Affordable Housing Gets a Boost from Faith-Based Organizations

September 23, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On September 23, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "in Los Angeles, workers are busily renovating three ramshackle sites into gleaming new homes. Credit the First African Methodist Episcopal Church for the vision--and the $ 6 million it will take to revamp the sites into 38 new units for AIDS sufferers. In Compton, an abandoned home once disfigured with graffiti now boasts new carpets, shiny tiles and freshly planted hibiscus--and will soon be sold to a low-income family. Credit My Friend's House, a Whittier congregation, for the handiwork. Construction? Contractors? What does any of this have to do with religion? The Rev. Cecil L. Murray of the First AME Church offers a succinct response: 'Word must become flesh,' he said. However the reason is expressed, a growing number of churches, synagogues, mosques and other faith-based organizations are moving into the cause of affordable housing--considered by many to be one of the most acute crises facing their communities. From actual builders, such as First AME, to interfaith advocacy groups in San Francisco and Santa Barbara, religious organizations are mobilizing to proclaim affordable housing a "sacred right" and to urge more government action. And, in a striking alliance between church and state, federal housing authorities are supporting those efforts with new funds, a special liaison to the faith community and conferences with religious leaders around the country. In June, federal housing officials announced that money provided to faith-based organizations would increase 25% to reach $1 billion a year."