California has long been considered the “land of opportunity” and certainly with land values having appreciated over 3000% since 1975, there has been a windfall of financial opportunity for property owners and investors — yet there is a significant downside to this story. Across the state are stories of those who have been impacted by the skyrocketing rents and home prices, the shortage of affordable housing, and being perpetually edged out by the highest bidder. Whether it be the challenge for essential workers to find affordable housing close to the communities they serve, or the 700 veterans in San Jose alone who find themselves homeless — private and public leaders are coming together to seek solutions for this growing crisis – and the faith community is stepping up in a big way.
The San Francisco Interfaith Council has convened an Essential Housing Task Force including the city’s key religious leaders and the CEOs of the major faith-based social service agencies, while San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, county Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese and the nonprofit Destination: Home have established a “Housing One Hero” initiative and key to its success is the involvement and engagement of local churches. In both of these scenarios, church leaders consider it part of their moral responsibility to offer both “words and deeds” towards being a proactive part of the short and longer term solution — and are considering myriad of options up to and including designating church-owned property or housing for development, funding or shelter.
These leaders admit that the next step is critical to the initiative’s success — clearly communicating the vision and engaging their broader communities and congregations. But they are also confident that given the clear and compelling need and the positive and lasting impact they are poised to make, the support and participation will be there.