IN 1996, I co-founded a tutoring and mentoring ministry for low-income students in partnership with a church in Pasadena, California. My visits to student homes helped me recognize the problem that the high cost of housing posed for children’s long-term success. Without decent, affordable housing in good neighborhoods, multiple families were squeezed into tiny apartments concentrated in one part of town—a situation that could breed gangs, homelessness, crime, and soaring dropout rates. I began to ask myself what the church might be doing to find solutions to this complex issue.
Here are seven viable ways churches and other groups are responding to today’s housing crisis.
1. Financial literacy and foreclosure prevention. With thousands of homeowners losing their houses through foreclosure, one of the biggest priorities is figuring out how to keep folks in their homes. As Alan Mallach, author of A Decent Home, argued this summer in Shelterforce magazine, U.S. housing dollars should focus on helping families to stay in their homes by creating a robust support system to help homeowners with repairs, long-term home improvement planning, good mortgage products, ongoing counseling, and emergency assistance. Mallach also argued for providing more low-income rental units in high-demand cities such as Palo Alto, California, (but not in places like Las Vegas, where vacancy rates are high and rents are low).