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December 2019

Merry Christmas! 

 

Jesus showed up at just the right time and place. He was born in extreme poverty in the most unlikely place for a king to be born, a place unfit for human habitation—like so many of our homeless neighbors.

 

In our housing justice ministry, we are showing up at the right time and place and seeing powerful results. So far, 135 homeless housing units have been approved in the past 12 months and we expect the development of 94 units to be approved in the Civic Center—half for our chronic homeless neighbors and half for low-income families. This is very good news, the gift of a home. 

 

We know what ends homelessness, and it's affordable/supportive housing, but gaining approval for such housing is no easy task. Each week a different church hosts vigils  in order to build support for 94 units in the civic center. As we gather at the Jackie and Mac Robinson statures for prayer, often those experiencing homelessness  join us.  At the end of our vigil we walk to the City Council to speak during public comment. It's powerful for our elected officials to hear what churches are doing to care for our most vulnerable residents and to hear some of our homeless friends tell their story to those who have the power to approve affordable housing.

 

Professionals like Phil Burns (see his story below) have also shown up to give of their valuable time and expertise to other aspects of our work, like the Church Land Committee, Inclusionary zoning and our ADU (Granny Flat) committee. And donors like Connie Milsap have also given their whole heart, mind and soul to this worthy effort. (See her story below.)

 

Our Mission is to equip congregations, community leaders, and neighbors with practical tools needed to do housing justice. We believe God has raised us up at the right time to help mobilize people of faith to realize the power they have by showing up in the right place with the right message to address this urgent need. We are humbled when I think of all that God is doing. This could not happen without your support.

 

Your on-going gifts are what make our work possible. So please continue to support MHCH with your prayers and donations.  At our Nov. 2nd event we raised $5,000 and another $10,000 came in after Giving Tuesday. Our goal by Jan 1st is to raise $25,000, so we're over halfway there! This will help us maintain our present staff, Morgan Duff-Tucker, our Office Assistant; Bert Newton, our Liaison Church Coordinator; and also enable us to hire a grant writer to take our work to the next level.

 


 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Successes:

 

The city approves 66 units of homeless housing at the Salvation Army site!

 

Members of GPAHG (Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group) and our partner organization Everyone In showed up to support the Pasadena City Council when it approved a $1M loan to fund a proposed 66 permanent supportive housing units at the Salvation Army Hope Center on their church land. 

 

"These projects help people to be successful. It’s a great privilege to be standing here,” said Salvation Army Commander Terry Mosambo as the loan for homeless housing was approved. He is shown here with (left to right) Jill Shook, Teresa Eilers (Everyone In), Sonja Berndt, Commander Terry Mosambo, and Miriam Tellez Sorrosa.

 

During the Council meeting Jill Shook acknowledged the sometimes-slow pace of creating such projects and implored the Council to “streamline the process, so that other churches can do this type of project....” The Mayor responded, “Bring the sites to the Council, and we will figure out a way to do it.”

 

GPAHG's new Church Land Committee has identified seven churches in Pasadena interested in building affordable and/or homeless housing on their excess land. To make this happen requires zoning changes, and advocacy. That's one of our goals in 2020! To learn more go to our website or read about Phil Burns, our Affordable Housing Rock Star!

 

See https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/church-land 

 

Candidates Forum on Affordable and Homeless Housing

 

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020,  from 6-8 pm, the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) will host a Candidates Forum at Orange Grove Quaker Meeting, 520 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104.

 

This will be a very significant election, which will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, for the Office of The Mayor and City Council Districts 1, 2, 4, and 6. 

 

 

 Candidates will be asked questions about how they will address the city's housing and homelessness crisis, how they stand on issues such as Accessory Dwelling Units, gentrification, use of the Civic Center for affordable/homeless housing,  upzoning, etc. 

Featured Volunteer: Phil Burns

 

At our “Affordable Housing Rocks!” event on Oct. 26th, we honored Phil Burns, a professional city planner.  Having served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Phil is bilingual in English and Spanish, and he leads children and youth ministry at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.  I met Phil years ago when he joined our team to make it possible to again build granny flats in our back yards—which today, thankfully, are legal anywhere in CA. In fact, you can build one inside your home as well as one detached, or you can convert your garage or build one over your garage. 

 

This year Phil showed up again, at just the right time to serve on a different committee—joining our inclusionary housing team. Using his professional skills as an urban planner, he demonstrated that market rate housing developers would still have a fair return of 10-12% if they set aside 20% of their residential units to be affordable. This research changed the hearts and minds of our City Council members, bringing a unanimous vote! This one policy has produced 577 affordable units embedded in high end housing throughout the city. Now with the increase from 15% to 20% of all new units required to be affordable, many more affordable units will be produced!

 

For Phil, the power of showing up didn’t stop with his involvement with granny flats and inclusionary housing.  With our severe affordable housing crisis, and few available sites for building new affordable units, God was stirring in Phil’s heart as well as mine to start a Church Land Committee, whereby churches with excess land might build affordable housing on their property. Phil has shown superb leadership and today chairs that committee, with seven churches already showing interest. We meet in Phil’s office in Old Pasadena (which by the way his firm planned along with Pasadena’s Civic Center and the Playhouse District). This team is helping churches to determine what is feasible on their land, enabling them to walk down the path of discernment with a goal of finding the right affordable housing development partner based on what they envision.

 

I’m sure you can see why we chose Phil as one of our Affordable Housing Rock Stars to be honored this year! Along with Andre White, a Harvard-trained affordable housing developer, Phil is working pro bono, freely doing professional work with land use, zoning maps, feasibility and more. They both feel a sense of calling, trusting that God will provide. We have submitted a grant with LA county for $200.000 and would like for you to pray with us that this will be funded.

 

Featured Donor: Rev. Connie Milsap

 

Since becoming involved with GPAHG two years ago, Rev Connie Milsap has not only been a generous donor, she has also been active in GPAHG’s housing justice advocacy. Asked what motivates her, she responded that she is guided by Micah 6:8:”What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” She also takes seriously Jesus’s command to “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength” and feels called to respond with “my very being” to those in need.  She has been in ministry with a mission to help the poor and marginalized for many years. While she feels it’s important to respond with mercy to immediate needs, she also recognizes that the justice response is also important and often “harder.”  This “doing justice” work needs to be done by the church. She feels we need to “go up the stream” and find out what causes homelessness and poverty.  When she returned to Pasadena, after living in Dallas, housing was not her agenda, but after meeting with Jill and getting to know GPAHG, she found that advocacy can be a powerful way to address poverty and homelessness.

 

 

 

 

She enjoys seeing issues being addressed with complex and, multi-faceted responses. She has been involved with planning, research, strategizing and bringing others into the work. She finds that working on a team is rewarding. She likes the collaborative process used by GPAHG.  “Engagement of my whole self,” says Connie. “This makes the work satisfying.” Connie has served as a member of GPAHG's Core team and the Inclusionary Team as well as serving as a liaison with the First UMC of Pasadena. She regularly shows up when housing justice items are on the City Council agenda. Connie has helped with the MHCH fundraiser. Connie gives generously with her whole self, for which we are deeply grateful.

Ways You Can Become Involved:

 

  1. One-Day Housing Justice Institutes: if the housing crisis and homelessness has hit your community, we  would  love to work with you to do a One-Day institute with the churches in your community. See this link on what a typical day looks like: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/one-day-institute

  2. Join a Subcommittee: https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/getinvolved

  3. Contribute to Making Housing and Community Happen: 
    https://www.makinghousinghappen.org/donate This will help us end homelessness and also equip other communities to do the same. Please consider monthly contributions. 

 

Thank you so much for reading our newsletter, and for your prayers, partnership and friendship. We would love to hear how you are doing.

 

With Joy,

 

 

Jill Shook

Executive Director of Making Housing and Community Happen.