Engaging Faith-Based Organizations to Secure Affordable Housing

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Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the unique conditions that FBOs bring to housing development.
  • Explore innovative solutions to facilitate FBO housing production.
  • Incorporate FBOs as strong members of a multi-nodal housing regime.

Course Details

In 2022, when housing costs rose at their highest rate in 30 years, the housing affordability crisis hit most major urban areas in the United States. Meanwhile, during those three decades, local and state governments' capacity to build and manage their housing stock to improve access to affordable housing virtually vanished. Government housing-supply policy is now heavily reliant on partnerships with third-party developers.

Cities have identified faith-based organizations (FBOs) as stable, trusted, authoritative, and mission-driven institutions that could be excellent partners in housing development. Not only do churches tend to own large amounts of undeveloped land, but many have a strong legacy of providing social services where gaps in government-provided services have emerged.

Four FBOs partnered with a Georgia Tech planning studio during predevelopment phases to explore the unique considerations, challenges, and opportunities of developing affordable housing on their land. This presentation summarizes results and insights from that studio, offering advice to other FBOs and the cities and planners who work with them. Presenters share decision-making processes, leadership, values, relationships, and finances that differentiate FBOs from other actors.