Through Access Point for Housing (AP4H) and Open Hearth Ministries, Associated Ministries assists households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Each day, these individuals and families tell us their stories, and describe the needs within our communities. More people are at risk of becoming homeless than anyone understood. Affordable housing is increasingly beyond the reach of working families, of people subsisting on fixed incomes, of families living through crisis. The need is beyond the scope of government, beyond the reach of all of the exceptional organizations attempting to meet it. The need is so great that we can only approach it by organizing ourselves as a stronger community, one that insists that anyone trying to live with stability and dignity can live in housing they can afford, and be assisted in gaining the skills that allow that dignity and stability. Associated Ministries is asking you to begin organizing that stronger community now, by finding ways to create more affordable housing and engage in volunteerism to support people in need of that housing.
This is not a new mission for faith communities. In various ways, we have always done this work. For much of our history, rising to address the needs of the poor, building hospitals and educational institutions, providing creative solutions to housing have been the call of people of faith in congregations around the world. And while government remains a welcome and meaningful partner, its role is becoming more modest even as the scope of need grows greater. Congregations and the tapestry of interfaith communion remain as the great reservoir for compassionate, uplifting community.
In affirmation of that historical role, we want to explore your interests in developing an infrastructure of privately funded affordable housing, with the supports that families need to be generationally successful - strong enough that children in these households have the skills and assets and confidence in self-advocacy to not be at risk of homelessness in their adult lives. This will be Community-Based Affordable Housing.
Over the next few months, our Executive Director Rev. Chris Morton, Chief Mission Officer Rev. Heidi Calhoun and Chief Program Officer Greg Claycamp will be reaching out to you. We hope to facilitate this conversation, but not direct it. We want to assist in the creation of the housing and volunteerism that express your passions and compassion, and address the needs you see very locally. We can offer information about community needs, describe options for affordable housing, and help you to connect to others who want to collaborate. There is a real range of possibility, from an individual landlord deciding to make housing available to a challenged family, to partnerships to lease or purchase foreclosed properties. Any size fits.
Before beginning this outreach, allow me to describe one effort in which Associated Ministries is already partnering. We invite the participation of interested landlords and property owners in this effort.
Associated Ministries is currently partnering with MDC (formerly Metropolitan Development Council), Pierce County Housing Authority and Pierce County Community Connections in the Landlord Liaison Project. This project hopes to accomplish two goals. The first is to develop a web-based search engine that any landlord or potential tenant can access, listing all of the affordable housing available throughout Pierce County. The second is to engage landlords in making affordable housing available to families and individuals who encounter common barriers. These barriers include incomes at or below 60% of Average Median Income (AMI); lack of resources for customary move-in costs; eviction histories; and misdemeanor and non-violent felony histories. Potential tenants are required to successfully complete Pierce County Housing Authority’s sixteen hour Ready-To-Rent course, and landlords can access a Pooled Risk Fund that guarantees against costs normally covered by a tenant’s move-in deposit.
All accepted tenants will receive limited Case Management for twelve months through MDC. Landlords recruited through Associated Ministries will receive additional support for their tenants, including the engagement of volunteers to assist families in the strength and asset building necessary to be stable and independent in permanent affordable housing. We encourage interested landlords and potential landlords to contact our Chief Program Officer Greg Claycamp, at (253) 383-3056 x119, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Landlord Liaison Project is a first step, and one option. We look forward to engaging with you in the larger conversation and mission, to build stronger community and families as an expression of compassion, and the passion of our faith.