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Partnering with Churches to Develop Supportive and Affordable Housing

11.22.2017

Fifty members of the faith community gathered at New Greater Bethel Ministries.


Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch and the panelists at our event on working with mission-driven nonprofits to develop supportive and affordable housing.

Some fifty members of the faith community gathered at New Greater Bethel Ministries (NGBM) in Queens to hear how their churches can work with mission-driven nonprofits to develop supportive and affordable housing. Invited by Dominic Dummett of Signature Building Consultants, hosted by NGBM’s Pastor John Boyd and organized by the Network, the gathering featured presentations by the Network’s Laura Mascuch, HPD’s Theresa Cassano, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)’s Benjamin Dulchin and RiseBoro’s Scott Short.

In his opening remarks, Dominic referenced the context for the day’s conversations – namely that churches, plagued by near daily offers by developers have been making ill-advised deals to sell their properties. By partnering with mission-driven nonprofits to develop affordable and supportive housing, however, faith leaders can both gain assets and further their mission to care for “the least of these.”

Laura kicked off the morning by talking about supportive housing’s deep roots in the faith community, having been invented and promulgated by faith leaders in the early 80s and having, at its core, the intention of helping the most vulnerable among us achieve independence and a life of dignity in the community. She also informed those assembled that between the City’s and State’s commitments to supportive housing, there are significant resources available to develop residences in New York.

HPD’s Theresa Cassano then presented on the numerous programs the City has to encourage the development of supportive and affordable housing. She also walked attendees through the concrete steps faith-based institutions need to take in order to start the process.

ANHD’s Benjamin Dulchin then spoke briefly about the importance of working with organizations that share the same values as faith based organizations hold, ticking off the benefits of churches partnering with community-based nonprofit developers. ANHD recently published a white paper about the fact that buildings developed by nonprofits have a deeper level of affordability than those built by for-profits.

Scott Short, of RiseBoro (formerly Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center) then presented on a number of actual projects that have been developed or are in process of being developed as a result of partnerships with faith-based organizations. In one instance, the church sold its property outright, in another the church was a true Joint Venture partner and in a third the church receives a new worship space and additional rentable commercial space and is providing a long-term ground lease.

A lively well-informed question and answer period followed including questions about the Attorney General’s role in these deals (the AG must approve any transfers of church properties) and how churches can know whether they’re being taken for a ride (“get a good lawyer”)– and what are the different levels of affordability? (ANHD passed out cheat sheets on Area Median Income).

Thank you to everyone who participated and especially to our host, Pastor Boyd and the amazing people at New Greater Bethel Ministries.

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