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How Churches are Helping Abate Housing Crisis in the US

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By Oscar Blair - - 5 Mins Read

The US housing crisis is an issue that is often not highlighted by the government and news outlets. A case study is the Arlington Presbyterian Church, which noticed that most of its members were reduced due to unknown reasons.

First, the church started seeing a drop in donations, and how the number of people attending the Sunday services declined from hundreds to a few dozen. So the church leaders began trying to change the landscape of things happening in the church. Then they started by asking other church members what was happening, and that was how they got to know the plight of their church members. Almost all the church members who stopped coming to the church had a general problem. They were all having housing deficit issues and increased financial difficulties. 

According to Rev. Ashley Goff, pastor since 2018, the stories told to the church leaders broke their hearts, and they wanted to do something significant about the situation.

"Those stories broke their hearts. They really felt this call by God to do something very dramatic about the lack of affordable housing," Rev. Ashley Goff said.

Headshot Ashley Goff, the pastor at Arlington Presbyterian Church
Rev. Ashley Goff, pastor at Arlington Presbyterian Church (Ashley-goff.com)

After several discussions about the situation, the church leaders decided to use the most significant asset they had in their possession for the church's good. They used their real estate possession to build affordable housing for their members. After selling their real estate to Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, a nonprofit developer, for $8.5 million, the church was finally set to start building more affordable housing.

The standing church properties were brought down, and a complex and sizeable 6-story building was raised on the existing site. This six-story building had about 173 apartments for stranded and unhoused citizens. These apartments are offered to those earning 60% or less of the area's median income. 

More Christian Groups Helping to Reduce US Housing Crisis 

According to reports from Seattle Times, more Christian groups are using their property to build for the good of the church. They would use their real estate properties to build enormous complexes for their congregation that cannot afford housing costs in the United States. While this is helping the Christian faith achieve its objectives of assisting its congregation, it also increases its social reach. 

Nonprofits and foundations have stepped in to help by providing these church groups with all the needed support and resources to develop their real estate for their congregation. Enterprise Community Partners, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and other groups provide religious leaders with the funds and legal resources needed to carry on with their mission.

"Even if just 10% of the faith-owned land got activated tomorrow for affordable housing, we're talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of units around the country," Rev. David Bowers, an Enterprise vice president and leader of Faith-Based Development Initiative, said. 

Rev. David Bowers also said they are trying other leaders in other faiths involved. He said when they succeed with this, it will help significantly reduce the housing deficits experienced in the United States. "Part of our work is to get more faith communities from all kinds of walks involved. When you have declining memberships, and you see your building space very underutilized, it becomes pretty stark," Bowers said.