Empowering faith organizations to convert land into affordable homes
compiled by Hugo Acosta
The American Heart Association, Enterprise Community Partners to enable faith-based organizations to help improve community health through affordable housing
More than 50 million people in the United States have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke due to constant struggles to make housing payments. A grant from The Kresge Foundation will support a collaboration between the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise), a national nonprofit that creates and preserves affordable homes in thriving communities, to help local faith-based institutions identify unique solutions to develop land and property assets into affordable housing.
Nearly 38 million households nationwide spend above 30% of their income on housing payments and are left with few resources to cover necessities such as food, childcare, utilities and health care. Black and Hispanic households are almost twice as likely as white households to lack housing security due in part to structural racism that has restricted the lives of people of color throughout history.
“Since 2006, Enterprise has worked with houses of worship in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia to turn underutilized land into community spaces, a health clinic, and more than a thousand affordable homes—with many more on the way. We are thrilled to expand that success across the country,” said David Bowers, vice president and Mid-Atlantic market leader, Enterprise. “Together with the American Heart Association, we are positioned to help empower faith communities with the development resources, capital and training to better the lives of all the people they serve.”
Houses of worship from all faiths and backgrounds interested in learning more about the benefits, policies and procedures associated with converting unused property into affordable housing are invited to attend a free informational webinar led by Enterprise on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 or Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Faith communities interested in pursuing a faith-based housing initiative and obtaining training and additional information will have the opportunity to attend one of five workshops in late 2020 and early 2021.
According to recent findings from the Household Pulse Survey, among those who experienced job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, half of adults in households with an income under $25,000 had little to no confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage on time, compared to about 8% of adults in households earning $100,000 or more.
“The pandemic has illuminated that the church is not a building – it is where you live,” said Melvin R. Thompson, American Heart Association volunteer and executive director of The Endeleo Institute, a public charity that works with Enterprise to repurpose existing assets to improve the health in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood. “To better gauge the health of residents in under-resourced communities, follow them home.”
To learn more about housing, health and faith, visit www.EmPOWEREDtoServe.org.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
View this release in Spanish.
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 Structural racism and health inequities
 United States Census Bureau: Low-Income and Younger Adult Hardest Hit by Loss of Income During COVID-19