Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update July 14, 2023

Spotlight: Urban Omnibus Interview with Bricks and Mortals Executive Director

Bricks and Mortals Executive Director Kate Toth sat down with Urban Omnibus to talk about the challenges the faith community is facing and how organizations like Bricks and Mortals and platforms like Venuely are providing solutions. 

New York City's religious institutions, encompassing churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and more, own a significant amount of real estate, totaling over 70 million square feet. While these houses of worship play a vital role in the community, providing social services and support, many are facing challenges. In many neighborhoods, faith institutions are amongst the most trusted and competent social service providers. 

Faith institutions provide valuable support to their communities, but they are facing significant challenges. From real estate developers offering to purchase their buildings which results in demolitions, to aging congregations causing membership to go down, and gentrification displacing working-class families, to growing congregations struggling to find affordable worship space – houses of faith are familiar with a multitude of these challenges. Bricks and Mortals exists as a support network, consisting of faith leaders and real estate professionals, dedicated to assisting faith communities in navigating building code violations and developing affordable housing solutions. 

Read the article for the full interview. 

St. Paul and St. Andrew, a United Methodist church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is home to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, which distributed 4.2 million pounds of food throughout New York City in their 2022 fiscal year. Photo by Jade Doskow

Striving for Solutions in the Faith Community

Faith-based organizations in NYC and beyond are constantly working to support their communities and produce new solutions. 

The Met Council is expanding its reach to the federal government to increase the availability of kosher and halal foods in food pantries nationwide. Currently, out of the 200 food products provided by the federal government to food pantries, only eight are kosher or halal. The Met Council's study revealed that during the pandemic, 20% of food requests in New York City alone were for kosher or halal products. 

Many congregations are overwhelmed with surplus space, and are open to sharing space with other community minded and oriented groups, but often do not have a system or staffing in place to do so. Bricks and Mortals and Partners for Sacred Places launched Venuely to combat this issue in NYC (as well as NJ and Indiana!). Through Venuely, houses of faith can earn funds simply by sharing their congregation's extra space during downtime. By hosting with Venuely, congregations are playing a huge role in helping organizations support communities and help people in need. Venuely will help congregations to not only survive through the post-pandemic world but to help them to thrive, enhancing their mission, by serving their community. 

Houghton Hall Arts Community is owned by the Church of the Transfiguration, also known as “The Little Church Around the Corne.” The Church ”has been associated with the theater community since the 1860s. Through Houghton Hall, the Church of the Transfiguration is able to continue supporting the artists and arts groups who are the heart of our city. Photo by John Osborn Photography

Looking to preserve your space through a variety of creative strategies?