Churches spend lots of money on buildings and real estate.
Many of these same congregations often ask what they can do to help "poor people" in the inner city.
After years of watching churches, I have decided that they will never stop building buildings.
But, what if, churches decided to start building different kinds of buildings? What if the church in America got serious about developing real estate in a different manner?
Some churches already get this and they are doing it and very successfully.
The Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) partnered with the Fort Dupont and Additions Resident Council and the city of Washington, DC to build 147 townhouses on the site of the old Fort Dupont public housing project. Low-income buyers purchased the new homes, priced below market value, almost immediately.
The project was complicated, difficult and took a long time (1999-2005).
Over 97% of the homes were purchased by first-time home-buyers who earn no more than 65% of the area's median income. Twenty of the homes were set aside for families with annual incomes between $15,000 and $20,000.
Thanks to WIN's leadership, a consortium of local religious organizations helped finance the $19 million development with a $3 million, zero-interest, soft loan. Another faith oriented group, The Nehemiah Program, provided gift funds to qualified buyers to help with down payments and closing costs.
The new neighborhood sprang to life almost over night.
The development is called Dupont Commons. What had been a blighted, crime-infested, public housing development is now a livable community complete with a large park next door and a commercial shopping district that includes a DC branch library, a Safeway supermarket and a CVS pharmacy.
WIN plans to build 1,000 for sale homes throughout the District. So, the creative work of building by these churches is just beginning!
The church in America could make a significant difference in depressed and challenged communities. All that is needed is a new vision as to what type of buildings churches ought to be constructing.
Announcement from Duke Memorial UMC
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