Faith-Based Organizations and Affordable Housing

“I have land, how can we use it for affordable housing?”

Resources for Faith-Based Organizations looking to make a difference in their community by building affordable housing, and more!

“Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity”– Pope Francis

We all come to the table with a shared vision of everyone in our communities living with dignity in safe, healthy, and affordable homes. We come to the table with different motivations, resources, and understandings and that is where true partnership in this work can occur. Faith-based organizations and communities have often been pivotal players in social justice movements, providing care to the most vulnerable populations, and working alongside advocates. There is a growing trend across the country of Faith-based entities using their surplus land and other resources for affordable housing.

King County has both faith leaders eager to pursue this work and nonprofit developers excited by the prospect of partnership. Below are resources for understanding the successes of these partnerships, how they work, and how your organization can begin the process of working together to achieve our shared vision. Check out the new legislative tool to encourage affordable housing development on faith community-owned land.


Enterprise Community Partners’ Faith-Based Development Initiative

Works with organizations to provide the equity needed to make this work feasible. More than just providing capital, Enterprise provides training, technical assistance, and more. Learn more here.

“A win-win: Using local church buildings to address the affordable-housing crisis”


Challenges: Education, Understanding, Partnership

“How can religious institutions ease the affordable housing crisis”
What is obstructing more faith-based property development across the country?

Cerbini: The first obstacle is lacking the necessary mission to get the project started. It’s a long-term, complicated and expensive process and organizations can be dissuaded by the task. Some other obstacles are lack of financial resources and perhaps as important, lack of the necessary information and knowledge to go through the development process.

“Developers and Faith-Based Institutions Take on the Affordable Housing Crisis”

“The number one word that comes to mind is respect,” said Richard Andrew Smith, CEO of Temple Builders. He said the number one challenge was repeatedly many developers convey an attitude of, “Give me your land. What do you want? Shut up.” 

He said the second challenge was explaining to faith-based organizations to get proper professional guidance for their projects. This includes qualified, professional legal and accounting assistance and an independent appraisal of their land.


Solutions: Communication, Trainings, Technical Assistance

NHP Foundation’s tips for successful partnership on affordable housing and faith communities:

  1. Identify the mission
  2. Get an independent, accurate valuation of the property
  3. Partner with the most experienced and knowledgeable people
  4. Take advantage of city and state assistance
  5. Learn common pitfalls and how to avoid them
  6. Incorporate all your constituencies in the decision-making process
  7. Reevaluate and collaborate to determine the most realistic and beneficial vision for the property
  8. Communicate!

Local Examples:

Bellwether Housing’s Arbora Courts

Arbora Court serves low-income families in Seattle’s University District. Built on land that was once a church parking lot, University Christian Church generously sold the land to Bellwether at below market value to fulfill their vision and create affordable housing. Now 133 families call Arbora Court Home. Forty apartments are designated for families transitioning out of homelessness. Onsite services, a community room, and playground support residents and foster community. Stable housing at Arbora Court enables residents to focus on health, school, and work. Located near transit, some of Seattle’s top-performing public schools, a world-class public university, and abundant community resources, Arbora Court puts opportunity within reach of its residents.

Compass Housing Alliance’s Compass Broadview

Compass Broadview is a permanent, affordable housing community of Compass Housing Alliance to be located on a parcel purchased from Luther Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church. Compass Broadview aims to provide high quality stable affordable housing to low-income Seattle residents and connect homeless families and disabled households with opportunities to build a safe and prosperous community for us all.


Who are you?

Nonprofit developer of affordable housing looking to partner with faith-based organizations on projects

Faith-based organization looking to learn more and partner in order to build, preserve, advocate for affordable housing

Someone with technical experience willing to lend your knowledge to train and facilitate partnerships

A funder looking to elevate this important work and partner on potential projects

Fill out this survey, so we can get to know you and your desired roles and outcomes, so we can craft convenings, trainings, and matchmaking opportunities.