In many places, faith communities are at the center of debates around landmarking and preservation. In South Carolina, a Hilton Head church is leading the fight to preserve Talbird Cemetery, a 1.6 acre historic Gullah cemetery. Developers are seeking to build townhomes next to the site which would significantly decrease access for people looking to visit the cemetery. In Chicago, a former church building received preliminary landmark status after neighbors opposed a developer's plan to demolish the building to construct apartments.
Many historic faith properties have energy efficiency issues that should be addressed -- check out New York Disaster Interfaith Services' summer event series to learn more. But an exhibition in Chicago is looking at historic architecture to better understand how to pursue energy efficiency -- some 19th century buildings are more efficient than 21st-century buildings abiding by climate standards.
Houses of worship, especially in non-Christian and immigrant communities, can often be the target of vandalism and violence. This past week, synagogues in San Antonio cancelled gatherings after a credible terroristic threat. In Ronkonkoma, New York, the FBI is investigating an explosion and fire at a mosque -- where a large crescent was set on fire outside -- as a hate crime.
As we see nearly every week in this newsletter, housing inflation is dramatically increasing prices for both renters and homeowners in the majority of the United States. In Manhattan, the average rent now exceeds $5000 for the first time in history; it just crossed the $4000 threshold last month, which was itself record-breaking. Some baby boomers, who had financially been able to live alone in the past, are now seeking roommates. And even when municipalities attempt to regulate housing markets through rent stabilization or other laws, landlords have been trying to find loopholes to raise rents anyways: in St. Paul, landlords are massively increasing utility charges in an attempt to generate more revenues. Rising housing costs are likely to exacerbate the homelessness crisis -- a recent study showed that regions with the highest housing costs also have the highest rates of homelessness.