Housing Justice Task Force – Findings

To address the “moral crisis of unaffordable housing” across Southern California, Bishop John Harvey Taylor in 2018-2020 convened a 55-participant diocesan Task Force for Housing Justice, bringing together a diverse representation of developers, bankers, architects, government officals, non-profit representatives, and faith leaders united in achieving solutions for people without housing. The task force’s guiding principles, listed below, informed the final recommendations of leveraging church property to increase affordable housing and parish/mission sustainability.

Come Home.

Believed to be the first denomination-wide effort on this topic of a major faith group in the Southland, the Task Force for Housing Justice began its work of consultation and advocacy with opening comments led by the bishop. 40 members – some representing agencies including the United Way and Habitat for Humanity along with leaders from Episcopal Communities and Services and other developers — attended the opening meeting which led to the formation of working groups dedicated to social enterprise, political advocacy, and “incarnational ministry.”

Under the theme “Come Home,” Bishop Taylor emphasized four focus areas to highlight the areas of “housing first,” social enterprise, political strategy, and ongoing direct services.

— “Southern California is experiencing a vast social crisis brought on by the high cost of housing, which affects every socio-economic cohort from the homeless to retirees who have to move away from their grandchildren. Remembering that we follow a savior who had nowhere to lay his head, we’ve adopted the United Way’s “housing first” mantra as a gospel proposition. We don’t diagnose hungry people before giving them something to eat. According to the same principle, people do better battling addiction, mental illness, and job insecurity if they have a place to live.

— “Using social enterprise tools and partnering with developers and non-profits, we can glorify God and sustain our parishes and missions by providing housing solutions, from winter shelters to affordable senior housing, on our campuses.

— “It’s time to leverage the church’s political clout individually and corporately with city councils, boards of supervisors, and state legislators, calling on them to use our tax dollars to serve all our neighbors in need — including by demanding that government scale back density and height limits that make it hard to build affordable housing and require developers to do more affordable and permanent supportive housing projects.

— “We can’t delegate compassion to government or anyone else. All politics is local; so is homelessness; and so is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Charity might not be enough anymore, but we can’t do without it. We’ll continue to lift up all those around our diocese and region who serve Christ by incarnational service to their neighbors in need.”