11 Reasons Why Permanent Supportive Housing
May Work Well for Your Congregation
1) Churches Have A Mandate to Do Justice.
Built into the meaning of a church is the call to do justice and love kindness. Churches are supposed to care particularly for those who have been wronged by the world, or left out.
2) Churches Have Prime Property.
Property is hard to come by in New Jersey. Really nice property, in the middle of a safe, well-lit, desirable town, is particularly hard to come by. Irayna Court was built on prime real estate: on the roof of the Reformed Church of Highland Park.
3) Churches Are Good At Partnerships.
Congregations tend to have a social service ministry or two that is their niche, and then they support many other social services through occasional volunteering or financial contributions. Churches KNOW their limits. A church and its church-based housing board will not get in the way of the professional social service agency running the supportive services element of a church-based housing complex, and will be supportive to the agency in any way possible.
4) Churches Have A Shared Goal, and Diverse Gifts Voluntarily Shared With the Whole. Church-based housing can have relatively slim “soft development costs” because of probably close to $150,000 worth of time and professional skills voluntarily given to the project: legal, computer consultant, interior decorator, fundraiser, communications specialists, therapists, researchers, contractors.
5) Churches Are Compassionate Communities.
Supportive Housing only works in compassionate communities. Local support for new affordable housing of any sort is frequently hard to come by, due to the NIMBY reality. But a church is a YIMBY community. Yes in my backyard! This housing is born from a community of loving, caring people, who want so badly for it to happen that they’ve said, ‘build it at my church!’
6) Churches Are Voluntary Friends.
For youth or other special needs populations who have lived their lives “in the system,” it is particularly important to have positive experiences with people “beyond the system.” Congregations are full of loving people beyond the system.
7) Churches with Housing On Their Property Will Provide Ongoing Support. Sometimes new construction and a ‘new thing’ garner attention that then dissipates when the work is finished. The church can’t “forget about” residents who move in—they are literally right here! There will be endless mentoring and friendship possibilities right here, and links to the wider community and beyond.
8) In terms of local politics, Churches Have Political Clout, if they want it. Churches and communities of faith are the essential institutions (outside of schools) that represent the pulse of a town or borough. A church can sway a zoning board, a planning board and public opinion.
9) Church Facilities Are Exciting Community Centers.
Before even leaving the church campus, residents of Irayna Court live in an exciting place. 27 different programs happen in the building each week, nearing 2000 people. When you live here you feel like you are part of a bustling loving community. Built into the foundation of Irayna Court are opportunities to give and receive love, i.e. you can attend support groups or volunteer in the Thrift Shop.
10) Churches Are Located In Town.
Lots of churches are located in city centers. Highland Park is wonderful because of its people, its diversity, its layout, its lighting, its accessibility, its public transportation, its proximity to institutions of higher education, its downtown. All the things that make a town desirable for anyone else are reasons why it will be desirable for the residents of the supportive affordable housing.
11) Churches have lots of meetings.
For starters, churches meet at least 52 times a year! You’d quit any committee that called you to that many meetings. But instead, these are meetings that fill you up, recharge you, remind you that it’s not all up to you. These are meetings that free you and prepare you to care again, and to care more. You hear God’s word and leave refreshed to respond…maybe to the residents in your own housing complex.