations, traditional and low-income housing developers, researchers, and other stakeholders to answer the question: What is the most important public policy that could increase affordable housing, reduce housing inequities, and create a more inclusive D.C.? .

Creating a tax on luxury homes that could be used to expand rent subsidies. An additional tax on the sales or values of $1 million homes could generate additional revenue for housing assistance that could help Washingtonians remain in their city. A 0.1 percent luxury tax on homes valued at $1 million or more would have generated $25.4 million in property tax revenue in 2017. A 1 percent luxury transfer tax on home sales of $1 million or more in 2015 would have generated $9.8 million in revenue. 

The city must also invest in state-of-the-art public housing and the financing of limited equity co-ops.

Vouchers hold the unique potential to unlock high-opportunity neighborhoods precisely to those who have historically been excluded from such areas. Moreover, vouchers can enable households to remain in, or move back to, a neighborhood transformed by gentrification—thus curtailing or even reversing the threat of displacement due to rising housing costs.

  • Create a resolution calling for the Planning Department to center racial and social equity in its work by developing strategies to counter structural racism in collaboration with communities of color. Also, instruct staff to assure its hiring practices to reflect The City’s demographics and to build establish metrics to track accountability.  One resolution apologized for past housing policies like redlining that intentionally segregated and forcibly removed communities of color, during a period of urban renewal, while failing to intervene and course-correct moving forward.
  • Create racial equity frameworks and other measures for nonprofits:

  • CREATE MORE FEDERAL FUNDING TO BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND PROVIDE HOUSING VOUCHER.  In the US over 6 million people are paying more than 50% of their income for housing and desperately need help. People of color are disproportionately burdened by unaffordable rents and many end up homeless. “Black people experiencing homelessness continue to make up a disproportionate share of the total homeless population across the nation, and Pasadena is no exception. Data from the 2020 Homeless Count reveal persistent and deeply rooted racial inequities, with 31% of people experiencing homelessness identifying as Black or African American, despite only representing 10% of Pasadena’s general population according to the American Community Survey (ACS)

 Census Bureau data.’ Page 7 of Pasadena’s 2020 homeless count:

Today we have a lottery system in which a few receive vouchers while the many are on waiting lists and never become “winners.”

US spends over ten times more on housing subsidies to wealthy homeowners than on affordable housing. According to a 2019 Report by the Brookings Institute, over 70 billion dollars in Mortgage Interest Deduction go to homeowners. Many are wealthy and white (making over $100,000 per year) and receive 77% of tax benefits. The cumulative tax benefits for homeowners are estimated to be $671 billion. In comparison, the U.S. spends roughly $46 billion a year on affordable housing.  Policies need to change so that low-income homeowners and renters receive their fair share of government subsidies. This would help equalize the enormous wealth gap between whites and Blacks.,down%20to%20around%20%2430%20billion.

Racism and Housing Forum

17 Jun

Please join us on Tuesday, June 23, at 7 pm for a Monthly Housing Justice Forum sponsored by Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH). Learn some key aspects of the history of racism and housing in our city and what can be done to address this problem.


Pasadena City Council Member John J. Kennedy, a leader of complex and diverse organizations, has significant experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He has devoted his life to community service as a civic leader and community organizer. His political involvement and extensive travel have provided him with knowledge and understanding of local, national and international government practices and procedures.

Dr. Jill Shook, D-Min BGU, is the Executive Director of Making Housing and Community Happen.  In 1991, she moved to Pasadena to learn from Dr. John Perkins, African American leader and founder of the Harambee Center and the Christian Community Development Association. After listening to the poorest and most marginalized population, she was led to become an advocate for affordable housing as a tool to help break the cycle of generational poverty. She is author of Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Models and does Housing Justice Workshops around the US.

When: Tues. June 23, 2020, 7:00-8:30 PM  Pacific Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

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


Join us Friday, June 12 at 9 AM PST, to learn and support re-zoning congregations to allow for affordable housing.

10 Jun

Historical Factors Accounting for Differences in Black and White Wealth and Home Ownership

4 Jun

The following article is by Lawrence Morse, a professor in the Department of Economics NC A&T State University (Retired May 2010).

This paper offers chronologies of institutional factors that have advantaged whites in the accumulation of wealth and in home ownership.

  1. Institutional factors that have advantaged whites in accumulating wealth

According to data collected by the Federal Reserve for its 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances in 2007 median household income was $30,851 for blacks and $51,418 for whites or white household income was 1.67 times that of black households. Also in 2007 median net worth was $17,100 for black households and $163,001 for white households.

{Net worth is the value of all assets minus all debts and hence a truer measure of what is “owned.”.} White household median net worth in 2007 was 9.5 times black household median net worth. The immense difference between the ratios of 9.5 for net worth and 1.67 for income in 2007 is the consequence of years of public policies and practices that have systematically advantaged whites in the accumulation of wealth.

The wealth disparity between black and white households has worsened sharply in recent years. The Pew Research Center 2011 report found that in 2009 median net worth was $5,677 for black households and $113,149 for white households and hence white household median net worth in 2009 was 19.9 times black household median net worth. The Bureau of Census reports 2009 median household income was $32,584 for blacks and $51,861 for whites or white household income was 1.59 times that of black households. (Kochhar, Fry and Taylor 2011) The enormous rise in the white-to-black household median net worth to 19.9 in 2009 as compared to a white-to-black ratio of 1.59 for median household income is explained primarily in the crash of housing values with black households experiencing a with much greater relative loses in home equity than was true for white households. An analysis of the causes of the 19.9 ratio is presented at the end of the section on institutional factors that advantaged whites in the accumulation of housing equity.  What follows now is a list of some of the federal policies and practices that systematically advantaged whites in their overall accumulation of wealth.

These policies and practices include:

The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War resulted in a massive transfer of land from Mexicans to white people throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, parts of Colorado, and small sections of what are now Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. (Lui et al. 2006)                                        

In 1849 nearly 100,000 white people were drawn to the California gold rush. The Free Soil provisions of the California state constitution allowed whites to claim and own land while banning slaves and free black people from doing so.

The 1862 Homestead Act that granted citizens 160 acres of land for free if they would farm it for five years. Blacks and Native Americans were not given citizenship status and hence were not allowed to participate. (Lui 2004) An estimated 46 million Americans living today are descendants of Homestead Act beneficiaries. (Lui et al. 2006)

There was a huge wave of European immigration from 1850 to 1920 and while ethnic and religious prejudices were often virulent, the prejudice against poor immigrants was different from the prejudice black people experienced in two important ways. One the prejudices against immigrants not encoded into law unlike the obstacles for people of color. Two new immigrants could encourage their children to become “American” by becoming “white.” While these were wrenching choices, unlike people of color at least most of the Irish, eastern and southern European immigrants had that choice. Despite the discrimination unskilled European immigrants faced during this period they regularly displaced African Americans as workers on canals, railroads, construction and docks.

The 1933 Agriculture Adjustment Administration policy that took Southern “traditions” into account by paying 4½¢ per pound of cotton not grown to the landlord who was to pay the tenant ½¢. (Dubofsky & Burwood 1990)

The 1935 Social Security Act did not extend coverage to farm and domestic workers. Blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be employed as farm or domestic workers. (According to the 1930 census 68.75% of gainfully employed blacks worked in agriculture or domestic services.) Twenty-two percent of white workers in covered occupations did not earn enough to qualify for benefits. The comparable figure for black workers was 42 percent. Consequently a much higher percentage of black workers than of white workers were not covered by Social Security at its outset. (Lui et al 2006) The advent of Social Security changed families’ attitudes toward not only how much to save, but what savings could be used for, including being able to afford higher education for children or making a down payment on a home, a home that might be the equity needed to obtain a business loan. {Domestic workers were included for Social Security coverage in 1950 and agricultural workers in 19954.}

The originally proposed 1935 National Labor Relations Act would have reserved the closed shop for unions that did not discriminate. The final legislation did not include the restriction on non-discriminating unions to use closed shops nor a clause barring racial discrimination by unions. The southern Democrats, who had voted to keep agricultural and domestic workers out of Social Security also excluded them from the NLRA. Furthermore, with the support of the AFL that was more interested in enhancing union power that reducing the discriminatory power of unions, were responsible for the changes in the final NLRA legislation. (Roediger 2005) Failing to disallow unions to engage in racial discrimination enhanced whites’ access to jobs and crafts that offered premium wages.

The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act did not apply to domestic and agricultural workers and consequently a much higher percentage of white workers enjoyed minimum wage protection and being paid time-and-a-half for certain overtime work. (Katznelson 2005) The segregation of the armed services during World War II did not limit white soldiers’ access to training in employable skills.

The 1944 GI Bill, formally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, did not mention race, but like other federal programs was locally administered and primarily assisted white veterans. The local administration resulted in white vets not only having greater access to vocational training but being more likely to receive training for skilled and semi-skilled vocations while black vets were usually channeled into training for unskilled vocations. The US Employment Service, set up by the GI Bill, tended to steer white vets into jobs commensurate with their skills while typically steering black vets into jobs below their skills. While over two million vets went to college on the GI Bill, they were primarily white as black vets were denied admission to many white campuses.

{While enrollment at black colleges went from 29 thousand in 1940 to 73 thousand in 1947, nonetheless between 15 and 20 thousand black veteran applicants could not be admitted for lack of space.} Furthermore, white vets were approved for home and business loans at much higher rates than were black vets. (See the discussion of home ownership below for details.)

A 1997 court approved consent decree found the US Department of Agriculture advantaged white farmers in the allocation of price support loans, disaster payments, “farm ownership” loans and operating loans between 1983 and 1997 thereby settling the class action law suit Pigford v. Glickman. {Timothy Pigford is a black farmer who was initially joined by some 400 black farmers in the class action lawsuit. Dan Glickman was the then Secretary of Agriculture.} The court approved consent decree awarded an estimated 75 thousand black farmers damages of $1.5 billion.

  1. Institutional factors that have advantaged whites in home ownership

Because homeownership is the prime vehicle for wealth accumulation, factors that disadvantaged blacks in the accumulation of home equity merit their own chronology. A smaller percentage of blacks own their own homes and have substantially less wealth or net worth than do whites. Nonetheless home equity is more important to black households that it is to white households. Black households’ equity in their homes is 62.5% of their assets, while home equity is 43.3% of white households’ assets (Oliver & Shapiro, 1995). Family wealth is an important determinant in the across-generations amassing of wealth, starting a business and so forth. Home ownership is importantly related to the creation of business wealth, for homes often serve as collateral when entrepreneurs start a business. Wealth also has telling effects on educational outcomes. Conley (1999) found that household wealth has a larger impact on various measures of children’s educational outcomes.

Also Shapiro (2004) found that modest financial assistance from parents allowed white families to make down payments on homes. Such financial support advantaged white

households in two ways: in being able to buy homes in neighborhoods with “better” public schools; and being able to make larger down payments that kept “points” from being added to the mortgage rate. The latter saved such white families thousands of dollars over the lives of their mortgages.

Percent of families owning their primary residence:

White Nonwhite White to Non-Hispanic or Hispanic Black ratio

1995            70.6%44.3%1.59
1998            71.846.81.53
2001            74.347.31.57
2007            75.651.91.46
2009* 74461.61

Source: Federal Reserve, Survey of Consumer Finances (various); the 2009 rates Kochhar, Fry and Taylor 2011.

The 1933 Home Owners Loan Corporation, created to help home owners and stabilize banks, gave none of its approximately one million loans to black home owners allowing a higher proportion of black home owners to lose their homes during the remainder of the Depression. (Liu et al. 2006) The HOLC created detailed neighborhood maps that, among other things, took into account the neighborhood’s racial composition as well as its likelihood of racial infiltration.

The Federal Housing Administration, established in 1934, was not explicitly a white program, but realtors and hostile white neighbors kept families of color out of white neighborhoods and the FHA condoned redlining practices initiated by the HOLC, which precluded loans in predominantly black neighborhoods.

The HOLC and subsequently the FHA created strong preferential options for whites as planners, builders and lenders were encouraged to promote racially and class homogeneous neighborhoods. (Roediger 2005) Up though the 1940’s FHA manuals and practices channeled funds to white neighborhoods and collaborated with blockbusters.

The policies disproportionately concentrated blacks into substandard houses. In 1948 the Supreme Court ruled against restrictive covenants and yet the FHA continued to push for them as conditions for loans. President Kennedy’s 1960 Order 11063 mandated federal agencies to oppose discrimination in federally-supported housing. The FHA did not communicate the Order to local offices. Indeed of the approximately $120 billion in new housing financed by the VA and FHA by 1962, 98 percent of it went to white home owners. These white recipients are the parents of the baby boomers, and their homes are a significant portion of the $10 trillion in inheritances now being passed down to the baby-boom generation. (Lui et al. 2006) The 1968 Fair Housing Act authorized HUD to investigate complaints yet HUD had no enforcement power and could only refer cases to the attorney general. (Lipsitz 1998)

The 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibited discrimination in real estate lending and required banks to record the racial identity of applicants rejected and accepted for home loans. While the 1974 Act had the appearance of ending racial discrimination in real estate lending, it is worth noting that the banks refused to collect the data, by race, on rejected and accepted applicants. In 1976 ten civil rights groups filed a suit to have the court order the FDIC and the Home Loan Bank Board to obey the 1974 law requiring the banks to keep and report the race data. In 1981 the FDIC ceased keeping race records when the court order ran out. President Reagan used the Paperwork Reduction Act to stop HUD from gathering data on the racial identities of participants in housing programs. (Lipsitz 1998)

Black families were targeted for subprime or predatory mortgage loans. Black households were much more likely than similarly qualified white households to be steered to a subprime loan. As a result black households were over three times more likely than white households to have a subprime mortgage. Subprime mortgages involved higher rates of interest and typically higher fees and, in turn, cost the average borrower tens of thousands of dollars more and were more likely to result in foreclosure. In December 2011the US Department of Justice, announced a $335 million settlement with Bank of America/ Countrywide for its predatory practices that targeted black and Latino households. The settlement noted that between 2004 and 2008 some 200,000 African American and Latino borrowers were charged more for their mortgages than were similarly qualified white borrowers. The Center for Responsible Lending found that over a thirty-year mortgage a typical subprime borrower would pay over $35,000 for their loan than if it had been a retail loan and being over three times more likely than whites to be in foreclosure that in turn meant the loss of billions of dollars of wealth. (Ernst, Bocian, and Li 2008.)

Between 2005 and 2009 black household median net worth fell 53% from $12,124 to $5,677 while white household median net worth fell 16% from $134,992 in 2005 to $113,149. (Kochhar, Fry and Taylor 2011). The devastatingly large 53% fall in black household median net worth compared to the 16% decline for white households is largely accounted for by the fact that black households who own homes have a higher proportion of their wealth in their homes than is true of their white counterparts. This means that black household wealth is relatively more sensitive to the consequences of being disproportionately subjected to subprime or predatory home loans with their attendant higher mortgage costs and likelihood of being foreclosed than is true of their white counterparts.

Furthermore between 2005 and 2009 black household net home equity—that is, value of the home minus the mortgage balance due—fell by 23% while the comparable figure for white households was 18%. (Kochhar, Fry and Taylor 2011) Not only did black households typically experience greater relative loss in housing value during the housing crisis, but in the period preceding the housing crisis, white owned homes appreciated at a median annual rate of 8.1% (2001-2004) and 5.1% (04-07) while black owned homes appreciated by 6.4% (2001-2004) and 4.6% (2004-2007). These percentages correspond to median annual increases of $85,000 for white-owned homes as compared to $45,000 for black-owned homes. (Data from 2001, 2004 and 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances.)

These data reveal is that the good years for homeownership and the poor years are impacted by the long history of policies and practices that have resulted in black households being limited, no longer legally, but in practice, in their access to home ownership in appreciating areas and confined to home ownership areas with diminished appreciation and greater depreciation because demand for their homes is restricted due to black households disparate access to more affordable mortgages and to finding that potential home buyers where they own their homes are typically narrowed to buyers of color rather than the whole range of potential home buyers.


  • Conley, Dalton. 1999. Being Black. Living in the Red: Race. Wealth. and Social Policy in America. University of California Press. Berkeley. CA.
    • Dubofsky, Melvin and Stephen Burwood, editors. 1990. Women and Minorities during the Great Depression. Garland Publishing, New York.
    • Katznelson, Ira. 2005. When Affirmative Action Was White. W.W.Norton. New York.
    • Lipsitz, George, 1998. The Positive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
    • Lui, Meizhu. 2004. “Doubly Divided: The Racial Wealth Gap,” in The Wealth Inequality Reader. Edited by Dollars & Sense and United for a Fair Economy. Dollars & Sense, Economic Affairs Bureau, Boston: 42-49.
    • Lui, Meizhu, Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose Brewer, and Rebecca Adamson. 2006 The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide. The New Press. New York.
    • Oliver, Melvin and Thomas Shapiro. 1995. Black Wealth/White Wealth. Routledge. New York.
    • Roediger, David. 2005. Working Toward Whiteness. Basic Books. New York.
    • Shapiro, Thomas. 2004. The Hidden Cost Being African-American. Oxford University Press, New York.

Please support the Overlay Zone for Congregational Land: Planning Commission Agenda item: 6. B.

26 May

May 27th, 2020

Dear Planning Commissioners,

             We are asking that the City consider adding an optional overlay zone to Pasadena’s city code that would allow congregational land to be used for the development of affordable housing. Essentially, we are asking that if 50% of the units are affordable, with an average affordability (for affordable units) at 50% of area median income, then church properties in commercial or public/semi-public zones would have residential permitted, and those in existing residential zones would be given the opportunity to have increased density.

We support the congregational Land Committee of MHCH. They have thoroughly researched what an appropriate density would be for Pasadena. Please consider the following: 

Base Density (du/ac) or Adjacent Density for PS ZonesAllowable Density (du/ac)
Less than or equal to 2032
32 (or any commercial zone with no residential permitted)64

We were in a severe housing crisis before COVID, and with this pandemic a 45% increase in homelessness is expected (approximately 250,000 new homeless people in the US). Many churches are willing to address this crisis by having affordable housing built on their property. Finding sites to build affordable housing can be one of the most challenging parts affordable housing development. This would not only provide sites, but sites with landowners already 100% in support of the housing with connection to their communities, minimizing concerns from neighbors. Additionally, with land that is already paid for, affordable housing developers would not be paying for land and carrying costs during the 2-3-year pre-development phase. This fact, and the zoning certainty, will help attract top-quality housing developers who will produce high-quality and sensitive developments. Housing developments will also be able to be constructed with less subsidy from the City.

             If that is not enough, another good reason to support an overlay zone, it will enable the city to go a long way in reaching their RHNA goals with the potential of thousands of additional affordable housing units. The Congregational Land Committee already has one church with an RFP of 48 units and another with a potential of 100 units. Yet, they need this overlay zone change so that they can move forward on their mission to bless the community with housing they can afford.



Please send to this letter by 9am May 27th, following the instruction on this link:

MHCH Subcommittee Update 5/26/2020

26 May

ADU Subcommittee

Subcommittee Leader:  Anne Marie Molina


  • On May 21st the ADU subcommittee met with its new members to review goals and to check the status of current research reports
  • We have tentatively scheduled the next meeting for June the 11th, 2020 at 3:30 with a possible guest speaker. Isaac is a young developer who works for Homestead and is interested in ADU construction. He and his brother were influenced by their father, a gerontologist, and the idea of aging in place molded their company. 

See here for more information:  

  • On Wednesday, May 27th the Planning Commission will provide an update on ADU Regulations and a recap of the actions completed by the Planning Commission and City Council related to ADU’s.

 Case Manager: Arlene Granadosin-Jones 

Agenda Link:

Anne Marie will request the planning commission consider community meetings with an educational component where homeowners can speak to representatives regarding unpermitted ADUs and concerns regarding the process.

Safe Parking Subcommittee

Subcommittee Leader: Tom Petersmeyer


  • The Safe Parking committee meets every other week – our last meeting was on May 25th. Safe Parking is a night-time program for people experiencing homelessness and sleeping in their vehicles. The program provides a safe place to park vehicles, and participants are given support as they work towards being rehoused, and reemployed.
  • Our committee has two churches interested in the safe parking program, and we’re hoping to spread throughout the San Gabriel Valley. We also have one person interested in providing $5,000 towards the program.
  • Our committee is developing a presentation we can use to introduce safe parking to churches. We are currently researching the best way to provide security, funding, and grants.
  • The Pasadena Planning Commission (PPC) will meet this Wednesday, which is our opportunity to request a change to the ordinance prohibiting people from sleeping overnight in their vehicles. We will email letters to the PPC.

Congregational Land Subcommittee

Subcommittee Leader: Phil Burns


  • The Congregational Land Committee has been extremely busy. We meet every other Friday and have done a number of presentations with local pastors to educate them about our overlay zone proposal, which would enable churches to have affordable housing on their property. Phil Burns our chair, done excellent research on this.
  • We now have one church ready with 48 units and an RFP to be broadcast to potential affordable housing development partners. We have a second church close with a potential of up to 100 units. Thanks to our partnership with LA Voice we now have 26 churches throughout LA county interested and seven in Pasadena. We are hopeful that a zone change happens soon to allow these churches to accomplish their mission.
  • We have received a $20,000 grant and are researching how to put that into a revolving loan fund so that we can continue to serve churches.

Homeless Housing Subcommittee

Subcommittee Leader: Anthony Manousos


  • The Homeless Housing committees’ most exciting news this month came when the City Council finally approved Heritage Square South for 69 units permanent supportive housing–a campaign that began two and a half years ago and was the origin of our committee.
  • We continue to partner with Everyone In to promote Project Roomkey in other cities in the San Gabriel Valley, including Rosemead. This was another win since after considerable public pressure, the Rosemead City Council decided not to oppose Project Roomkey.
  • Thanks to Sonja Berndt, a retired attorney, we have also begun focusing on state affordable and homeless housing policy. The Homeless Housing Committee wrote letters of support to a batch of new bills coming down in Sacramento.
  • Our committee also made a decision to rally support for the church overlay policy of the Congregational Land Committee:

See here for more information on the overlay zone in Pasadena:

Church Liaison Network

Church Liaison Coordinator: Bert Newton


  • The Church Liaison Network’s goal is to have 20 liaisons in 20 faith congregations in Pasadena by mid-August. A liaison represents their congregation at monthly meetings and organizes their congregation to advocate for affordable housing.
  • This past month, we added two liaisons and one church to the program and lost one liaison.
  • We currently have 20 people who have identified themselves as liaisons or assistant liaisons, representing 17 specific churches, and one group of churches. Not all the liaisons have been recognized yet by their congregations.
  • Our network has a couple of people who don’t identify as liaisons but are helping us reach out to another group of churches.
  • We are now running monthly trainings for liaisons. Our past topics included the housing element, overlay zone, how to do one on ones, and how to tell your story. To become a liaison for your faith community, contact Bert Newton.

North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative

  • The N Fair Oaks Empowerment initiative, started 10 years ago by asking businesses north of Washington and below Woodbury what they liked about their community and what they want to see changed. That lead to 150 surveys, an employment street fair and many changes–including the installation of a $286,000 traffic signal to help slow traffic.
  • Our team includes: pastors and members from Bethel, New Life Holiness, New Life, New Guiding Light Missionary Baptist churches and Integrated Community Options.
  • We are committed to “Beautify and Not Gentrify” by providing affordable housing, slowing traffic and an employment center. Over 90% of the 82 COVID deaths in Pasadena have been in our neighborhood.  To express our love and grief we have donated 366 fabric masks to residential care facilities.  These were provided by Patricia Switzer of Poway, Rose City Church, Lincoln Avenue Community Church, Connie Milsap and others. We thank you for caring about our community!
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