“In pursuit of social justice and financial stability, many urban churches have become advocates for affordable housing by utilizing church property for development, and challenging land use, zoning and housing policy. ”
Across the United States, as congregations continue to struggle with declining attendance, and large underutilized property, the role of the church in property development becomes even more important, particularly as a housing crisis threatens the stock of affordable housing in many urban areas. To understand the reasons behind such initiatives and how they are carried out, this research project focuses on three cities - San Diego, New York, and Chicago – to provide a comparative analysis of the role of churches in affordable housing advocacy. Through a mixed methodology approach that includes GIS mapping, interviews, focus groups, and archival research, this project aims to study how and why churches are using church property to construct affordable housing and the impact on of their advocacy on zoning regulations, land use and housing policy. Interviews will be conducted with church leaders, affordable housing advocates, academics, developers and urban planners to understand the process. In addition to formal research papers that will be presented at conferences, an important product of this research will be the creation of a guide that can be used by church leaders to understand the process of constructing affordable housing, as well as how to advocate for policy change.