July 22, 2020

Enterprise New York Partners with Faith Community to Create Affordable Homes 

By Jackie Bein, AmeriCorps VISTA, Capital Solutions and Communications

In New York City, where there is a tremendous need for affordable housing yet a very limited supply of available land, faith-based organizations who own land are well-positioned to help address the affordable housing crisis. Mission-driven faith organizations are ideal partners to create affordable housing, as many have a longstanding role serving their communities and already offer programs and services, such as food pantries, daycares, and youth programs. However, faith-based organizations may not have the technical expertise necessary to embark on an affordable housing development project.  

Enterprise has long been involved in faith-based partnerships, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic region, where Enterprise has developed a robust initiative that has created or preserved over 1,200 affordable homes over the last 12 years. Research published by Enterprise in January 2020 aims to assist faith organizations and community stakeholders nationwide interested in advancing this strategy. 

In New York, Enterprise’s Faith-Based Development Initiative (FBDI) aims to support faith-based organizations in exploring the feasibility of affordable housing development by equipping them with an understanding of the development process and key information about their property. Enterprise’s FBDI does this by way of hosting panel discussions to connect faith leaders to affordable housing experts, and by providing organizations with key site analysis reports such as property appraisals, zoning, and financing feasibility. Enterprise also assists interested faith-based organizations with identifying experienced mission-aligned developers to partner with on their prospective projects.  

Enterprise launched the New York pilot program of FBDI in 2018 in collaboration with Kingdom Faith Developers, a nonprofit anchored in the New York faith community that facilitates connections between faith-based organizations and real estate professionals. As a partner in this initiative, Kingdom Faith connects faith-based organizations to Enterprise and leads exploratory conversations to help determine whether affordable housing development aligns with the organization’s mission and vision for their congregation. Enterprise and Kingdom Faith Developers co-convene the educational panels, collaborate on outreach, and respond to the unique needs of each faith-based organization.  

Enterprise NY is currently supporting eight faith-based organizations. In the coming year, the initiative will continue to connect to faith-based organizations and provide virtual educational opportunities and individualized support. As faith-based organizations respond to Covid-19 and its disparate impact on low income families in communities of color, it is more important than ever that faith-based organizations access Enterprise’s trusted expertise and resources to navigate the predevelopment process. 

As this initiative expands in New York and other markets across the country, Enterprise will lift up a model that assists faith organizations through public and private partnerships, while leveraging best practices and people-centered innovation. 

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