Making Housing & Community Happen equips congregations, community leaders, and neighbors with practical tools needed to transform their communities, to end homelessness, and to stabilize the cost of housing through education, advocacy, organizing and advisement.
This is done in a four-pronged approach:
Education: One-day housing justice institutes and a one-year housing justice cohort along with other initiatives that are educational in nature such as bus tours, workshops, course work, and speaking engagements serving to connect congregations with key staff, affordable housing developers, visualize community assets, as well as to be familiar with biblical land use principles, US and local affordable housing policies, and best practices to end homelessness.
Advocacy: The N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative and Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG), equips advocates with the strategies and tools needed to do research, reflection, and action on behalf of housing justice and community transformation.
Organizing: Listening to and organizing around the community’s stories, dreams and concerns; nurture leaders who love God, neighbor, community and self, who can see and feel the pain, visualize the community and church assets, grow in their ability to establish partnerships, such as with affordable housing developers, and other nonprofits like LA Voice.
Advisement: With the support of professional advisors we empower churches with a vision to have affordable housing on their land by walking through a discernment process with the church, consider the many options, create a site plan, financial feasibility and conduct community input with the goal of a finding the appropriate affordable housing development partner to create and manage the housing.
In case you’re wondering about the “vine and fig tree” motif in our logo, and the reference to Micah 4:4, this biblical passage fits with our vision that everyone is to have decent, safe, and affordable housing. The context of this verse is important, starting with
“He will arbitrate among the nations and dictate to strong nations far away. They will beat their
swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall no longer fight each
other, for all war will end. There will be universal peace, and all the military academies and
training camps will be closed down.” Living Bible (TLB)
The very next verse then speaks of God’s vision for society that is a result of peace:
All will sit underneath their own grapevines,
under their own fig trees.
There will be no one to terrify them;
for the mouth of the LORD of heavenly forces has spoken.
Common English Bible (CEB)
The prophet Micah foresaw a time when God would arbitrate peace and end war (a major cause of homelessness and displacement) and swords would be beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks—weapons of war would be turned into implements of agriculture because war is no longer needed. It is then assumed that in God’s vision, “All will sit underneath their own grapevines, under their own fig trees. There will be no one to terrify them.”
God’s vision is of a society without war and violence, and each having their own place to live, which is fruitful, safe and secure, without fear. This is what inspires and challenges us to make housing and community happen. This vision is not impossible. When Congress passed the Housing Act of 1968, it committed the nation to the goal of producing 2.6 million units of housing a year, including 600,000 annually for low-income families. As a result, in the early 1970s we were close to meeting the need for affordable housing, but since then HUD and other programs for housing have been cut every year, even though the need has increased.
When the Cold War ended (without bloodshed) in the 1990s, the term Peace dividend was used to describe the economic benefit of a decrease in defense spending. During this period many Western nations significantly cut military spending (reducing the nuclear arsenal by over half) and spent more on domestic programs. As result the economy boomed. All this changed after 9/11 when trillions of dollars were spent on a futile “war on terrorism” that has resulted in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression and the greatest refugee crisis since WWII, with a 2017 United Nations Refugee Agency reporting that 65 million people are now uprooted from their homes.
Today approximately half of the US discretionary budget is allocated for military purposes. When a country spends such a high percentage on the military (more than any other nation in history) domestic spending is cut for those most in need, including those in need of affordable housing.
It takes faith to imagine a world as it should be, especially with 53,000 people experiencing homelessness in LA County in 2018, but it was not always so. And other counties have figured out how to solve the housing crisis. This vision of the vine and fig tree gives us hope. We join with Anthony with his work with the Quakers and other groups to end war, and together with amazing volunteers and partners as we seek to end homelessness and the rising cost of housing.
The “vine and fig tree” motif is woven throughout the Bible, reminding us that “shalom” (the Jewish word for peace that includes personal and social well-being) is about justice as well as being in harmony with God’s purpose.
Jill and Anthony, co-founders of MHCH reside in a home with a grape vine next to a fig tree. They are fond of singing a song based on this passage from Micah. See link.
These passages from Scripture are worth meditating and reflecting upon as we seek to do our work for housing justice.
2 Kings 18:31 (CEB); Isaiah 36:16 (CEB); 2 Kings 4:25 (CEB); Zechariah 3:10 (CEB); James 3:11-13 (CEB)
CLICK BELOW to read more about a comprehensive understanding of land use in the Bible that provides access to all to have a place to call home: