Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update March 18, 2024

Faith-Based Affordable Housing

Faith-based institutions in D.C. own approximately 450 vacant parcels and could potentially develop 6,000 to 29,000 new homes.

In D.C 17 churches are currently working toward developing affordable housing on their properties. The churches received more than $1 million in grant money and real estate training through the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development. This initiative is set to develop over 1,000 affordable homes across the city. 

Northwood Presbyterian Church in Maryland is considering converting its property into affordable housing due to a shrinking congregation and the nationwide housing crisis. Developers face many challenges building affordable housing, including lengthy approval processes, high costs, and opposition from local communities. Initiatives across several states, such as California, Virginia, and Maryland, are emerging to help streamline the zoning process and support affordable housing development on church land.

The Rev. Chris Deacon delivers a Sunday service at Northwood Presbyterian Church in Silver Spring, Md., on Jan. 21, to a crowd that totaled 19 people. One attended online, he said. (Danny Nguyen/The Washington Post)

In Oildale, California​​ the Kern County Housing Authority redeveloped an abandoned church property into housing for former foster children. Developers were able to preserve elements of the church building and create 19 housing units. The units are open to people ages 18-25 who have aged out of the foster care system and rent is offered on a sliding scale. 

Isabel Medina is both on-site manager and a resident at Project Cornerstone, a housing development for former foster children. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Migrant Crisis Update

Mayor Adams' administration has reached out to faith leaders to help address the migrant crisis by opening their doors to migrants. The Adams’ administration is asking for faith groups to aid in providing daytime respite centers for 150 migrants, in exchange for up to $54,000 a month. The goal is to have 50 overnight shelters and five daytime centers for migrants, aiming to reduce costs compared to emergency contracts currently in place. The city is willing to cover various operating costs for these centers and hopes to lower migrant housing costs by 10%. 

Maspeth Jewish Center in Queens has opened their doors to house migrants, becoming the fifth shelter in a house of worship in NYC. The synagogue began operating as a 15-bed shelter for migrant men on March 7th. The decision was met with backlash from Council Member Robert Holden and some community members who do not approve of the synagogue sheltering migrants. 

Maspeth Synagogue. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

New York mosques are struggling to support the growing number of migrants they are sheltering, especially as the month of Ramadan begins.  Imam Omar Niass, along with several other mosque leaders, is dealing with mounting bills for utilities and meals as they shelter migrants, leading to financial strain on their institutions. Despite hopes that Ramadan's emphasis on charity will increase donations, mosques are still facing challenges in covering their expenses. 

Over 50 faith leaders from NYC traveled to D.C. to call for help with the migrant crisis which has brought hundreds of thousands of migrants to NYC. 

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