Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update January 29, 2024

Houses of Worship and Affordable Housing 

In a recent interview with Urban Omnibus (which profiled Bricks and Mortals back in July), Rachel Ehrlich from Dattner Architects talked about the difficulty of designing and building new affordable housing in New York City, but also how new buildings can address the intersecting housing and climate crises. Rachel and her colleagues work to design high-performance, high-efficiency housing and bridge architecture with climate advocacy. 

Across the country, houses of worship and faith-based organizations are using their land to develop affordable housing. Many of these organizations are redeveloping unused or abandoned facilities to try to address the housing crisis while also fulfilling their mission to do good in their communities. The United States faces a shortage of 2.3 million to 6.5 million homes, with some estimates putting the need at up to 7.3 million. Faith-based organizations are in the unique position as potential contributors to addressing this shortage.

In Asheville, NC the Cappadocia Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas was set for demolition but is now becoming affordable housing. The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe is working to preserve the historic Black church by converting it into three apartments. 

Calvary Lutheran, an aging church in Minneapolis, MN, has been transformed into 41 affordable housing units. This project will also include a newly renovated worship space for the church’s congregation. 

The renovated former Calvary Lutheran Church building in south Minneapolis was converted to 41 affordable housing units in a partnership with Trellis, pictured here on Thursday. Photo by Ben Hovland 

Faith-Owned Real Estate

Demolition of the former Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jewish congregants were killed during a Shabbat service in October 2018, has begun. The congregation plans to rebuild the building and create a memorial. When complete, it will be the nation’s first museum that focuses on antisemitism in the United States. The new building will include a sanctuary in the center, and also hold a museum, center for education, and memorial for the victims. 

Plans for new Tree of Life building. Photo from Remember Rebuild Renew 

Hundreds in Yonkers, NY rallied to save St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception on South Broadway – a 175-year-old church. According to the Archdiocese of New York the building required $10 million in repairs, however parishioners and community members question the number. Among its initiatives, the church holds weekly services in English, Arabic, and Spanish.

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