AFFORDABLE HOUSING ROCKSTARS

We at MHCH cannot do our work without the dedication and hard work of our numerous volunteers and supporters, all of whom deserve recognition. Some have done such extraordinary work that we have given them “Affordable Housing Rockstar Awards” at our annual celebrations.  Here are our honorees:

2021: “A Change is Gonna Come” celebration

Rick Cole served on our ASHA team and was instrumental in starting the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition. Rick is deeply committed to the revitalization of cities and is especially concerned for its low-income and homeless residents. In 2006, he was selected as one of Governing Magazine's nine "Public Officials of the Year", noting his “urban revival skills.”  He currently serves as the executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism and an advisor to Mayor Gordo on housing matters. He teaches urban policy at Occidental College, his alma mater. Rick has a masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and co-founded the Pasadena Weekly.

He has been Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation for the City of Los Angeles, as well as the city manager of Azusa, Ventura (2004–2012), and Santa Monica (2015–2020). He served 12 years in elective office in his hometown of Pasadena, including deputy mayor from 1990 to 1992 and mayor of Pasadena from 1992 to 1994.

Rick has demonstrated a deep moral commitment to affordable housing with considerable knowledge and expertise. He has written brilliant op ed pieces and spoken out eloquently on the need for housing justice. He is also involved in his Catholic faith: he served as parish administrator at the San Buenaventura Mission in 2012. We are grateful for Rick’s passionate and thoughtful commitment to Pasadena’s vision that there be decent, affordable housing for everyone in our city.  

Brita Pinkston has served as senior pastor of Pasadena Foursquare Church for 10 years and has been on the pastoral staff for 26 tears. Throughout her ministry Brita has demonstrated an enthusiastic and heart-felt commitment to following Christ and serving the most vulnerable.  Her commitment stems from relationships with unhoused people and those struggling with housing insecurity. Her church is part of the MHCH liaison network and has participated in prayer vigils that led to the City’s approving 112 units of affordable senior housing on a city-owned lot next to City Hall. Her church is very involved in the Pasadena Housing Coalition and organized a “Living Pasadena” fair this summer to address our city’s housing crisis. This event, which brought together the community in a celebration through art, music, and story-telling, and educated people about the proposal for a zoning amendment that would greatly increase the capacity of churches to partner with affordable housing developers. Her church has 9 affordable housing units on its campus and wants to help other churches partner with affordable housing developers to build more affordable housing to address the crisis that is driving up homelessness and causing public schools to close and families to leave the city. We are grateful for Brita’s wholehearted support and for allowing us to use her church for our annual MHCH celebration.

Margaret Muñoz  worked as a community organizer with Abundant Housing LA in the San Gabriel Valley and studied Urban Planning at USC. MHCH has partnered with Abundant Housing since we have common goals,  such “reforming land use and zoning codes, which are needed in order to make housing more affordable, improve access to jobs and transit, promote greater environmental sustainability, and advance racial and economic equity.” Margaret is currently employed by the Arroyo Group and works under the supervision of Phil Burns, chair of the MHCH Congregational Land Committee. Margaret played a key role in organizing the Pasadena Housing Justice Coalition and helped craft many of its policy recommendations.  In January of 2021 she published an Op Ed in Pasadena Now announcing the formation of this Coalition. We are grateful to Margaret for all she has done, and is doing, to ensure that our city faces the challenge of ensuring that everyone in our city has decent and affordable housing.

 

Ed Washatka is a champion of progressive causes in Pasadena. Whether it’s the $15-per-hour minimum wage, police accountability, or housing justice, Ed is out there, speaking out and mobilizing people to take action. Ed became involved with MHCH several years ago when MHCH advocated for increasing the inclusionary set aside so that 20% of new housing units developed in our city would be affordable. Ed co-founded Pasadenas Organizing for Progress (POP!) in 2016 and is co-chair of POP’s housing justice committee. Ed is an awesome mobilizer and did a fantastic job of growing the Pasadena Housing Justice Coalition which now comprises 16 local organizations, including MHCH, POP!, NAACP, NDALON, ACT, and the League of Women Voters. It studied and proposed significant changes to the Housing Element to ensure that it meets its goal of planning for sufficient housing for all income levels. We’re deeply grateful to Ed for the amazing work he does to promote progressive causes, particularly around housing justice. 

 

2020: “No Place Like Home” Celebration

 

Councilmember Margaret McAustin was honored for championing Marv’s Place, which provides homes for 19 formerly unhoused families. When accepting her award, she praised MHCH:  “As an organization, MHCH has grown so much. It has become an organization that researches and studies best practices that help inform city policies on affordable housing. That’s how affordable housing becomes more a part of our city in everything that we do.”

 

Councilmember Kennedy was honored for his bold vision: to see 1,000 units of affordable housing built in the next three years. Additionally, he supported affordable housing at Heritage Square South (70 units of homeless senior housing) and the Civic Center (112 units of affordable housing, with 10% set aside for the unhoused).  When accepting this award, he said: “I want to see the city do more than just adopt a policy directive to house low, very low and extremely low-income residents. These categories are the hardest to produce. But if the city partners with developers to produce this housing, we as a community can get this done.”

Bert Newton was honored for his tireless commitment to social justice and for his extraordinary work  as an organizer for MHCH, enlisting congregations and people of faith in housing justice advocacy. Coming from his deep commitment to take seriously the teachings of Jesus, Bert has been involved in organizing around many issues, including anti-sweat shops and immigration reform. He and his wife Gloria even had a refugee living in their home who was seeking resettlement. Demonstrating such a deep compassion for those on the margins of society, as Jesus did, for years Bert's career as a housing specialist was to serve those with mental illness and those coming out of jail.  He was often frustrated because there were few affordable units available to place his clients.  Today in his work with MHCH, he is organizing to create more affordable housing for those in need.

Allison Henry is a tenant organizer and housing advocate in Pasadena.  She is a co-founder of the Pasadena Tenants Union and a co-founder of the San Gabriel Valley Tenants’ Alliance.  Locally, she has helped create policies to strengthen tenant protections and to build a base of support for tenants and their housing struggle.  She led the 2017-18 campaign for rent control in Pasadena.  Allison got involved in housing by organizing her neighbors to meet with their local councilmember after a large rent increase.  That meeting with the local official showed Allison the direct and dire need for tenants to advocate for themselves and represent the lived experience of the majority of residents.  In April 2021, Allison was appointed by Pasadena’s Mayor to the Housing Element Task Force to be a voice for the tenant majority.  When not poking local elected officials on housing, Allison enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and adopted greyhound, and writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  Allison is a native Californian, a child of immigrants, and has BA degrees from University of California, Riverside and an MA from California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo.

2019: “Affordable Housing Rocks”

Dan Davidson. Pastor Dan, of the Rose City Church, served as chair of Pasadena’s Partnership to End Homelessness Faith Community Committee and has encouraged people to embrace advocacy along with providing services. He has been extremely supportive of MHCH and has spoken at several Housing Justice Institutes on the best practices to end homelessness. He understands the value of the Housing First model, and why permanent supportive housing is what ends homelessness.

 

Teresa Eilers: An organizer with Everyone In (United Way), Teresa demonstrated  tremendous understanding of housing justice and how to be an effective organizer. With love and great talent, she has connected with the key players and elected leaders in the San Gabriel Valley. She has helped to organize successful events such as the Homeless to Housed Bus Tours. In addition to being a superb organizer, she is a good listener and an articulate speaker.

Blair Miller:  Blair is a tireless affordable housing developer and advocate. She consistently shows up at the City Council and now serves on the Planning Commission, always supporting policies and zoning needed to make affordable housing happen. She came up with the idea of continuing our past efforts of hosting Homeless to Housed bus tours, which help to dispelling myths about affordable housing, by enabling key leaders to get inside beautiful affordable housing, see how it transforms communities and lives. She helped create a team to plan two more highly successful Homeless to Housed Bus Tour.  In recent years, she also played a very significant role in our efforts on North Fair Oaks by deploying a team to create focus groups, who helped to identifying specific things like cross walks, signage, fixing broken sidewalks and “Complete Streets” plan to slow traffic—and how to get these things done.

Anne Marie Molina: She was homeless as a teen. Today she is married, with five children and dealing with a life-threatening disease. Her commitment to housing justice goes back to when she helped to save hundreds of people from foreclosure by giving them home loan modifications. When she decided to build an ADU for her mother-in-law(a granny flat for granny) she turned a challenging situation into an opportunity to help others. She joined MHCH and began to learn how to be an advocate. She has involved her family, including her daughter Lili, in housing justice work. She has created a team to learn all they could about ADUs, how to create a prototype to lower the cost and streamline the application process.  She and her team have become involved in advocacy at the local and state level. She has truly become a housing justice rock star.

Liliana Molina. At age 15 she has demonstrated commitment and leadership beyond her years, advocating for housing justice at the City Council, meeting with elected officials, and involving her friends in this work. She has served as an assistant to Jill and as an intern in the Pasadena Housing Department. She recently started an Advocacy Club at her school.

 

In addition to these volunteers, co-founder Jill Shook has received numerous awards for her work, some of which are listed here:

 

2019 - Jill Shook was given the Habitat for Humanity 2019 Stability Award. She was recognized in May at an annual Habitat Women Build event with the goal to bring women together to build homes in partnership with future women homeowners and to raise awareness about how the housing crisis disproportionately affects women. The letter stated, “We couldn’t think of a better person… than you to give the stability award. Month after month and year after year, your dedication, advocacy, passion and persistence, has brought about much needed housing policy, funding and housing developments (including the Desiderio homes) for our community.”

 

2019 - The County of Los Angeles recognized Jill Shook “for her dedicated service to the affairs of the community and for the civic pride demonstrated by numerous contributions for the benefit of all the residents of LA County.”

2018 - Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena nominated Jill Shook to receive a Social Justice award.
 

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2016 - A Certificate of Recognition for Dr. Jill Suzanne Shook by the 41st Assembly District 2016 Women of Distinction Nominee was signed March 3rd by Assembly Member Chris Holden.
 

2016 - Jill Shook was selected as one of eight Design and Planning Visionaries of the Year in 2016. Recognition was given for advancing the community and quality of life by Day One, during their October Art night, when hundreds of people are bused between all the art museums and galleries that are open for free.

 

2006 - A Jill Shook college trust fund was created for the children of STARS—Students and Tutors Achieving Real Success. The award accompanied with the honor of the fund’s name reads, “In Grateful Recognition, This Award is presented to Jill Shook “With Deep Appreciation For Your Faith In God, Your Visionary Leadership, And Your Commitment To The Children, Youth and Families Of Northwest Pasadena” as Founder of STARS. Presented by the Lake
Avenue Church Community Foundation, October 28, 2006”

 

2004 - Jill Shook received an award by a local church for leadership in affordable housing.
 

1997 - Lake Avenue Church Community Partner of the Year 1997, for visionary leadership and “for
casting your lot with the residents, and especially the children of Northwest Pasadena.”