Tag Archives: Christian Community Development Association

Aljazeera Features how to be Downwardly Mobile for Jesus

14 Oct

I just returned from this year’s Christian Community Development Conference where over 3,000 attended. This year we met in Raleigh, NC. I feel so honored to be part of a national network of followers of Christ committed to Reconciliation, Redistribution and Relocation–the three “R”s that are the core of CCDA. This article that appeared on the front page of Aljazeera explains well some of the long term ramifications of developing under-resourced communities. Investing in a low income community can attract higher income neighbors pushing up the housing costs. This year I helped coordinate a Housing Symposium and an Action Tank–which looked at policies to help prevent housing displacement. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this amazing article.

Mathew Loftus holds a meeting of New Song Community Church's mental health group in his house after Sunday service.

Meet Matthew Loftus. “He doesn’t fit into the typical narratives about changing American communities. On one hand, recent housing policy has encouraged integrated suburbs by helping low-income families access communities of opportunity with more jobs, less crime and better schools. When integration moves the other way — into poor urban neighborhoods — it often tips over into gentrification as upscale amenities arrive, taxes and rents rise and longtime residents get priced out.”

Read the rest of Downwardly mobile for Jesus

Photo credit: Brooks Kraft for Al Jazeera America

Intentional Neighboring, Transformed Neighborhoods

28 Mar
Jacklyn Walker and Sebrina Sims (5)

Mrs. Jacklyn Walker (center) with her daughter Sebrina Sims (right), a Charis homeowner, and her granddaughter. Born and raised in South Atlanta, Mrs. Walker has been intentionally neighboring there for many years.


Making Housing Happen exists because of Bob Lupton.

Bob is the founder of FCS Urban Ministries, and I had heard him tell a certain story so many times, I practically had it memorized. It was the story of his role in turning the Atlanta Stockade — formerly a notorious prison – into GlenCastle: 67 beautiful and affordable loft apartments.

Finally, at a Christian Community Development Association conference, I asked Bob if this story had ever been published. He said it hadn’t. “If I put together a book highlighting all the ways that faith-based groups are building affordable housing,” I said, “would you write up this story as a chapter?”

The rest is history, and Bob’s story appears on pages 81-86 of Making Housing Happen – one of many inspiring examples. (You can read an excerpt of the chapter here, or purchase the book here.)

Interior and Exterior (23)

The story of GlenCastle — transformed from a notorious former prison into beautiful apartments — was the inspiration for the book Making Housing Happen: Faith-based Affordable Housing Models.

GlenCastle was just the start of FCS’ housing ministry. Charis Community Housing works hand-in-hand with FCS as part of the organization’s overall community development efforts. According to Jim Wehner, who joined Charis as executive director in 2008, FCS got its start in the Grant Park area of Atlanta. Bob Lupton moved there in the early 1980s, working with young men in the juvenile detention system as part of Youth for Christ.

Relocating into the community and being a friend and mentor, Bob was doing “community development” before it really became a formal practice, Jim notes. “Bob’s work was much more on the ground, and it drew people into the vision.”

Relationships are still at the heart of FCS and Charis, which get to know one neighborhood at a time. Once FCS identifies an area, four to six individuals or families (staff members and community chaplains) are recruited to move into the neighborhood and to look for long-time residents who already are “living with purpose” there.

The FCS families are encouraged to listen and learn from these residents and to join them in intentionally neighboring the community. “Together, they become part of its fabric and work toward strengthening the neighborhood,” explains Christy Taylor, assistant director of community development. Meanwhile, Charis staff work on finding properties that can be transformed into affordable homes, and help residents empower themselves to address challenges.

Part 2 will explain more about how Charis works.


Making Affordable Housing Flourish through Local, State and National Advocacy

11 Mar

Making Affordable Housing Flourish through Local, State and National Advocacy

This year I hope to do a workshop at the Christian Community Development Association National Conference in Durham, NC, in Sept with Robert Baird and Samuel Gunter–both amazing folks.

Our topic: Making Affordable Housing Flourish through Local, State and National Advocacy. Below are Robert and Samuel’s bios and the description of the workshop we hope will be approved. Can you join us at the  CCDA Conference?

Workshop Description:

“How do we help policies and leaders protect, preserve and add affordable housing stock? How do Moses, Esther, and Jesus help us to understand advocacy?

These questions will be addressed by exploring: a brief survey how US housing policy has both devastated and/or helped our communities; joys and challenges of a ministry’s involvement in advocacy work.

A range of successful approaches and initiatives will be discussed with a more in-depth focus on: No-Net-Loss and Inclusionary Zoning–creating hundreds of affordable units without government funding, using smart growth best practices.”

Presenter bios:

Robert Baird, a community planner advocate, works on land use issues for Community Health Councils, a non-profit community-based policy organization in South Los Angeles.  His work includes efforts at developing healthy food retail in urban food deserts, zoning initiatives that address gentrification and displacement, urban design initiatives to promote health and wellness, and economic development policy in under-invested communities.  He and his wife, Jenny, helped plant New Life Community Church in East Los Angeles.

Samuel Gunter is the Faith Relations Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. He grew up abroad as the child of missionaries, served as a Peace Corps volunteer and an AmeriCorps member, and has worked in churches as well as faith- and issue-based advocacy organizations. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and Duke Divinity School and is married to Isela Gutierrez.

Jill Shook works as a catalyst to transform communities. She is author of Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models, 2012. She earned degrees from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Multnomah School of the Bible, Denver Seminary (MA), and Bakke Graduate School (DMin).

Jill has led teams from UC Berkeley and Harvard to developing countries, and has founded STARS, a tutoring program; Pasadena’s Gun Buyback, and gang prevention initiatives. An adjunct lecturer at Azusa Pacific University, Bakke Graduate University, and Denver Seminary, she is married to Anthony Manousos, a Quaker peace activist.

“Everyone ’Neath Their Vine and Fig Tree”

19 Feb
Anthony Manousos and Jill Shook

Anthony Manousos and Jill Shook

Last Thursday the Whittier Daily News published a commentary written by my husband, Anthony Manousos, and me. We’re thrilled at this chance to share about issues of faith, stewardship, and social justice with the greater Los Angeles community.

We enjoy both co-authoring and co-speaking. In fact, on Sunday we spoke at the Quaker meeting in Santa Monica about each of our books. It was very well received and people were inspired to deeper trust and action. We closed by singing our marriage theme song, based on Micah 4:3-4: “Everyone ’Neath Their Vine and Fig Tree,” which is the article title.

In the commentary, Anthony and I discuss the ways in which we try to live out our beliefs. Among them is my work in affordable housing, based in my view of Jubilee and of justice for all, especially lower-income people.

Here are some excerpts:

Although my wife Jill and I come from very different theological perspectives—I am a liberal Quaker, and she is an Evangelical Christian—we share many core values in common, including a deep concern for God’s creation. We both believe that the “earth is the Lord’s” and we have a responsibility to treat the earth, and all life, as sacred. …

“God’s green earth” begins in our own backyard and local community. Jill and I do what we can to make our lifestyle sustainable. We grow our own organic fruits and vegetables … We have a passive solar system to heat water for our showers. We are installing a solar power system and are using gray water. We hope to reduce our water consumption by 20-25% and electricity bill by 100% within the next year. …

We also advocate for policies that will benefit the poor and the environment. As a member of the Christian Community Development Association—a multi-ethnic, interracial group of Evangelical Christians committed to economic justice—Jill advocates for policies to create walkable, less car-reliant communities that are racially and economically mixed. …

Jill’s views on housing and the environment are grounded in the biblical idea of Jubilee, which means the God is the ultimate owner of all land. She argues for the creation of more community land trusts (CLT) because in a CLT, people own their homes but lease the land. CLTs ensure that housing will remain permanently affordable. Over 200 cities have CTLs that provide affordable housing to low income workers.

You can read the full article on the Whittier Daily News website. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and how you may also be trying to live out your faith.

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