Tag Archives: Jill Shook

Churches Can Initiate the First Step to Ending Homelessness by Counting

14 Oct

Pasadena is a model in many ways, with a host of volunteers conducting yearly homeless counts which provides hard data that has allowed the city and other non-profits to apply for funding and housing vouchers.

If a city has homeless and they haven’t yet conducted a count, this is the first step to ending homelessness. The Census Bureau itself does not require homeless counts and cities can often deny that they have homeless residents; this is where the Church can play a pivotal role. The book of Chronicles as well as other chapters throughout the Bible provide detailed lists of people by name recorded for all eternity. Churches can make visible the often invisible by initiating and participating in a count. Churches can contact Urban Initiatives to learn how homeless counts should be conducted and can play a significant role in the first step to ending homelessness.

Contact The Office of Urban Initiatives at Fuller Seminary

The city of Pasadena has done an excellent job of providing a significant level of services and housing for the homeless community thanks to Bill Huang, Director of Housing & Career Services, and Joe Colletti, Executive Director, of Urban Initiatives. The article below by Lauren Gold describes Pasadena’s 2014 homeless count and the significant role of Fuller Seminary.

“Homeless Count Helps Provide Data for Services” by Lauren Gold, reporter at Pasadena Star-News

Photo Credit: James Carbone for the Pasadena Star News


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.

How Simple Physical Activity Could Stave Off Depression

5 Mar

How Simple Physical Activity Could Stave Off Depression.

Okay, so my blog is about affordable housing, but there is a close link between sufficient density to create affordable units, proximity to jobs, and places we frequent so that we can walk and stave off depression.

I found myself falling into depression yesterday. This article was part of what helped to lift my spirits. I have also been reading “City of God, City of Satan: A Biblical Theology of the Urban Church” by Robert Linthicum, and was encouraged by his comment on page 176:

“If people believe they are helpless to do anything about the forces that constrain them, then they are indeed helpless.”

We have the power to create change in our cities when we show up at Planning Commission and City Council meetings. Our group of housing advocates in Pasadena, CA, also spends one-on-one time with these leaders.

I thank God that with his help I had the courage to walk out of the downward cycle of depression I was in yesterday.

Jill Shook

Housing, Health and Walkable Cities

5 Mar

Donald and I have recently began dialoguing about housing.  The conversation quickly moved to zoning changes needed to better plan our cities. Higher density housing often provides the opportunity for affordable units to be included… and it is often coupled with walkable streets.

If you ask people why they live where they do, most of the time it has to do with the cost of housing and safety. Where I live in Pasadena, the freeways are jammed from 3-7 pm with folks going home to what they see as safer, better, and often bigger and more affordable housing.

But they don’t always realize how this has a huge cost on the health of the environment, our bodies, our families and more.

Much research is being done on how to design our cities in a way that our jobs are closer to where we can afford to live, and with more walkable distances between where we live, shop, and work.

Jonathan, my other friend who is working on creating “complete streets” here in Pasadena, sent me this wonderful video from Every Body Walk. “Complete streets” allow space for bikes, walking, and cars — but cars slowed a bit to safer speeds.


I was inspired. I hope you are as well. Let me know what you think. Jill Shook

“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.

Pasadena defers decision on affordable housing commission

10 Feb
City Hall, Pasadena, CA, site of City Council meetings.

City Hall, Pasadena, CA, site of City Council meetings.

On Sunday, Feb. 9th, the Pasadena Star-News covered the City Council’s February 3 meeting. In this meeting, the council approved Pasadena’s draft Housing Element, which will guide Pasadena’s affordable housing policy for the next eight years.

Lauren Gold, the reporter, wrote about Natalie Brown, age 11 (who spoke at the City Council), and also mentioned my book, Making Housing Happen.

Now it’s my prayer that folks in Pasadena will be encouraged to read it and be inspired by stories of faithful people across the US that have dreamed big dreams to address the housing crisis — and have actually made those dreams happen.

Here’s an excerpt from Lauren’s article:

Housing activist Jill Shook, who has authored a book on faith-based affordable housing, said she had hoped the city would have taken action on the commission to take a more active approach to the problem voiced by speakers Monday.

“I’m grateful that so many people and churches showed up to express their concern for affordable housing and to support the creation of a housing commission that would help give the focused attention this urgent need deserves,” Shook said. “It is possible to address this complex issue, it takes creativity, faith and imagination. Money is rarely the issue.”

You can read the full article on the Pasadena Star-News website. Let me know what you think of it.

Photo: cc by humbleopinion

Making Housing Happen book review in Friends Journal

6 Feb

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed..." --Isaiah 58:6I was excited to have Making Housing Happen reviewed in the January issue of Friends Journal. Published by Friends Publishing Corporation, the journal serves the Quaker and wider communities through “articles, poetry, letters, art, and news that convey the contemporary experience of Friends.”

The book reviewer is Diane Randall, former executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, a Connecticut-based nonprofit focusing on affordable and supportive housing. Diane, who is now executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, writes:

How do people get caught up in the issue of affordable housing? Some do because they are poor and in need of a home that is safe and affordable, some because they see economic and environmental injustice played out in poor neighborhoods, and they are called to address it.

In the second edition of Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models, editor Jill Suzanne Shook addresses reasons why people of faith engage in the long-term commitment to create affordable housing that builds stronger communities. This book will resonate with those of us who have sought to justify zoning laws for housing density that make homes more affordable, those who have lobbied for independent apartments for people who have been chronically homeless, or those who have used any other approach that allows people to have a place to call home. Builders who have volunteered sweat equity on projects for first-time homeowners will also be interested….

You can read the full review on the Friends Journal website.

Photo: cc by Matti Mattila

Saving Public Housing?

30 Jan

My friend Diane Miller, who just finished reading my book, made some nice comments. “I just finished reading MHH and was so encouraged by it. I love all of the tangible examples of what people are doing around the country.” I’m quite impressed with Diane’s efforts to save some public housing in Chicago. See the link below for more information about the work that she is doing.


With changing national policy, many public housing developments have been torn down.This is a good thing, but it has many unintended consequences of displacing residents. The HOPE VI funding is creating wonderful mixed income communities, but many of us feel that there is a need to retain some public housing. What do you think?

MLK, Housing, and Civil Rights

23 Jan

cc-by-tychayWe are here today because we are tired. We are tired of being seared in the flames of withering injustice. We are tired of paying more for less. We are tired of living in rat-infested slums and in the Chicago Housing Authority’s cement reservations.

–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, one aspect of his legacy that has sometimes been overshadowed was his advocacy for affordable housing. But as Terri Ludwig points out, ending discrimination in housing and ensuring decent, low-cost housing for all was inseparable from Dr. King’s overall mission.

Terri is president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a national nonprofit that provides capital and knowledge to create affordable homes. In “MLK’s Housing Legacy,” she writes, his July 1966 speech at the Chicago Freedom Movement launched a housing movement in the city that quickly gained results:

In August 1966, activists and city officials reached a “summit agreement,” through which the local housing authority promised to build more public housing and the Mortgage Bankers Association agreed to enact certain anti-discrimination rules. … After signing the Chicago summit agreement, Dr. King called it “the first step in a thousand-mile journey.”

Ultimately, Dr. King’s efforts would culminate in the signing of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — the Fair Housing Act, banning discrimination in home sales and rentals. In signing the law, President Lyndon Johnson credited Dr. King’s vision and advocacy for contributing to its passage – which, sadly, happened a week after his tragic death.

You can read the full article on the Huffington Post.

Photo: cc by tychay

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