Recommended Readings on the Intersection of Housing and Theology

A Decent Home – Planning, Building, and Preserving Affordable Housing by Alan Mallach

How does God see the city? What does Scripture have to say about urban ministry? These are the questions Ray Bakke has systematically addressed, beginning with Genesis and continuing through to Revelation. Here is a biblical theology that will constantly surprise and challenge you as you get a glimpse of how big God’s view of the city really is.

 

A Theology of the Built Environment – Justice, Empowerment, Redemption by T.J. Gorringe
 

Time Gorringe’s is the first book to reflect theologically on the build environment as a whole. Drawing on a wide range of both theological and social-scientific sources. Professor Gorringe explores Christianity in its urban setting, focusing on the use of space, design, architecture and town planning to make a theological critique. After considering the divine grounding of constructed space, he looks at the ownership of land, the issues of housing, town and country and the city, and then considers the built environment in terms of community and art. The book concludes with two chapters that set the whole within the framework of the environmental crisis and asks what directions the Church should be looking for in building for the future. This unique book will challenge not only theologians, ethicists and sociologists of religion but also church teachers and professionals.

The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics by Ched Myers

1. All slaves should be released every seventh (Jubilee) year.
2. All debts should be forgiven every seventh (Jubilee) year.
3. No person should be required to work more than 6 days a week.
4. Possessions such as land, money, food, houses, should be returned to the larger community during the 7th year. 

 

Building a People of Power – Equipping Churches to Transform Their Communities by Robert C. Linthicum

 

Jesus never intended the church to become an institution; he intended it to be a people of power, transforming the world.

Power is the capacity, ability, and the willingness to act. Most people and systems use power to dominate and control, but others have used it relationally to liberate, transform, and even save.

Build around a biblical exploration of shallow, Building a People of Power explains how local churches can use power to transform their communities and their cities. Detailed power strategies are presented enabling churches to build productive relationships, to address the primary issues of people they serve, and to develop strong leaders, faithful organizations, and redeemed neighborhoods that live out shalom.

 

Building the Dream – A Social History of Housing in America by Gwendolyn Wright

This book is concerned essentially with the model of domestic environment in this country, as it has evolved from colonial architecture through current urban projects.

Defensible Space – Crime Prevention Through Urban Design by Oscar Newman

This book is about an alternative, about a means for restructuring the residential environments of our cities so they can again become livable and controlled =, controlled not by police but by a community of people sharing a common terrain… The time has come to go back to first principles, to reexamining human habitat as it has evolved, to become attuned to all the subtle devices invented over time and forgotten in our need and haste to house the many….For urban residential settings, for love and moderate incomes population in particular, defensible space design may be the last stand of the urban man committed to open society.

Density by Design – New Directions in Residential Development by Steven Fader

How can you create residential developments that meet the demands of the marketplace, that provides a high quality of life and sense of neighborhood? How can you build new housing that gains approval in today’s NUMBY environment? How can you build new neighborhoods that counter suburban sprawl and urban decay?

Density by Design provides innovative solutions to these issues and more in 14 case studies of projects that successfully implement the best new ideas in residential community planning. Chosen for a level of design sophistication that goes beyond the norm for production housing, the developments range in density from single family subdivisions all the way to downtown high-rise apartments. Projects illustrate many up-to-the-minute concepts: new income and mixed-housing types, urban infill, and adaptive use.

Especially useful for architect, planners, builders, and developers, the case studies reveal trends and standards for developing projects that provide a sense of place, that use land efficiently without compromising livability, and that can pass the twin tests of governmental approvals and marketability.

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith

Through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people and an additional 200 face-to-face interviews, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith probed the grassroots of white evangelical America. They found that despite recent efforts by the movement's leaders to address the problem of racial discrimination, evangelicals themselves seem to be preserving America's racial chasm. In fact, most white evangelicals see no systematic discrimination against blacks. But the authors contend that it is not active racism that prevents evangelicals from recognizing ongoing problems in American society. Instead, it is the evangelical movement's emphasis on individualism, free will, and personal relationships that makes invisible the pervasive injustice that perpetuates racial inequality. Most racial problems, the subjects told the authors, can be solved by the repentance and conversion of the sinful individuals at fault.


Combining a substantial body of evidence with sophisticated analysis and interpretation, the authors throw sharp light on the oldest American dilemma. In the end, they conclude that despite the best intentions of evangelical leaders and some positive trends, real racial reconciliation remains far over the horizon.

 

Evicted – Poverty and Profit in The American City by Matthew Desmond

In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

From Oppression to Jubilee Justice by Lowell Noble
 

Without an understanding of the horror of oppression, it is difficult, if not impossible, to act wisely and passionately to incarnate Jubilee justice in one’s community. There is little in evangelical theology and preaching on oppression, even though oppression is a major biblical concept (more than 125 Scriptural references). To address this serious omission, this book is built upon four crucial concepts found in Luke 4:18-19 – the Spirit, the poor, the oppressed and Jubilee justice – and proposes that the package of the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God and justice is the biblical way to release people from poverty and oppression.

Lowell Noble was professor of sociology and anthropology at Spring Arbor University for 25 years. Since 1994, he has been serving as a volunteer at the John Perkins Foundation (www.jmfp.org) in Jackson, Mississippi. His passion in retirement is to create a theology of society to undergird Christian Community Development.

How to Kill a City – Gentrification, Inequality, and The Fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz

 

The term gentrification has become a buzzword to describe the changes in urban neighborhoods across the country, but we don’t realize just how threatening it is. It means more than the arrival of trendy shops, much-maligned hipsters, and expensive lattes. The very future of American cities as vibrant, equitable spaces hangs in the balance.

Peter Moskowitz’s How to Kill a City takes readers from the kitchen tables of hurting families who can no longer afford heir homes to the corporate boardrooms and pollical backrooms where destructive hosing policies are devised. Along the way, Moskowitz uncovers the massive, systematic forces behind gentrification in New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York. The deceptively simple question of who can and cannot afford to pay rent goes to the heart of America’s crisis of race and inequality. In the fight for economic opportunity and racial injustice, nothing could be more important than housing.

A vigorous, hard-hitting expose, How to Kill a Coty reveals, who holds power in our cities – and how we can get it back.

 

Justicia Y Vivienda: Una Perspectiva Biblica, Authora y Editora: Jill Suzanne Shook
 

La Dra. Jill Shook, autora y editora de este libro bilingüe, es conocida a nivel nacional como defensora de vivienda con justicia social. Este libro presenta una teología sólida, clara y práctica que busca inspirar al pueblo de Dios a que participe en el proceso de obtener vivienda al alcance para sus comunidades. Compartiendo su propia experiencia de cómo ayudó a llevar a cabo cientos de unidades económicas en su ciudad, Shook ofrece muchos modelos distintos de cómo las iglesias en todos los Estados Unidos han proporcionado a la mismo. Autora del libro "Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Models" (revisado en 2012), Shook presenta talleres en las conferencias nacionales de la Asociación del Desarrollo Cristiano de la Comunidad y por otras organizaciones. Es profesora y sus artículos han aparecido en Sojourners y otras revistas. Ed Mahoney, Bert Newton, y Lowell Noble también han colaborado en escribir este libro.

 

 

Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Models, 2nd edition by Jill Suzanne Shook (Editor)

 

The growing hosing 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 spend 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 Washington 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, cohousing, 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.

 

Making Room – Housing for a Changing America by AARP

 

Just as the housing needs of individuals change over a lifetime unprecedented shifts in both demographics and lifestyle have fundamentally transformed our nation’s housing requirements.

Filled with infographics, ideas, solutions, photographs and floor plans from the National Building Museum exhibition of the same name, Making Room: Housing for a Changing America is a rallying cry for a wider menu of housing options.

Like the exhibition, which was curated with the Citizens Housing & Planning Council and funded in part by AARP Foundation, the publication introduces readers — be they residential builders or designers, community leaders or the general public — to a future that can feature a menu of housing options that better serve people of all ages and the needs of a changing America. 

Organized into four parts, Making Room begins with a look at the nation's changing demographics and household types, followed by a collection of more than three-dozen housing solutions and then a "tour" of The Open House, an interactive, furnished demonstration home that was created for the exhibition (by Clei with Resource Furniture) and could seamlessly accommodate three entirely different household living arrangements.

To order a free paperback copy: 

Email Fulfillment@AARP.org with the subject line: Making Room

In the email body, include: 

  • Your Name

  • Street Address

  • Town/City, State, Zip Code

  • Publication number: D20459

 

Ownership: Early Christian Teaching by Charles Avila
 

Charles Avila studied theology and earned his master's in Social Philosophy at the Divine Word Seminary in the Philippines. He has written many essays and a number of books on philosophy, political economy, and sociological problems. His 'Peasant Theology' has been translated into eight languages. For more than ten years he was an organizer of peasant unions, producers' co-ops, community organizations, and industrial unions. He was President of the Kamayan Party, a pre-martial law democratic socialist party in the Philippines, and Vice President of the Federation of Free Farmers. Avila has also served as a writer for 'Philippine News' a San Francisco-based weekly, and for 'South' a Third World-oriented monthly magazine based in London.

 

Roots for Radicals – Organizing for Power, Action, and Justice by Edward T. Chambers
 

Roots for Radicals is a distillation of the IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation) philosophy and its unique approach to community organizing. It’s also the pungent, feisty memoir of one of America’s most successful and colorful organizers.

 

Sidewalks in the Kingdom – New Urbanism and the Christian Faith – The Christian Practice of Everyday Life Series by Eric O. Jacobsen

 

Sidewalks in the Kingdom is a part of The Christian Practice of Everyday Life Series, dedicated to theological consideration of the concerns of everyday life.

Streets of Hope – The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood by Peter Medoff and Holly Skylar

 

Using the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston's most impoverished neighborhood as a case study, the authors show how effective organizing reinforces neighborhood leadership, encourages grassroots power and leads to successful public-private partnerships and comprehensive community development. - Prof. Norman Krumholz

The Land – Place a Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith, Second Edition by Walter Brueggemann
 

The land was one of the most vibrant symbols for the people of ancient Israel. In the land – gift, promise, and challenge – was found the physical source of Israel’s fertility and life, and a place for the gathering of the hopes of the covenant people. In this careful treatment, Walter Brueggermann follows the development of his there through the major blocks of Israel’s traditions. The book provides a point of entrance both to the theology of the Old Testament and to aspects of the New Testament – even as it illuminates crucial issues of the contemporary scene. Recurring problems with border conflicts, soil and water pollution, and homelessness prompt the author’s reflections on the relation between the biblical traditions and contemporary dilemmas.

In this fully revised edition of a classic work, Brueggemann provides new insights in an additional chapter, as well as updating the discussion, notes, and bibliography.

The Promised Land – The Great Black Migration and How it Changed America by Nicholas Lemann

Between 1940 and 1970 five million African-Americans left the rural South for the promised land of the urban North in the greatest mass migration in our Country’s history. This extraordinary book gives that movement faces and voices. With the passion and human observation of a great novelist, Nicholas Lemann tells the stories of the men and women who escaped sharecroppers’ shacks for the dubious shelter of ghetto housing projects and fled one kind of poverty only to encounter another just as bleak. With the same diligence, he traces the ideals, ambitions, and infighting of the politicians and bureaucrats who tried to channel the black migration toward their own ends. Rich in insight and indignation, uncanny in its empathy, The Promised Land is a major work of social history.

The Theology of the Hammer by Millard Fuller
 

By the age of thirty, Millard Fuller had come face-to-face with the reality of the American dream --he was a millionaire workaholic with a marriage on the skids. The cure was a radical one. The Fullers sold their business, donated all but a few thousand dollars to charity, and went in search of a new dream. Twenty years later, Fuller and his wife Linda are sharing that dream: Habitat for Humanity International. This exciting release continues the story of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that helps us make shelter a matter of conscience. Founder Millard Fuller describes the applied theology that directs and energizes this organization’s efforts.

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