Is your faith community interested in affordable housing in your community? Faith communities are perfectly poised to take on this work!
Faith Communities Have A Mandate to Do Justice.
Built into the meaning of most faiths is the call to do justice and love kindness. Faith communities care about helping others, particularly those who have been wronged by the world or left out.
Faith Communities Have Prime Property.
Property is hard to come by in New Jersey. Really nice property, in the middle of a safe, well-lit, desirable town, is particularly hard to come by. Irayna Court was built on prime real estate: on the roof of the Reformed Church of Highland Park. Many faith communities already have access to property or air-rights over property, and can be creative with its use.
Faith Communities Are Good At Partnerships.
Many faith communities already engage in social service outreach, and offer support to other agencies through volunteering or financial contributions. Partnerships with the community and other agencies can be built upon to undertake new initiatives.
Faith Communities Have a Wealth of Skills that Can Benefit Projects. Faith community-based housing can have relatively low “soft development costs” due to gifts of time and professional skills that may be voluntarily given or given at a reduced rate to the project from the community, including: legal assistance, web and technology expertise, interior design, fundraising, communications, mental health professionals, researchers, contractors, and more.
Faith Communities Are Compassionate Communities.
Supportive Housing only works in compassionate communities. Local support for new affordable housing of any sort is frequently hard to come by. “Not in my backyard!” is a too-frequent refrain, but a faith community says, “Yes, in my backyard!” Faith community housing is born from a community of loving, caring people, who want so badly for it to happen that they’ve said, “Build it at my church/synagogue/mosque!”
Faith Communities Are Voluntary Friends.
For youth or other special needs populations who have lived their lives “in the system,” it is particularly important to have positive experiences with people “beyond the system.” Congregations are full of loving people beyond the system.
Churches with Housing On Their Property Will Provide Ongoing Support. Sometimes new construction and a ‘new thing’ garner attention that then dissipates when the work is finished. A faith community can’t “forget about” residents who move in—they are literally right here! There will be endless mentoring and friendship possibilities, including links to the wider community and beyond.
Faith Communities Have Local Political Clout, if they want it. Communities of faith are the essential institutions (outside of schools) that represent the pulse of a town or borough. A faith community can sway a zoning board, a planning board, and public opinion.
Faith Community Facilities Can Be Exciting Community Centers.
For example, residents of Irayna Court live in an exciting place. 40 different programs happen in the RCHP building each week, serving 3500 people. To live here feels like being part of a bustling, loving community. Built into the foundation of Irayna Court are opportunities to give and receive love, including attending support groups, volunteering with various groups, and joining social activities.
Faith Communities Are Located In Town.
Many faith communities are located in city centers. All the things that make a town desirable for anyone else are reasons why it would be desirable for the residents of supportive affordable housing.
Faith Communities Have Lots of Meetings.
Faith communities meet at least 52 times a year! You’d quit any committee that called you to that many meetings. But instead, these are meetings that fill you up, recharge you, remind you that it’s not all up to you. These are meetings that free you and prepare you to care again, and to care more. You hear God’s word and leave refreshed to respond…maybe to the residents in your own housing complex.