When Grace Congregational Church of Harlem was in dire straights with a complex development project.
Donna Schaper and Kate Toth from Bricks & Mortals not only took my call but then assembled the help needed on the legal and political front.
As a Pastor for 15 years I had no one else to turn to for help. So thankfully the knowledge and expertise in handling the survival of places of worship is at Brick and Mortals - I am forever grateful!
New York City has 5,645 properties owned by faith based organizations. These properties and these organizations provide spiritual guidance and support but also education, meals and shelter. Sadly, all too often, economic pressures, building age, changing demographics, and unsupportive policies are forcing the sale of these properties and the loss of these organizations.
Bricks and Mortals is the first and only organization of which I am aware that puts the faith based organization and its real property at the center of its mission and in the driver seat.
By creating a network of members from faith based organizations, the real estate industry and academia, Bricks and Mortals creates an institution and community that shares best practices and lessons learned, creates connections, and shines a light on value of and pressures faced by faith based organizations and their physical spaces in New York City. I have nothing but appreciation for Bricks and Mortals, I just wish we had it 10 years ago!
The Muslim Community Network (MCN) has been engaged with Bricks and Mortals from the very beginning, trying to get Muslim houses of worship to join the meetings, as there are over 200 mosques in New York City.
Many of these mosques have trouble sustaining themselves due to a lack of funding and an inability to understand how to utilize their space.
Bricks and Mortals has been instrumental in providing critical and often esoteric information which is difficult for the diverse Muslim community to understand in how to sustain our houses of worship.
Their expertise in New York City tax laws surrounding houses of worship and guidance as to how to make these houses of worship community-friendly - in order to help sustain their work - is absolutely essential.
We've worked with Bricks and Mortals to facilitate a couple of meetings with Arabic and Urdu translations, and the feedback from the community has been very positive. Bricks and Mortals is providing a service that no one else is doing.
They truly understand that houses of worship are important gathering spaces for the community and Bricks and Mortals is helping save many of these institutions with their team of experts.
In a city where so many vital community services are economically provided by the faith based community and where this community has so much more potential in areas like affordable housing, we need to find creative ways to unlock resources in that community.
Real estate is often the answer. Helping the faith based community to get those decisions right is what B and M is all about.