Bay Area churches step in to help ease housing crisis

Cities all across the Bay Area are turning to a community staple to help expand the stock of available, affordable housing. 

A year-long project to refurbish dilapidated apartment units in Hayward has nearly reached the halfway point. 

The impetus: Inspiration from across the street, from Glad Tidings International Church-in-Christ Senior Pastor church Jerry Macklin.

“We believe the church is not only for the sanctuary and for people who attend here, but we have a responsibility for the whole community,” said Macklin.

Increasingly, all communities are seeing the price of housing move out of reach for the masses. The result is a wave of homeless residents, or residents moving out of the area. 

In Hayward, Glad Tidings church partnered with Eden Housing to turn what had been an eyesore into the Faith Manor Apartments.

“They’re looking at it and thinking it’s a moral crisis. And they feel like, as a faith-based entity, we should be doing more for this," said Landis Graden, a real estate consultant with DCG Strategies, Inc. "So they’re looking at their land, which is often the last real resource to do housing development in the Bay Area especially."

Glad Tidings started purchasing and redeveloping properties back in the late 90s. 

This is nothing new for the church, but it's a new trend for other houses of worship— from the North Bay to the East Bay, the South Bay and as far south as San Diego. Houses of worship turning to the development of real estate.

“We’ve been getting applications from churches interested in building supportive housing on their properties,” said Cheryl Wessling, spokeswoman for the San Jose Dept. of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement.

She says at least two churches are in discussion with the city about using land to house homeless or low-income residents.

“San Jose is interested in solving the homeless crisis and we encourage anyone who can contribute to the solution to come up with creative ideas," she said. "It’s a goal of the general plan to end homelessness in San Jose,” she said."

In Hayward, across the street from Glad Tidings, the immediate goal is to get 63 residents in danger of moving or becoming homeless, into the refurbished units by summer 2020.

“Providing housing for people is absolutely critical. And we’re using what power that we have in terms of the real estate that we own, to be able to assist in that,” said Macklin.