In the case of Genesis, the $ 2.5 million complex – a joint venture with developers and an organization trying to address California’s historic housing shortage – not only provides the church with another way to serve the community, but it also helps support ministry during a difficult time for urban churches.

For years, cities across the country have been grappling with an affordable housing crisis, exacerbated by the country’s inability to build affordable housing where it is needed most.

While Bishop Matthews is the first to admit that his 12 units are just a drop of water in a very large bucket, it’s also true that churches are uniquely placed to help tackle the affordable housing crisis. Their lands are owned and directly controlled by them, often located in the middle of residential areas – without concern for investors – and can be used to advance a vital part of their faith and mission statement.

A 2020 report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation in Berkeley found approximately 38,800 acres of developable land in California owned by religious institutions, 45% of which are located in the state’s highest resource area (neighborhoods with rates lower poverty and greater economic and educational facilities) and 256 acres located near public transit.

Because not all religious leaders have a background in business management, a constellation of programs has taken shape to help other church leaders do what Matthews has done, teaching them the ins and outs of development timelines, construction and housing regulations.

The Bay Area Chapter of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit community development finance institution, runs a program that invests $ 1 million to train religious leaders, connect them with developers, and provide small grants. to get them started. (Genesis received $ 10,000 in support).

Right now, the first cohort of church groups involved in the Bay Area program has about 300 housing units in the works, in various stages of design and construction.

And other sections of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation are launching programs in other cities, including San Antonio, which has partnered with the city to help local churches build.

Patrick Sisson writes for Reasons to be Cheerful, a nonprofit editorial project that strives to be a tonic for tumultuous times. This story is part of the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit dedicated to rigorous reporting on responses to social issues. It originally appeared here.


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