The growing housing crisis cries out for solutions that work. As many as 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, half of them women and children. One in four renters spends more than half of their income on rent and utilities (more than 30 percent is considered unaffordable). With record foreclosures and 28 percent of homes “underwater,” middle- and low-income homeowners are suffering.
Many congregations want to address this daunting problem yet feel powerless and uncertain about what to do. The good news is that churches are effectively addressing the housing crisis from Washing- ton State to New York City—where an alliance of sixty churches has built five thousand homes for low-income homeowners, with virtually no government funding or foreclosures.
This book not only presents solid theological thinking about housing, but also offers workable solutions to the current crisis: true stories by those who have made housing happen. Each story features a different Christian denomination, geographic area, and model: adaptive reuse, co-housing, cooperative housing, mixed-income, mixed-use, inclusionary zoning, second units, community land trusts, sweat equity, and more.
Making Housing Happen is about vision and faith, relationships, and persistence. Its remarkable stories will inspire and challenge you to action. This new edition includes significant new material, especially in light of the ongoing mortgage crisis.
From the Foreword by Dr. John Perkins
In 1942 when I was 12 years old, I received fifteen cents for a day of backbreaking labor in Mississippi. Though a poor, uneducated, black youngster, I was smart. I quickly figured out that ownership of the wagon, the mule, and the land would lift people from poverty. Since that day, I determined to struggle with solutions that would break the crippling poverty cycle….
I have committed my life to the kind of community development across the US and beyond that challenges the church to bring about a more equitable redistribution of land and community resources. And this is what Making Housing Happen: Faith-based Affordable Housing Models is about.
I have had the honor and privilege of knowing and mentoring many of the authors in this book—including Jill Shook, who lived and worked with us at the Harambee Center in Pasadena, California. Jill has taken this book beyond my own focus on community development to include models of community organizing—a process that provides a voice for the faith community to address public policy. This book is about both public and personal transformation. The shared-equity models like the community land trusts that Jill includes are on the cutting edge of housing policy today. By including cohousing, cooperative housing, and community land trusts, Jill speaks to the core of so much of the loneliness, isolation, individualism, and materialism that is destroying our society.
Making Housing Happen goes to the root of the housing crisis, a crisis that today has contributed to an all-time high in homelessness, but is also affecting middle- and low-income populations.
Yes, I figured out early on that land ownership and the skills to manage it would go a long way in shaking off the bonds of poverty, but God had to first get at my heart and show me how to walk in his grace and love. The process of personal and public transformation is unique to each person and each community. Each story in this book gives us a glimpse of God’s expression in the world. Just as the Bible tells stories of God’s work in individuals, communities, and nations, this book tells God’s story of how affordable housing has been created by churches across our landscape. Principles of best practice are embedded into these stories . . . as well as principles of faith. This book tells how God has orchestrated housing ministries beyond what small and large churches dared to dream could be done. They stepped out, trusting in God’s provision, believing that God cares deeply that everyone has a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home.
This book powerfully unfolds some of the best theological thinking that is foundational for an effective housing ministry—how land is a central theme of the Bible and is at the core of the gospel. It also shows the grip of racial issues that still play an integral part in housing inequity today, keeping people in poverty—isolated and without hope.
Making Housing Happen provides hope. It shows how denominations from coast to coast have dreamed outside the box and come up with creative housing solutions that are cutting across economic and racial boundaries, and stand as demonstrations of God’s love.