Come learn how churches can build affordable housing on their land… and what it takes to make it happen in Pasadena.

11 Oct

Blessed Place affordalbe housing on church land

Register in advance for our educational meeting on Sat.  Nov. 21 at 10 am and learn how churches can build affordable housing on their underutilized land, and what it takes to make it happen:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwudemprToiGtGmhH1Xb0FNwsNTC6odC2mu

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

*******

Any questions, contact Jill Shook,  jill@makinghousinghappen.org  or 626-675-1315   view our website: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/congregational-land

Ballot Propositions: Find out where MHCH stands

9 Oct

 

YES on Prop 15: Requires only commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value and dedicates revenue for colleges and schools in lower income areas.

NO on Prop 19: Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules, with extra tax revenue going mostly to Fire Protection Fund.

YES on Prop 21: Expands local governments’ power to allow local rent control.

YES on Measure J: Sets aside 10% of LA County budget for alternatives to incarceration, including social services and affordable housing.

YES on Measures O and P which provide funding for schools and city services in Pasadena. See https://www.pusd.us/MeasureO  and https://www.cityofpasadena.net/measurep/

Scroll down for faith-based perspectives on other ballot propositions.

******************************

Please save these dates and join us online for the  “There’s No Place Like Home” celebration of MHCH with music, stories and presentations.  Dec. 4, 7:00 pm, Dec 5 4:00, and Dec 6 4:00 pm.To register go to https://makinghousinghappen.org/celebration

Also please continue to donate to our work and consider making recurring donations at http://makinghousinghappen.org/donate 

*********************************

For faith-based perspectives on propositions, see the CA Church IMPACT blog: http://www.churchimpact.org/impact-blog. and https://www.fclca.org/ (Quaker)

Church IMPACT

Quaker

Prop 14:

YES

NO

Prop 15:

YES

YES

Prop 16:

YES

YES

Prop 17:

YES

YES

Prop18:

YES

YES

Prop 19:

YES

NO

Prop 20:

NO

NO

Prop  21:

YES

YES

Prop 22:

YES

NO

Prop  23:

YES

NO

Prop 24:

NO

NO

Prop 25:

NO

YES

Relive “There’s No Place Like Home”: Our Online Celebration of MHCH

6 Oct

theres no place like home

 

Despite COVID, Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH) has been thriving and has had significant successes. This year on Dec. 4-6 MHCH celebrated its annual event “There’s No Place Like Home” online with music, stories and presentations about our housing justice work. Nearly 200 people showed up for these events–people of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds, united by a common concern for ending homelessness and housing insecurity. You can see the videos of each night, edited by our talented assistant Morgan Tucker:

FRIDAY: “Affordable/Supportive Housing and Building Affordable Housing on Congregational Land.”  Emcee, Anthony Manousos. https://youtu.be/Ee5uzGRfidU

SATURDAY: “Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Community Land Trust (CLT).” Emcee, Bert Newton. https://youtu.be/uaJJBqej8GM

SUNDAY: “Safe Parking and North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative.” Emcee, Jill Shook.  https://youtu.be/Oa64pEbE14g

You can also see individual video presentations by scrolling down.

We’re seeking to raise $25,000 to support our housing justice work in 2021, and we’re now three quarters of the way to our goal. Please consider making a contribution, especially on a recurring basis. That’s what provides our organization with financial stability. 

Click here to donate

Links to individual videos:

FRIDAY DEC 4 
“There’s No Place Like Home”(Animation with music by Elvis) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4D1wm3BK3o
Affordable/Supportive Housing Advocates (ASHA) Team https://youtu.be/Db5JPGx3nzM
Mythbuster on Affordable Housing – Teresa Eilers https://youtu.be/jjmUeQUfUkQ
Congregational Land Subcommittee https://youtu.be/Qhr4K49Obgo
Andre White’s Housing Story/Spoken Word “Breathe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw1z-xQ9lno
Areta Crowell (Pasadena Presbyterian Church) https://youtu.be/l3f61Xs-TQc
Bert Newton’s Housing Story https://youtu.be/-6tlvxaK_CE
Award – Council member Margaret McAustin https://youtu.be/pJSwj36xGFM
Music Video by John York and Barry McGuire – “California Dreamin’ “/”Tramp on the Street” https://youtu.be/A31LHKf2Z2Y
Heather Rim
SATURDAY DEC 5
There’s No Place Like Home (Animation) – Opening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4D1wm3BK3o
ADU Video https://youtu.be/amgGRfLdK-Y
Anne Marie’s Housing Story https://youtu.be/E0xjTey3TLk
Brita Pinkston Video https://youtu.be/qXg2BbXEtHQ
Community Land Trust (CLT) Subcommittee https://youtu.be/PQiExXp_z_I
John Deron Johnson Video https://youtu.be/jjwjGRfyRD4
Award – John Kennedy https://youtu.be/8bfxxq3pHv0
Award – Allison Henry https://youtu.be/ej8q40mf1h8
Music Video John York and Barry McGuire- “Day for a Daydream”/”One Step from Homeless” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPn5u16IkHw
Heather Rim https://youtu.be/YaNXpThglME
SUNDAY DEC 6
There’s No Place Like Home (Animation) – Opening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4D1wm3BK3o
Safe Parking Video https://youtu.be/ykBu9e8sh1M
Methodist UMC https://youtu.be/NDlpVSLC1iw
North Fair Oaks – Thanks, David! https://youtu.be/InYCC-wMV-o
Gilbert Walton Video https://youtu.be/dn0kJBZaV0E
Music Video # 3 – Bob Dylan/Tramp on the Street https://youtu.be/9KvWa71oRj4
Cynthia Kirby Housing Story https://youtu.be/Bj0q5cUD51E
Heather Rim https://youtu.be/YaNXpThglME

Click here to donate

Cynthia Kirby shares her moving story about the transforming power of affordable housing and how advocacy makes a difference

3 Oct

a cynthia kirbyMy name is Cynthia Kirby, I am 49 years old, a wife, and a mother to my amazingly strong 19-year-old daughter.

I was placed on permanent disability at age 28 and  went from making 60K a year to less than $1000 per month.

The strain of my disability ended my first marriage. My parents provided some support until I wound up in an abusive relationship that brought  with it criminal elements  and crystal meth.

I spent the next decade in and out of homelessness, struggling with my addiction and domestic violence. I slept in my car, stayed in abandoned houses, or moved from motel to motel. The night I turned 40 I spent in a grocery store parking lot, afraid to fall asleep.

I had just met my current husband, relapsed after 8 years in recovery. I’d also been in recovery, but I had struggled with the program’s spiritual emphasis. I was curious about how he’d come to believe and he shared the Word of God with me.

But life seemed hopeless, so I leveled an ultimatum at whatever  higher power might exist: It had one year to convince me to continue living.

In that year, even though my mom died, my husband was incarcerated, and I waited for him desperately alone on the streets of Pasadena, God wooed me, building the foundation of my relationship with Him. At the one-year mark, my husband was released from jail and I took it as a sign that God listened.

We wanted to get married and find housing, but we had few options on disability income. God used connections we had made on

the street and in recovery to help us achieve stability. My husband was accepted into Union Station Homeless Services’ adult center. Three months later, we were married and I was invited into the program. We received a housing voucher, which included permanent supportive services—people helping us  to rebuild our lives— though it took nearly a year to find an apartment because of the affordable housing crisis.

Today, I’m a member of Union Station’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel, work part-time at my church, First Baptist Church Pasadena, and am the director of our children’s choir. I have more than 8 years of sobriety, am a student at PCC and have nearly a 4.0 GPA! Gratitude for a life I never thought I would have and my amazingly intimate relationship with  God carry me.

When I heard about Jill Shook and her work in Pasadena, I attended a Housing Justice workshop, became a member of  Making Housing and Community Happen, and served as their liaison with my church. It has been a blessing to advocate for permanent housing solutions, to be a part of direct democracy, to realize that my voice is powerful.Working with Jill, I’ve been to City Counsel Meetings, had one-on-one meetings with Councilmembers, spoken with the Mayor—and who am I? Can I do this? I’m a citizen. and a community member, and my voice matters.The advocacy, prayer vigils and sleep-outs by Heritage Square led to its approval, and now it’s being built; the work they do works.

Everyone should support MHCH’s pioneering work to equip faith communities to  be the church, be the hands that feed. Please, join us in building a better community.

To hear her story on Youtube, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj0q5cUD51E 

[With thanks to Peter Havholm, who interviewed Cynthia Kirby and helped her to shape her story. Thanks also to Morgan Tucker, who produced this video.]

Allow Churches to Build Affordable Housing on Church Land: Talking Points

3 Oct

On October 5, the Pasadena City Council will consider zoning changes (called an “overlay zone”) which  would allow churches to affordable housing on their excess land (#18). This could lead to over 1,000 units of affordable housing spread throughout the city. Seventeen churches in Pasadena have indicated interest in this and one church now has a proposal for 50 affordable units!

Please use the sample letter below this picture to write to the City Council regarding this zoning change.

To learn more, check out this Overlay Zone Fact Sheet 2020.09.25 (5)

Sample letter to send to the City Council for agenda items #16 and #18.  This letter must be submitted any time between now and 2 hours prior to the Monday, 2pm City Council Meeting (Oct 5th) to: correspondence@cityofpasadena.net  

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council members,

My name is ________________ and I am a member of _______________________________.  (your church, a club, a neighborhood association, etc..)

We desperately need more affordable housing in Pasadena! Use one of the of the following as a prompt to create your own personal one-two sentence story:

  • Our church used to be full of Pasadena residents, but many of them have had to move away because housing costs are so high!
  • My business cannot pay enough to cover my employee housing cost.
  • My aunt ??? left our city to due to the cost of housing and she baby sat for me creating a real hardship for us.
  • I had to take on extra work to cover the cost of housing and leaving less time for my family or church.

Continue with the following:

There are two major opportunities for affordable housing:

  1. Affordable housing on the Water and Power site in the civic center.
  2. Affordable housing on church land.

The Water and Power site has been sitting vacant for many, many years and is certainly “surplus” land which the law prioritizes for affordable housing. Furthermore, the need for this housing is great! Please do all that you can to speed this process along!

Churches across Pasadena are stepping up to offer their land for affordable housing, but they need the zoning to be changed to let them do that! This zoning change will speed up the process of building the housing we need and will make the process considerably less expensive, which makes affordable housing dollars stretch further so that more can be built. Please advise the Planning Commission to work with the Planning Department to make the necessary zoning change.

Thank you for your service to our community!

With your name here.

More talking points for Overlay Zone to allow congregation to build affordable housing on their excess land.

 #1: We are asking the City Council to support an overlay zone because the time to address the need for affordable housing is now, more than ever. And we have religious organizations throughout the City eager to be partners in making this happen.

 Simply put, an overlay will save significant time, significant money, and provide certainty for both the religious organizations willing to provide affordable housing and the communities where that housing will be located.

By supporting an overlay zone that will ensure the majority of housing that will be developed is affordable, the City can ensure that projects are feasible and done in a way that minimizes the need for City or other public money to make affordable housing happen.

An overly zone is needed and superior to other suggestions of incorporating such zoning to Specific Plan update of Public/ Semi-Public zoning designation so because these planning processes would not adequately address the unique needs of congregations.

#2: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide new land that would not otherwise be available for affordable housing. This is a significant opportunity when so few sites exist. Using church land is a huge opportunity for affordable housing developers to have feasible and successful projects. When they work with churches, 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. Yet, if churches wish to supply affordable housing, the cost and time needed to create a zoning change on a case-by-case basis as opposed to an overlay zone, can be significantly lowered if there such a policy is in place. Plus, it makes the deal attractive to a more experienced developer.

#3:  An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide an opportunity for the city to significantly reach affordable housing production goals and further its goal of being a diverse community. Housing Element (2014-2021) vision:

 “All Pasadena residents have an equalright 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.” 

#4: An overlay zone that enables churches to build affordable housing provides an opportunity for churches to participate in addressing the homeless and housing crisis.  From the poll we conducted, 17 churches are interested in having affordable housing on their land, with the potential of 1,177 units if a Congregational Land Overlay Zone is passed. 95% of churches would support a Congregational Land Overlay Zone to help other churches build housing on their land. Additionally, 19 churches (nearly half of all respondents) would allow SAFE parking on their church’s parking lots. And 11 churches were open to having a FEMA trailer on their property. Twelve churches already own approximately 58 rental units. Only six of them rent at market rate.

#5: An overlay zone that would allow community minded congregations that are already willing and mission-driven to become partners with the city to meet a very real need make good sense.  This also allows religious institutions to practice their faith in a very tangible way. Community based organizations would do this sensitively and respectfully out of love for their neighbors. They will live with this for the long term, so design in keeping with the neighborhood and a commitment to good relationships with neighbors will go a long way in addressing NIMBYISM. 

#6: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will allows for both  flexibility and certainly enabling sensitive solutions and designs for each site. Certain development standards will need to be addressed to provide enough flexibility for projects to be feasible. An overlay zone allows for the kind of certainly with flexibility to balance sensitivity to the project and the adjacent neighborhood in regard to appropriate densities and parking requirements to enhance the character of the neighborhood.

#7: An overlay zone for churches to build affordable housing minimized the money, risk and time for affordable housing developers. They cannot invest a great amount of time, money and risk into rezoning processes, and they will not take this time when there are other, simpler opportunities available in other cities.

#8: Because churches are throughout the city an overlay zone would spread affordable housing development through the city providing geographic equity and opportunity and investment in neighborhoods. The city would be wise to take advantage of this since so few sites exist especially in all areas of the city.  In Pasadena, for example, we estimate that there is capacity to build approximately 5,000 units of affordable housing on excess congregational land (the number of affordable units needed with the new RHNA numbers for the 2021-2028 Housing Element cycle). We know that not all congregations will do this, but the potential is significant. An overlay zone would ensure that any housing be built would be within city guidelines appropriate for each community. We must recognizing the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation, and base of support in the community.  An overlay zone would help the city to go a long way toward meeting an urgent need.

#9::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 over-sized parking lots, high-maintenance buildings, and extra space. 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 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, an overlay zone enabling churches desiring to have affordable housing on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis.

#10: Churches have a successful track record of partnering with affordable housing developers to provide affordable dwellings on their excess land. Some churches have already put parking lots, buildings constructed for congregations much larger than those of today, and other space on their properties to higher and better use by including affordable housing. In partnership with National Core (which developed Marv’s place in Pasadena, the UMC church in Santa Ana will be providing 95 units, half for families and half for those experiencing homelessness. Churches are doing this because they are called to serve the community and particularly its most vulnerable residents. Yet at the same time, they are also often able to generate a modest level of economic benefit that stabilizes these often struggling, but longstanding and critical institutions of our social fabric. In some cases, affordable housing developers have even provided additional parking for a church or developed other community serving uses on a site. Adopting an overlay zone that would enable churches, feeling so lead, to provide affordable housing on their property. Such a policy would make the process more straightforward, facilitate high quality partnerships with affordable housing developers to create much-needed affordable housing.

#11: Rezoning church land is one way that the city can make right with past sins of racial inequities that served to displace people of color.  With Urban renewal, a thriving African American neighborhood where Parsons now sits was displaced, moving them away from the city center, which today is zoned for 90 units per acre. They were not given the opportunity to capture the added value of the land from up-zoning, but instead encouraged to leave. Thriving Black communities and businesses on N. Fair Oaks were also displaced because of urban renewal. The 210 Freeway pushed out even more people of color. Too many families were not sufficiently remunerated for their property to again buy in Pasadena.  And if they wanted to, banks often would not provide them loans and they often were barred from obtaining private mortgage insurance. Due to significant displacement, one church has 8 members left. Several have closed. As one pastor put it, their church building is in Pasadena, but no one from their congregation can afford to live here anymore. Rezoning church land to allow for affordable housing would serve to prevent more displacement and correct past sins.  Some Black churches are eager to provide affordable housing on their underutilized land, please allow them to do so.

#12: Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and have dedicated themselves to feeding the homeless, tutoring children, raising the City’s youth, keeping people in their homes. This history of investment in the community and neighbors creates a perfect marriage with new neighbors living in affordable housing on their property.

#13:   Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and but many today are on the ropes because of long term trends, COVID-19 and today some need ways to generate income and reduce expenses to be able to continue in their mission. Affordable housing on their property can do just that.

#14:  An Overlay Zone is a locally-focused solution that will do a better job than proposed state legislation. A local solution designed by the community enables us to craft the kind of creative neighborhood-based housing solutions that enhance the design, beauty and character of our city.

Let the Pasadena City Council know that you support affordable housing at the Civic Center and on church land

2 Oct

             

The Pasadena City Council will be voting on two important items on Monday, October 5th, and your voice can make a difference. 

First, they will be voting on whether to approve using the Civic Center for affordable housing by declaring the site surplus land (#16). Proposals have already been submitted that would produce 100 units for families and other low-income folks, including those experiencing homelessness.Talking points for your letter can be found at this link: https://makinghousinghappen.net/2020/09/30/talking-points-for-affordable-housing-at-the-civic-center/

Second, they will consider zoning changes (called an “overlay zone”) which  would allow churches to affordable housing on their excess land (#18). This could lead to over 1,000 units of affordable housing spread throughout the city. Seventeen churches in Pasadena have indicated interest in this and one church now has a proposal for 50 affordable units! To learn more about this proposal, we invite you to join us for an educational session tomorrow, Oct. 3, Sat at 10am, if you are unable to join us this Sat, we will be offering this same session for the next three Saturdays. See attached flyer with the live link for registering for the Zoom meeting or here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArcOqhrDkrHNbj7O3lNyYSX7w73hWWoDMt

Sample letter to send to the City Council for agenda items #16 and #18.  This letter must be submitted any time between now and 2 hours prior to the Monday, 2pm City Council Meeting (Oct 5th) to: correspondence@cityofpasadena.net  

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council members,

My name is ________________ and I am a member of _______________________________.  (your church, a club, a neighborhood association, etc..)

We desperately need more affordable housing in Pasadena! Use one of the of the following as a prompt to create your own personal one-two sentence story:

  • Our church used to be full of Pasadena residents, but many of them have had to move away because housing costs are so high!
  • My business cannot pay enough to cover my employee housing cost.
  • My aunt ??? left our city to due to the cost of housing and she baby sat for me creating a real hardship for us.
  • I had to take on extra work to cover the cost of housing and leaving less time for my family or church.

There are two major opportunities for affordable housing:

Continue with the following:

  1. Affordable housing on the Water and Power site in the civic center.
  2. Affordable housing on church land.

The Water and Power site has been sitting vacant for many, many years and is certainly “surplus” land which the law prioritizes for affordable housing. Furthermore, the need for this housing is great! Please do all that you can to speed this process along!

Churches across Pasadena are stepping up to offer their land for affordable housing, but they need the zoning to be changed to let them do that! This zoning change will speed up the process of building the housing we need and will make the process considerably less expensive, which makes affordable housing dollars stretch further so that more can be built. Please advise the Planning Commission to work with the Planning Department to make the necessary zoning change.

Thank you for your service to our community!

With your name here.

More talking points for Overlay Zone to allow congregations to build affordable housing on their excess land.

 #1: We are asking the City Council to support an overlay zone because the time to address the need for affordable housing is now, more than ever. And we have religious organizations throughout the City eager to be partners in making this happen.

 Simply put, an overlay will save significant time, significant money, and provide certainty for both the religious organizations willing to provide affordable housing and the communities where that housing will be located.

By supporting an overlay zone that will ensure the majority of housing that will be developed is affordable, the City can ensure that projects are feasible and done in a way that minimizes the need for City or other public money to make affordable housing happen.

An overly zone is needed and superior to other suggestions of incorporating such zoning to Specific Plan update of Public/ Semi-Public zoning designation so because these planning processes would not adequately address the unique needs of congregations.

#2: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide new land that would not otherwise be available for affordable housing. This is a significant opportunity when so few sites exist. Using church land is a huge opportunity for affordable housing developers to have feasible and successful projects. When they work with churches, 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. Yet, if churches wish to supply affordable housing, the cost and time needed to create a zoning change on a case-by-case basis as opposed to an overlay zone, can be significantly lowered if there such a policy is in place. Plus, it makes the deal attractive to a more experienced developer.

#3:  An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will provide an opportunity for the city to significantly reach affordable housing production goals and further its goal of being a diverse community. Housing Element (2014-2021) vision:

 “All Pasadena residents have an equalright 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.” 

#4: An overlay zone that enables churches to build affordable housing provides an opportunity for churches to participate in addressing the homeless and housing crisis.  From the poll we conducted, 17 churches are interested in having affordable housing on their land, with the potential of 1,177 units if a Congregational Land Overlay Zone is passed. 95% of churches would support a Congregational Land Overlay Zone to help other churches build housing on their land. Additionally, 19 churches (nearly half of all respondents) would allow SAFE parking on their church’s parking lots. And 11 churches were open to having a FEMA trailer on their property. Twelve churches already own approximately 58 rental units. Only six of them rent at market rate.

#5: An overlay zone that would allow community minded congregations that are already willing and mission-driven to become partners with the city to meet a very real need make good sense.  This also allows religious institutions to practice their faith in a very tangible way. Community based organizations would do this sensitively and respectfully out of love for their neighbors. They will live with this for the long term, so design in keeping with the neighborhood and a commitment to good relationships with neighbors will go a long way in addressing NIMBYISM. 

#6: An overlay zone enabling churches to build affordable housing will allows for both  flexibility and certainly enabling sensitive solutions and designs for each site. Certain development standards will need to be addressed to provide enough flexibility for projects to be feasible. An overlay zone allows for the kind of certainly with flexibility to balance sensitivity to the project and the adjacent neighborhood in regard to appropriate densities and parking requirements to enhance the character of the neighborhood.

#7: An overlay zone for churches to build affordable housing minimized the money, risk and time for affordable housing developers. They cannot invest a great amount of time, money and risk into rezoning processes, and they will not take this time when there are other, simpler opportunities available in other cities.

#8: Because churches are throughout the city an overlay zone would spread affordable housing development through the city providing geographic equity and opportunity and investment in neighborhoods. The city would be wise to take advantage of this since so few sites exist especially in all areas of the city.  In Pasadena, for example, we estimate that there is capacity to build approximately 5,000 units of affordable housing on excess congregational land (the number of affordable units needed with the new RHNA numbers for the 2021-2028 Housing Element cycle). We know that not all congregations will do this, but the potential is significant. An overlay zone would ensure that any housing be built would be within city guidelines appropriate for each community. We must recognizing the power of congregations as allies with their excess land, missional orientation, and base of support in the community.  An overlay zone would help the city to go a long way toward meeting an urgent need.

#9::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 over-sized parking lots, high-maintenance buildings, and extra space. 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 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, an overlay zone enabling churches desiring to have affordable housing on their property would provide a huge leap forward in addressing the housing crisis.

#10: Churches have a successful track record of partnering with affordable housing developers to provide affordable dwellings on their excess land. Some churches have already put parking lots, buildings constructed for congregations much larger than those of today, and other space on their properties to higher and better use by including affordable housing. In partnership with National Core (which developed Marv’s place in Pasadena, the UMC church in Santa Ana will be providing 95 units, half for families and half for those experiencing homelessness. Churches are doing this because they are called to serve the community and particularly its most vulnerable residents. Yet at the same time, they are also often able to generate a modest level of economic benefit that stabilizes these often struggling, but longstanding and critical institutions of our social fabric. In some cases, affordable housing developers have even provided additional parking for a church or developed other community serving uses on a site. Adopting an overlay zone that would enable churches, feeling so lead, to provide affordable housing on their property. Such a policy would make the process more straightforward, facilitate high quality partnerships with affordable housing developers to create much-needed affordable housing.

#11: Rezoning church land is one way that the city can make right with past sins of racial inequities that served to displace people of color.  With Urban renewal, a thriving African American neighborhood where Parsons now sits was displaced, moving them away from the city center, which today is zoned for 90 units per acre. They were not given the opportunity to capture the added value of the land from up-zoning, but instead encouraged to leave. Thriving Black communities and businesses on N. Fair Oaks were also displaced because of urban renewal. The 210 Freeway pushed out even more people of color. Too many families were not sufficiently remunerated for their property to again buy in Pasadena.  And if they wanted to, banks often would not provide them loans and they often were barred from obtaining private mortgage insurance. Due to significant displacement, one church has 8 members left. Several have closed. As one pastor put it, their church building is in Pasadena, but no one from their congregation can afford to live here anymore. Rezoning church land to allow for affordable housing would serve to prevent more displacement and correct past sins.  Some Black churches are eager to provide affordable housing on their underutilized land, please allow them to do so.

#12: Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and have dedicated themselves to feeding the homeless, tutoring children, raising the City’s youth, keeping people in their homes. This history of investment in the community and neighbors creates a perfect marriage with new neighbors living in affordable housing on their property.

#13:   Churches are and have been for many years an indispensable part of our City’s social fabric and but many today are on the ropes because of long term trends, COVID-19 and today some need ways to generate income and reduce expenses to be able to continue in their mission. Affordable housing on their property can do just that.

#14:  An Overlay Zone is a locally-focused solution that will do a better job than proposed state legislation. A local solution designed by the community enables us to craft the kind of creative neighborhood-based housing solutions that enhance the design, beauty and character of our city.

Talking Points for Affordable Housing at the Civic Center

30 Sep


On October 5, at 2 pm, the Pasadena City Council will be considering whether to use vacant, city-owned land next to City Hall for affordable housing or sell it to the highest bidder. See agenda: http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/2020%20Agendas/Oct_05_20/agenda%20COVID.asp

The City Council solicited proposals for affordable housing on this site, and three excellent proposals were submitted. See https://www.pasadenanow.com/main/developers-lay-out-plans-for-historic-ywca-building/

Last year the City Council agreed to prioritize affordable housing on this site and subjected this site to the state Surplus Land law, but now they must formally declare this site surplus land so they can consider proposals for affordable housing that were submitted in response to the City’s request for proposals (RFP). If they don’t declare it surplus land, then it must be sold to the highest bidder.

Below some 200-word talking points for you to consider. Please choose one that speaks to you and feel free to express it in your own words. Please follow one of the following procedures to submit commits.

Members of the public may submit comments of any length up to two hours prior to the start of the meeting, at the following email address:  
correspondence@cityofpasadena.net
. These comments will become part of the public record and will be read by City Council members, but not read aloud during the public meeting.

During the meeting, members of the public may submit up to 200 words regarding items on the agenda, at the following webpage:
www.cityofpasadena.net/city-clerk/public-comment
. You can choose to have your comments read aloud.

Start each of your talking points by stating your name, district, and something about yourself. How long you have lived here, religious affiliation, occupation, etc.

#1:  I am writing in support of the Planning Department staff recommendation that the Ramona property be declared surplus land, exempt from CEQUA, so it can be used for affordable housing. As you know, the Surplus Land Act requires local agencies—such as cities and transit agencies—to prioritize affordable housing on such land.  As the Planning Department Staff noted, using this site for affordable housing is consistent with the General Plan. The City Council already issued an RFP prioritizing affordable housing on this site, for which there is an urgent need. Developers have presented excellent proposals for affordable and supportive housing. I urge you to take the steps necessary so that these proposals can be considered and approved, and construction of much needed affordable housing can begin.

#2: I urge you to declare the Ramona site to be surplus land so you finalize approving this site for much needed affordable housing. During this election cycle both candidates for mayor and all the other candidates for office affirmed that they support affordable housing. You have an opportunity to show that you meant what you said. As a Christian, I feel we have an obligation to house the poor, just as the early Christians did in Acts 4. Jesus tells us that communities will be judged on how they treat the marginalized. “As you did for the least of these, you did it for me” (Matt 25:40). Let’s set a shining example for other cities by housing our low-income residents in our City’s heart, the Civic Center.

#3: I am writing to urge you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land so that you can consider the excellent proposals that have been submitted by outstanding affordable housing developers. I am very impressed with the three proposals presented during the recent Planning Department’s public meeting. Abode, Bridge and National Core all have proven track records in our city. Because of the City’s RFP, they have expended considerable time and effort to come up with worthy proposals.  Because of the urgent need, I’d like to see affordable family housing along with a component of supportive housing on this site.  I also like the idea of a public courtyard that will attract visitors, as does the courtyard of the City Hall. These elements will help to vitalize and activate the Civic Center. The center of our city near City Hall has been idle and empty far too long. Let’s help our city to have a brighter future by completing our Civic Center with a project we can all be proud of.

#4: I am writing to encourage you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land because it makes good economic sense to build affordable housing on this site. The City’s RFP states that the project should “serve as a catalyst for continued economic growth and provide economic benefits” (p. 5).As you know, affordable housing is an economic stimulus since it is required to have 20 percent local hires, 20 percent local contractors and 20 percent local materials. This will bring millions of dollars to the Pasadena economy at a time when such an influx of funds is urgently needed. Financial considerations are not only or main reason to use this site for affordable housing, however. The need for such housing, especially for families, is critical. Homeless people who currently sleep on and around this vacant property desperately need housing. As a person of faith, I believe we have a moral imperative as well as financial incentive to use this site for affordable and supportive housing. The prophet Zechariah tell us that the LORD Almighty calls us to  “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another”  7:9 (NIV)

#5: I’m writing to urge you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land and using it for affordable housing because we need to do all we can to address the housing crisis in our city. I know that the City Council feels that the RHNA numbers are unrealistically high, but there is no disputing the fact that the need for affordable housing in our city is huge and growing. Over 23,000 people are on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in this City. The last Housing Element indicates that 36% of Pasadenans are low or very low income. 79% of the 16, 730 lower income renters pay more than 30% of their income on rent. Many families are forced to double up, which can create problems for their children. Having 90-100 affordable unit to the Civic Center won’t solve this enormous problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.

#6 : I’ m writing to urge you to approve declaring the Ramona site surplus land and using it for affordable because it’s a matter of justice. We need to use public land for public good.  We need to provide affordable housing to low-income worker who are risking their lives during this pandemic to provide essential services. They are waiters, grocery store workers, and nurses. They serve our city well but most can’t afford to live here.  As a person of faith, I take to heart what it says in Proverbs 31: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

#7: I am writing you to take prompt action in approving affordable housing in the Civic Center because the need is great and growing because of the pandemic and the economic downturn. It is important to take deliberate action, but taking ten years to approve a YMCA project has caused unanticipated problems. We need to move forward expeditiously during this crisis. A Columbia study estimates that the homeless population could increase by 45% in the next year. Evictions are expected to increase. By approving affordable housing in our Civic Center, we are showing that we are at heart a compassionate city.

#8 I want to thank the City Council for prioritizing affordable housing on the Ramona site. You acted wisely and in the best interests of our City. Now it is time to take the next step and approve declaring the Romona site surplus land so it can actually be used for affordable housing. As a person of faith, I believe that housing those who are low income and homeless not only benefits our city, it is also a blessing. We know from experience that affordable housing transforms lives. People like Dorothy Edwards, Shawn Morrissey, and Cynthia Kirby all lived for many years on the streets of our city. Thanks to supportive housing, they have now become useful and important members of our community. They are now “paying forward” the blessing that they received by helping others. The words of Psalm 41 seem relevant to our challenging times: “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.”


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MHCH Advocacy 101: How to help end homelessness and transform our city

11 Sep

If you’d like a PDF version of our “Advocacy 101” Monthly Housing Justice Educational Forum, click here: Advocacy 101 Sept 22

MHCH’s efforts have helped create over a thousand units of affordable housing and over 135 units of permanent supportive housing for those who are unhoused. Join us as we learn from experienced advocates how a faith-rooted approach can help end homelessness and transform our city through decent and affordable housing. Come and learn skills needed to engage our elected officials to make housing and homelessness a priority during this time of economic downturn and pandemic. 

Presenters at our “Advocacy 101” Forum:


Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra is the author with Dr. Peter Heltzel of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World (Intervarsity Press) and the founder of the Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNet- work. She is a Lutheran Pastor with over 40 years of experience in community ministry, including church- based service and community development programs, congregational and community organizing, and leg- islative advocacy. She has been a national leader in the areas of working poverty and immigration for over 20 years. Alexia received her doctoral degree in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Seminary and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Integral Mission and Global Transformation at Fuller.

Dr. Anthony Manousos is a Quaker peace activist, retired college professor, and co-founder of MHCH along with his wife Jill Shook (whose book Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Mod- els he helped to edit). He currently chairs MHCH’s Affordable/Supportive Housing Advocates (ASHA) and successfully led a campaign to convince the Pasadena City Council to approve 69 units of permanent sup- portive housing for seniors at Heritage Square South. Anthony serves on the board of a national Quaker lobby called Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL.org) and organizes lobby visits both locally and in DC. He has authored/edited seven books and his many articles have appeared in Quaker and professional journals. He blogs about peace, justice and spirituality at laquaker.blogspot.com

MHCH Affordable Housing and Environmentalism Forum

13 Aug

You’re invited to our MHCH Monthly Housing Justice                 Educational Forum. Learn about the environmental dangers posed by the ill—conceived Spacebank housing development in East Pasadena, and how and why affordable housing is often the most environmentally friendly housing ever built.

When: Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020    7:00 PM Pacific Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpfuutqDgoGdehT5uwIWpPx9oaax1fvg3F

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

For more info, contact Jill@makinghousinghappen.com.

For more info contact Jill@makinghousinghappen.com

SPEAKERS:

Kristin Shrader-Frechette is O’Neill Family Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Philosophy, at the University of Notre Dame. She has previously held senior professorships at the University of California and the University of Florida. She has been personally affected by environmental pollution: her  mother died of an environmentally-induced cancer at the age of 43, leaving seven children motherless in Kentucky. Not only does she know her science–with degrees in mathematics and philosophy as well as post-doctoral work in biology, hydroecology, and economics–she is also well versed in Catholic social teaching. Here in Pasadena she has taken up the cause of making sure that any housing built at the Spacebank, a site contaminated with toxic waste from military testing, is safe for children and families.

Tim Kohut, AIA, is Director of Sustainable Design with National Community Renaissance, a regional Developer/Builder of affordable housing.  Tim works with design teams, construction teams and subcontractors implementing strategies aimed at high performance and energy efficiency and to ensure that all projects are built to meet the strictest accessibility requirements.  He is a Certified Accessibility Specialist (CASp), a Certified Energy Analyst (CEA), Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater, and Building Performance Institute (BPI)Energy Analyst.  Tim has spent more than 20 years designing, building, and consulting on affordable housing projects throughout Southern California.

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:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUqceChrDsuE9ealBspC7ihrOY1Gq1ovthz

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 interfaithquaker@aol.com.  For more info, see makinghousinghappen.org and laquaker.blogspot.com. 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.

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