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Motion to construct reasonably priced housing on church land reaches Florida

(RNS) — As Miami-Dade County in Florida grapples with a housing affordability disaster, homes of worship are being recruited to construct reasonably priced properties on vacant or underutilized church land.

The nationwide nonprofit Enterprise Neighborhood Companions on Thursday (April 21) introduced $1.3 million in grant funding from the Wells Fargo Basis that may go towards serving to 15 South Florida congregations convert underused church property. 

The nonprofit will help clergy, who could lack the sources or data to chop housing offers, in navigating the event course of, negotiating long-term floor lease agreements and vetting improvement companions, equivalent to architects and designers. 

This effort is a part of the nonprofit’s Religion-Primarily based Growth Initiative that launched in 2006 within the Mid-Atlantic area, the place it has helped faith-based organizations create or protect greater than 1,500 reasonably priced properties and one community-based well being clinic.


RELATED: Houses of faith are building affordable housing on their properties


To this point, $8.5 million has been dedicated in a brand new push to assist congregations in Atlanta, New York, Baltimore, Miami and Seattle construct reasonably priced housing on their properties.

In South Florida, this cash is being made out there simply as Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in early April declared a state of emergency over housing affordability.

Religion leaders, together with county and housing officers, on Thursday (April 21) gathered at Koinonia Worship Center to speak in regards to the steps congregations may take to construct housing on their church land. The gathering was held in partnership with the Collective Empowerment Group of South Florida, a gaggle of native church buildings that goals to offer homebuyer coaching and credit score counseling providers within the space.

David Bowers, vp at Enterprise Neighborhood Companions, stated this effort makes “radical widespread sense,” permitting congregations which might be “sitting on a useful resource” to “be good and devoted stewards.”

“We’ll share classes from you with others in cities across the nation who’re at work as we increase this motion,” Bowers, who can be an ordained minister, stated Thursday.


RELATED: In Southern California, Black churches are using their land to build housing for homeless people


Over the previous few years the county has partnered with faith-based organizations to construct seven reasonably priced rental developments, stated Jorge Damian de la Paz, a consultant of the mayor, on the Thursday gathering. These tasks stretch throughout Miami-Dade County, from Miami Gardens right down to Richmond Heights. 

Citing property information, de la Paz stated there are greater than 1,220 parcels in Miami-Dade County at the moment getting used completely for spiritual functions. This contains church buildings, synagogues and mosques. In complete, homes of worship sit on a minimum of 95 million sq. ft of land in Miami-Dade County, he stated.   

“Spiritual organizations, in combination, are among the largest homeowners of land in Miami-Dade County,” de la Paz stated.

“A few of these tons may doubtlessly be used to construct reasonably priced housing or … some sort of neighborhood facility to serve congregants in a brand new approach and generate extra income to the group,” he stated.

One instance is Second Baptist Church of Richmond Heights. In 2016, the church opened the Reverend John & Anita Ferguson Residence Apartments, which supplies 79 models of reasonably priced housing for seniors. 

The Rev. Alphonso Jackson, pastor of Second Baptist Church, helped oversee the challenge, which was a imaginative and prescient of the previous pastor, the Rev. John Ferguson, who secured the land adjoining to the church.

“It was our need to finish the imaginative and prescient he had,” Jackson stated on Thursday.

Jackson stated they sought to safe the mandatory funds to construct the challenge in a approach that “wouldn’t be a burden to the church.” They fashioned a neighborhood improvement company and handled housing bonds, tax credit and grant funding. 

Though it was years within the making, “it ended up being a beautiful challenge,” Jackson stated.

“It provides to the neighborhood. It elevated the property worth of the neighborhood. It isn’t an eye fixed sore. It’s one thing very good … We’re very happy with it,” he stated. 

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