What Is Faith In Housing?

The lack of affordable housing is a crisis in many American cities, leading to homelessness and fragile housing situations.  Government resources are inadequate to solve the problem alone, especially when public policy does not lead for-profit developers to contribute to solutions.

Congregations across all faiths are accustomed to helping the homeless with their immediate needs of food and shelter, but after thousands of volunteer hours and decades of collecting donated items, some are choosing to also live their faith by using congregational resources to create affordable housing.

Faith In Housing began as a workshop sponsored by the Stan Greenspon Center to showcase six Charlotte congregations that are creating affordable housing.  What was envisioned as a small gathering turned into an event attended by over 130 clergy and congregants in November 2018.  The event highlights reel has been viewed more than one thousand times. 

Starting in 2019, this blog site will share examples of congregations based on the workshop.  Read the opening blog post here.  Future blog posts will include three congregations creating on-site housing (leasing land, leasing housing, repurposing education or worship buildings) and three off-site initiatives (supporting agencies, subsidizing rent, lending at below-market rates). 

How can your congregation create affordable housing?

Consider your resources – some, sizable, or signature funding – and whether you have on-site capacity or not:

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Share with us what your congregation is doing by joining the discussion sponsored by the Stan Greenspon Center.

The Basic Math of Affordable Housing

· Housing is affordable when it costs no more than 30% of your monthly income.

· Income levels are often expressed as a percentage of Area Median Income (AMI), which is adjusted for local housing costs and household size. In Charlotte, AMI for a family of three is $66,700, so half the families earn more than this and half earn less.  Affordable housing for a family at AMI (often referred to as 100% AMI) would cost no more than $1,670/month.

· At $15/hour, a single parent with two children in Charlotte earns under 50% AMI.  Affordable housing for this family would cost no more than $680/month.

· At minimum wage ($7.25/hour) this family earns about 20% AMI, and $330/month constitutes affordable housing.

For definitions of other terms in the affordable housing sector, check out our Resources page.


About The Voices of Faith in Housing

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Judy Seldin-Cohen is a volunteer organizer on housing issues at the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte, and she serves as the board chair for A Way Home, a $20 million public-private housing endowment.   She is also the co-author of the recently published book Recharging Judaism: How Civic Engagement Is Good for Synagogues, Jews, & America.

Seldin-Cohen moderated both the original and the second Faith in Housing workshops. She edits and contributes to the Faith In Housing blog series. You can find her at judyseldincohen.com



The Reverend Matt Holcombe is Associate Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he provides clergy support for spiritual growth and adult formation. He is committed to visioning, designing, and facilitating unique learning opportunities to equip and empower people to grow spiritually through relationships with God, neighbor, world, and self.

Reverend Holcombe spoke at the original Faith in Housing workshop. He co-authored the blog “Turn Your Congregational Homes Into Housing.”


Reverend Dr. John Cleghorn is pastor of Caldwell Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he has served since 2008. Caldwell is a diverse, progressive, missional congregation that has enjoyed a strong resurgence in recent years, after nearly closing its doors in 2006. Prior to his ordination, Reverend Dr. Cleghorn worked as a business journalist and a senior vice president at Bank of America. More recently, he wrote an op-ed piece for the Charlotte Observer about one way to think about our city’s real estate wealth , “What do Charlotte homeowners owe from our ‘nests on high’?”

Reverend Dr. Cleghorn spoke at both the original and the second Faith in Housing workshop. He co-authored the blog “Reimagine Your Buildings.”


Joe Taylor is Managing partner at Centerlane Capital, a real estate private equity firm. He is a member of Covenant Presbyterian serving as volunteer chair of its Affordable Housing Implementation Committee and recently joined the Session as a ruling elder. He also serves on the board of Crisis Assistance Ministry.

Joe spoke at the original Faith in Housing workshop. He co-authored the blog “Breaking New Ground for Capital Campaigns..”


Jan Edmiston is the General Presbyter at the Presbytery of Charlotte. She recently served as Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, and previously in a series of roles at The Presbytery of Chicago. Previous to mid-council work, Jan was a parish pastor for 22 years for congregations in New York and Virginia.

Reverend Edmiston is the author of the blog “Buildings That Declare Resurrection.”

Read more from her at achurchforstarvingartists.wordpress.com