“What I would say to those in Together West Michigan: If your hope was to ensure that homeownership was a priority and focus, you have succeeded.”
Commissioner Stephen Wooden’s comment was one of many acknowledgements Together West Michigan (TWM) won on August 10 from Kent County commissioners as they voted on the rules for the county’s new Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Fund. Because of TWM’s months of work, the fund includes a goal that 10% of the affordable units be owned by families, rather than rented.
10% Ownership Goal Included In County’s Affordable Housing Fund, Together West Michigan
Kent County to Launch Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Fund with Initial $58M, Crain's Grand Rapids Business [pdf]
TWM Leader Testimony, Kent County Commissioners Court [video from 02:30]
More TWM Testimony, Kent County Commissioners Court [video from 18:00]
Barry Lachman, a Dallas Area Interfaith leader, was involved in the creation of Chapter 27 in 2016. He said that not having enough data for at least five to 10 years can play against good landlords who are following the rules, but ultimately, the most affected by shorter retention periods are tenants.Read more
Reporting bad landlords who won’t fix apartments to maintain adequate living conditions should be easier for Dallas tenants, especially for those who are the most vulnerable because of their economic or immigration status.
It has been a little over a month since this newspaper reported the hazardous conditions endured by Bachman Lake-area tenants, including moldy walls, pest infestations and leaky roofs. This is not a case of “they get what they pay for.” Residents said they are paying up to $1,400 a month, close to the rent average in the Dallas area.
For these tenants, most of them with limited English skills, navigating the city’s bureaucracy to report code violations has been frustrating. They said they rarely see results. “We are not living for free; we are paying,” Bachman Lake resident [and Dallas Area Interfaith leader] Claudia Cruz, 38, told us.
After months of work with leaders in the business, non-profit and education communities, Mountain Voices Project and the Glenwood Community Housing Coalition made a significant step forward in pursuing an investment in local workforce housing.
At the urging of MVP, the Glenwood Springs City Council advanced a ballot proposition for a 2.5% increase in the lodging tax to invest in workforce housing with a 6-1 vote. 15 MVP leaders representing seven member institutions packed the city council chambers during deliberation.
This follows a civic academy at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where residents and stakeholders learned about the potential impact of this initiative. If approved by voters, the Lodging Tax will increase from 2.5% to 5%, and generate new revenue dedicated for workforce housing strategies.
Leaders plan to educate voters about the ballot proposition in advance of the election.
Lodging Tax to Go to Voters in Glenwood Springs This Fall, Post Independent [pdf]
"When COVID-19 came to California, the California organizations of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations, immediately sprang into action. They began organizing virtual meetings at the local level — hundreds of community members gathering every week primarily to share how they were doing....
In the summer of 2021, the California IAF organized an action. Six hundred leaders from over 100 parishes and community-based institutions gathered together virtually to call on the state to extend its eviction moratorium and reform its housing relief program....
The organizing work of the California IAF around housing has revealed two truths that should be held in tension with one another. First, government must do more to address the housing crisis. Public policy and investment are necessary to make housing more affordable.
But, second, government can often be disconnected with how things are working in communities. Effective government depends on the local expertise contained by those who are seeking a decent home. Solving the housing crisis in California hinges on the involvement of our parishes continuously working to ensure that government intervention matches the local needs of our people."
[In Photo: Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of San Jose. Photo Credit: Tyler Osburn, CNS]
When going around to speak with neighbors in the downtown area recently, Pastor Paul Hansen started knocking on doors at a small, six-unit complex that usually rented for less than $1,000 a month.
As a member of Nevadans for the Common Good, a faith-based coalition that organizes around social justice issues including housing affordability, he was hoping to speak with renters about what’s happening in their neighborhood, which included collecting their thoughts about changes at nearby school John S. Park Elementary.
“We asked the first unit if the residence had any school-aged children,” he said. “They told us no they were just short term vacation renters – tourists.”
As it turned out, every unit in the building, as well as the six-unit building next door, was occupied by short-term renters visiting....
At a time where rents are rising to unaffordable rates and housing stock is scarce, Barbara Paulsen, who leads Nevadans for the Common Good, said the volume of short-term rentals is eating into the already limited supply of affordable housing.
“At least 10,000 homes on the market are short term vacation rentals or Airbnb, which might be good for tourists but not long term renters and buyers – our teachers, nurses and hospitality workers and many others,” she said.
Paulsen joined members of the faith coalition Wednesday to speak with Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones about regulating short-term rentals, building affordable housing and increasing protections for renters.
[Photo Credit: Michael Lyle, Nevada Current]
COPA Key Partner in Distribution of $6.75 Million in Rental Assistance to Low-Income Families in Monterey County
COPA (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action) has been a key community partner in distributing $2.75 million of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds in 2021, and will help distribute an additional $4 million in 2022.
Hartnell College Foundation received the ERAP funds from Monterey County United Way in 2021, and partnered with the COPA and Mujeres in Accíon to reach those in greatest need. COPA worked with member congregations to identify families who, due to reduced income due to COVID-19, are struggling to cover rent or utilities. COPA leaders guide them through the application process for emergency rent and utility assistance.
[Photo: Tere Simancas and Luis Arreguín help people fill out housing assistance applications outside Our Lady of Refuge in Castroville, CA. Credit: Adriana Molina, Voices of Monterey Bay]
Coloradans for the Common Good Calls on City & County to Invest Recovery Funds in Housing Preservation & Affordability
Several organizations, including Coloradans for the Common Good, have met with Arvada and Jefferson County leaders for many years to discuss the need to address the affordable housing crisis in the region, they said.
“Our message is that they cannot just rely on the faith communities and nonprofits to solve this problem,” according to a press release from Coloradans for the Common Good. “Government agencies have a role to help ensure that everyone has a safe roof over their heads.”
City of Arvada and Jefferson County leaders recently received more than $120 million in stimulus payments from the federal government, and Coloradans for the Common Good and their allies are asking elected officials to put a substantial sum of the money toward preserving and expanding affordable housing, so that the trend does not continue in the community.
[Photo Credit: Olivia Sun, Colorado Sun]
At Urging of CTI, Travis County & City of Austin Invest $200+ Million into Homelessness Prevention & Support
After years of working to protect the dignity of people experiencing homelessness and preventing low-income families from displacement, Central Texas Interfaith leaders celebrated the investment of $220+ Million in federal funding into homelessness prevention and support.
Over 100 CTI leaders were joined by City of Austin Mayor and Travis County Judge Andy Brown who expressed appreciation for the organization's partnership and doggedness in addressing key regional challenges. Leaders relayed how this effort was connected to a multi-year effort that resulted in passage of an affordable housing bond in 2018, $40 Million in rental assistance during the first year of the pandemic, and now over $217 million in federal dollars into homelessness prevention and support.
Elected officials further committed to identifying sources for additional rental assistance as eviction moratoriums lift.
Homeless Housing Plans, Spectrum News [video]
Interfaith Group Calls for Immediate Action on Homelessness, Austin Monitor [pdf]
Press Conference Footage, Central Texas Interfaith
One LA Leaders Persuade City Planning Commission to Reject Demolition of Affordable Housing Near Temple
One LA leaders from Temple Beth Am played an important role in the Los Angeles Planning Commission's decision to reject a redevelopment project that would have eliminated 12 units of affordable housing in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, a desert for subsidized housing units. The proposed plan would have resulted in the demolition of 6 commercial properties and 12 units of rent stabilized housing to construct a 7-story hotel in their place.
Temple Beth Am leaders from One LA have been working with city officials to mitigate the loss of precious affordable housing. While not opposed to the redevelopment of the area, they expressed concerns about losing housing in a neighborhood where the local city council district office had confirmed that it did not have any housing units that could benefit from the city’s linkage fee program.
Nancy Goldstone, a leader with One LA and resident of Pico-Robertson said,
“This hotel project was going to eliminate affordable housing in an area where there is very little to none.
As a One LA leader it was important for me and our team to organize and have conversations with city officials to let them know that this project did not serve the interests or general good of the neighborhood.”
City Planning Commission Rejects Pico-Robertson Hotel Development, Urbanize Los Angeles