Enterprise Community Partners announced that it is working with South Florida-based faith leaders to convert their underutilized land into affordable homes.
Faith-based organizations collectively own tens of thousands of acres of underutilized and vacant land across the U.S. One study found that houses of worship in Miami-Dade County alone own 700 vacant or underutilized lots totaling 13 million square feet of space.
“Since 2006, Enterprise has partnered with houses of worship to prove the concept that faith-based development of affordable housing and community facilities can have a positive impact in communities,” said the Rev. David Bowers, vice president and senior adviser of Enterprise’s Faith-Based Development Initiative. “We are honored to bring this work with clergy and lay faith leaders to South Florida and excited that communities of faith have embraced the potential of working together.”
The initiative launched in 2006 in the Mid-Atlantic region, where it has helped faith-based organizations to create or preserve more than 1,500 affordable homes and one community-based health clinic, with more than a thousand additional affordable homes in the development pipeline.
The $1.3 million South Florida program is part of a nationwide expansion of the model, supported by $8.5 million in grant funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation. Officials hope to build about 1,000 units.
Enterprise is working with the Collective Empowerment Group of South Florida (CEG), a consortium of local churches.
“The CEG looks forward to expanding our work with Enterprise to equip houses of worship with the information and resources they need to advance their affordable housing and community development projects from vision to reality," said the Rev. Dr. Joaquin Willis, president and CEO of CEG. "Enterprise’s Faith-based Development Initiative aligns with CEG’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its members positive impact in communities. We applaud the Wells Fargo Foundation for its support.”
Local houses of workshop were recently invited to join the effort. Faith-based organizations participating in the program will gain access to:
• Funding: Support for market/feasibility studies and pre-development activities;
• Training: Virtual and in-person trainings to help participants understand the ins and outs of the development process;
• Technical assistance and tools: One-on-one technical assistance to help overcome obstacles during the development process, as well as access to informational tools and resources;
• Access to experts: Referrals to vetted development partners, such as architects and designers, real estate lawyers, and development consultants; and
• Peer-to-peer learning: Geographic cohorts of faith-based organizations will network and learn from one another as they go through the process of housing development, and a national summit will bring faith leaders from across the country together to advance program learnings and celebrate successes.