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LA Voice Guides Faith Communities to Create 2,298 Affordable Housing Units


[The following mid-year update was written by the organization and then sent to us for further sharing.]

To help reduce homelessness and address the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles County, LA Voice’s Faith in Housing program has been guiding dozens of faith communities through the process of building affordable housing on church-owned property. Support from LA2050 and the Goldhirsh Foundation has enabled us to assist congregations step-by-step from start to finish, guiding them through vision and discernment discussions, feasibility studies, site plans, and the developer selection process.

We are pleased to share that the Faith in Housing program is currently working with 28 congregations that have an estimated housing yield of 2,298 units—an increase of 24% since submitting our LA2050 proposal. Recently one congregation, East Whittier United Methodist Church, successfully moved to the stage of issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for prospective developers.

Over the years, many faith communities pursuing development faced restrictive zoning ordinances, and experienced lengthy rezoning delays or had to abandon their projects. To help address these barriers at a systemic level, LA Voice has been organizing to educate city, county, and state leaders about the benefits of establishing a religious land overlay zone. After much effort in coalition with partners, LA Voice is thrilled to share that SB 4, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, went into effect in October 2023—eliminating the need for site-by-site zoning and significantly expanding the number of eligible congregations.

Since that time, LA Voice has received several invitations to share information about the Faith in Housing program, such as:

  • Los Angeles Faith Institutions Affordable Housing Summit—hosted by Mayor Karen Bass and The California Endowment—with about 150 attendees;
  • The Presbytery of the Pacific’s denominational meeting, where we presented to the leadership of more than 50 churches;
  • Inglewood First United Methodist Church’s Affordable Housing site tour with representatives from the City of Los Angeles, Century Housing, and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Affordable Housing Development Loan Fund; and
  • Housing California’s 45th Annual Convention, where we delivered a workshop for over 100 registrants.

Increased attention for the Faith in Housing program means that even more congregations will be interested in exploring their options for building affordable housing—and that LA Voice can re-open conversations with more than 35 churches that were situated in places with unfavorable zoning but that are now eligible to build housing on their property thanks to the passage of SB 4.

Faith in Housing also received media coverage from several Los Angeles County news outlets, including:

To streamline the path to affordable housing for curious faith communities, Faith in Housing staff guided 10 congregations through the beginning of their journey through an educational cohort last fall. Held twice per year, interested congregations participate in a four-session, interactive curriculum, receiving information about the design, financing, and construction process, while networking and addressing concerns.

We also made progress to expand the reach of this work beyond Los Angeles County through an apprenticeship program that features monthly virtual sessions as well as in-person tours of demonstration sites. Recent participants have included representation from Oakland, CA; Denver, CO; Eugene, OR; Houston, TX; and Spokane, WA. We are also working to replicate a technical team to provide additional capacity in guiding new faith communities through this process.

We are grateful to LA2050 and the Goldhirsh Foundation for their support and look forward to sharing more about Faith in Housing’s growth as we make progress toward our goal of providing a dignified home to every resident of Los Angeles County.

AuthorLA Voice