Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jill's book on faith-based affordable housing is finished!

After six months, Jill and I have finally finished revising Jill's amazing book on faith-based affordable housing models, and the manuscript has been sent to the printer. Alleluia!

This book was originally published in 2006 and features articles by a wide range of authors--mostly religious leaders and pastors--who have helped create affordable housing for thousands of low-income people. This is a story of Christianity-in-action that deserves to be more widely known. See

The book is especially relevant and important today when a clueless Congress is slashing budgets for affordable housing despite increasing need. Because of deregulation that led to the foreclosure crisis and the housing bubble, millions of people are losing their homes, rents are skyrocketing, and homelessness is on the rise. Yet politicians are not even discussing, much less addressing, this growing problem!

The good news is we know that faith-based affordable housing works. In researching the revision of this book, we learned that the foreclosure rate for those in faith-based housing was less than one percent--far below the national average. This fact explodes the myth that low-income home buyers were at fault for taking out loans they couldn't afford. The real culprits were big predatory banks who didn't bother to screen applicants and give them good financial counseling. When churches followed old-fashioned, responsible banking practices, first-time home buyers did not lose their homes or their equity.

Major policy changes  are needed, as this book makes clear in a chapter called "Hopeful Trends and Calls for Change."

I am excited that this book is coming out this year and will help churches and faith-based groups to "make housing happen" for those in need. I hope our elected officials will also get the message.

I am proud to be married to a woman who cares passionately about housing justice and is making a difference here in Pasadena and around the country with this important book.

One last concern: we are thinking of changing the subtitle of this book because we have learned that "housing" has negative connotations and conjures up images of failed public housing projects. (Successful affordable housing tends to be mixed income and smaller scale; concentrating poverty in huge projects doesn't work.) Housing advocates are now using the word "homes" instead of "housing" and we would like to incorporate that word into the subtitle. Currently the subtitle is "Faith Based Affordable Housing Models."

These are up for consideration for a possible new subtitle:
  • Faith-Based models of affordable homes.
  • Models of Faith-Based Homes for all Income Levels.
Which do you prefer?

Abstract for  "Making Housing Happen":

The growing housing crisis cries out for solutions that work. As many as 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, half of them women and children. One in four renters spend more than half their income on rent and utilities (more than 30 percent is considered unaffordable). With record foreclosures and 28 percent of homes “underwater,” middle‑ and low-income homeowners are suffering.

Many congregations want to address this daunting problem, yet feel powerless and uncertain about what to do. The good news is that churches are effectively addressing the housing crisis from Washington state to New York City—where an alliance of 60 churches has built 5,000 homes for low-income homeowners, with virtually no government funding or foreclosures.

This book offers workable solutions with true stories by those who have made housing happen. Each story features a different denomination, geographic area, and model: adaptive reuse, co-housing, cooperative housing, mixed- income, mixed-use, inclusionary zoning, second-units, community land trusts, sweat-equity and more. It also offers powerful theological thinking about housing.
Making Housing Happen is about vision and faith, relationships and persistence. Its remarkable stories, such as turning a prison into affordable housing, will inspire and challenge you to action.

Jill's bio:

Dr. Jill Shook, author and "catalyst," works with churches and community leaders to bring about housing justice. She earned degrees from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (BA), Denver Seminary (MA) and Bakke Graduate School (D. Min. in Transformational Leadership), led work teams from Berkeley to Harvard for Food for the Hungry to developing countries, started a church-based tutoring program, taught at Azusa Pacific and Bakke Graduate School, published articles (Sojourners) and gives workshops locally and nationally.

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