The Interfaith Center of New York and The Office of New York City Comptroller, Brad Lander
with Community Cosponsors:
Thursday, December 15th
Online Conference, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Affordable Housing Tour and Community Conversation in-person, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement.
This conference has now passed — deepest thanks to all our partners, presenters, and participants!
For many decades, the New York metropolitan area has suffered from an increasing shortage of affordable housing. The Covid-19 pandemic as well as the upsurge in migrant arrivals have only increased the need for housing. Market rents in New York City are increasing faster than in any large city in the country. This is no surprise given the combination of restrictive development policies and steep population growth from the previous decade. As New York City begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, market rents have sharply risen leaving low-income individuals to be faced with upscale redevelopment projects and rising rents they cannot afford. Faith leaders and their communities play a unique role in addressing the housing crisis. Faith-based organizations and houses of worship are responding to skyrocketing housing prices with initiatives ranging from protests and policy proposals to efforts to build affordable homes on under-utilized property owned by houses of worship.
Clergy members, lay leaders, and faith-based activists have long been at the forefront of our society’s response to housing, particularly in marginalized communities. But faith leaders are taking on new roles in the current crisis by utilizing their houses of worship as temporary housing for those in need, as well as building new affordable housing sites on their house of worship land. This conference will highlight concrete steps faith leaders can take to address the affordable housing crisis in their local communities and beyond.
The conference will feature a keynote address from Brad Lander, New York City Comptroller. The conference will be followed by a community conversation at an affordable housing site at Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement. Please see the detailed schedule below.
The conference is open to all religious and civic leaders. It will be held on Zoom — registered participants will receive the Zoom link after registering. The affordable housing tour and community conversation will begin at 4:00 pm sharp. Please meet us in front of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement at 256 West 153rd Street, New York, NY 10039.
Registration is free, but please click here to support the Interfaith Center’s work. A contribution to the Interfaith Center of NY will not affect business dealings with the City or provide special access to City officials.
Conference community cosponsors are Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, New York Disaster Interfaith Services, New York State Council of Churches, Project Hospitality and Tirdof: New York Jewish Clergy for Justice.
Questions about the conference? Please contact Hanadi Doleh, ICNY’s Director of Community Partnerships, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9:00 am – 9:15 am Welcome, Opening Reflections, and Prayer
Hanadi Doleh, Director of Community Partnerships, Interfaith Center of New York
Aliya Latif, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Special Projects, Office of New York City Comptroller
Karma Acharya Vijah Ramjattan, Interfaith Prayer
9:15 am – 10:15 am Keynote Address: Faith in Housing
Presentation and conversation with New York City Comptroller on social housing and the housing crisis in our city. Our speaker will be:
Brad Lander, New York City Comptroller
Moderated by Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York
10:15 am – 10:30 am Break, or Optional Borough-Based Networking
10:30 am – 11:30 am Panel Discussion: Faith-Based Perspectives on Housing
Diverse faith community leaders will share lessons from their work, and perspectives from their faith traditions. How have they worked to address housing in their communities? What challenges did they face and how did they overcome them? Speakers will include:
Isaac Adlerstein, Executive Director of Broadway Community, Inc.
Rev. Peter Cook, Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches
Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC
Moderated by Dr. Henry Goldschmidt, Director of Programs, Interfaith Center of New York
11:30 am – 11:40 am Break – Take a Moment to Rest and Refocus
11:45 am – 1:30 pm Hands-On Workshops
Small group workshops will help you build relationships with other conference participants, develop practical organizing skills, and learn about a range of issues related to affordable housing. Each 45-minute workshop will be offered twice, with a brief break in between, so conference participants can take two workshops. Workshop topics will include:
Housing for the Public Good. To truly confront the scale of New York City’s affordability and homelessness crisis, we need a bold new vision for housing for the public good – affordable and supportive housing that guarantees permanent affordability, prioritizes community ownership and democratic control, and protects housing from the speculative real estate marketplace. Houses of worship can play a key role in developing housing that focuses more on people than profits. Workshop panelists: Monica Dean, Director of Housing Programs at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) NYC, Celeste Hornbach, Senior Policy Advisor to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, Brianna Soleyn, Ally Director at East New York Community Land Trust, and Sam Stein, Housing Policy Analyst at the Community Service Society.
Protecting Tenants Rights. In the face of skyrocketing rents, thousands of backlogged eviction cases, and tenant harassment, New York City and State must strengthen tenant protections. As a pillar of community life, faith-based institutions can help support their members through advocacy and organizing. This workshop will help give an overview of basic tenant protections and what legislative changes are needed to strengthen those protections. Workshop panelists: Edward Garcia, Director of Housing Justice and Community Development at North West Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Whitney Hu, Director of Civic Engagement and Research at Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH), and Jared Watson, Tenant Organizer at Fifth Avenue Committee.
Best Practices and New Opportunities: Houses of Worship & Faith-Based Non-Profits on Emergency Housing & Homelessness. Faith-based organizations and congregations serve as the backbone of the emergency shelter system in this country and play a critical role in delivering services to people in crisis. This workshop will share best practices that faith-based organizations and communities have adopted to support the unhoused–whether they be newly arrived asylees or individuals and families displaced by local gentrification and rising rent. Participants will also discuss new opportunities available to congregations seeking to provide overnight shelter and day respite for vulnerable populations. Workshop Panelists: Adama Bah, Immigrants Rights Advocate and Marc Greenberg, Executive Director of the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness, and Peter Gudaitis, Executive Director of New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS).
Developing Affordable and Accessible Community-Based Housing for Vulnerable Populations. Accessible and affordable housing can enable community living, maximize independence, and promote health for vulnerable populations. However, New York City faces a shortage of affordable and accessible housing for low-income populations. To better understand the importance of affordable and accessible housing, this workshop will focus on the programs and policies that successfully provide accessible housing and community living opportunities for people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated individuals, asylum seekers and refugees, LGBTQ youth, and low-income households. Workshop Panelists: Rev. Dr. Terry Troia, President, and Ceo at Project Hospitality, and Rev. Alisa W. Cupid, the Program Director of Allen Women’s Resource Center, and Joseph Loonam, Housing Campaign Coordinator at VOCAL-New York.
Public Housing in New York City. The unique challenges of New York’s population density inspired strenuous efforts to remedy them, including one of the nation’s most extensive public housing systems. This workshop will delve into the history of public housing in New York City and the many challenges our city faces in addressing public housing. Workshop Panelists: Rev. Getulio Cruz, Jr and Joanne Kennedy, Co-Chairs of Manhattan Together – Metro IAF, and Nina Saxon, NYCHA Relations and Faith Communities at Office of New York City Comptroller.
When you register for the conference, you will be asked to rank your workshop preferences. We will try to place all participants in their top two workshop choices, but we cannot guarantee placement.
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Closing Reflections and Prayer
Town hall discussion and reflection on the day’s conversations, and above all next steps toward action. What will we take back to our congregations and communities from today’s conference? How can we work together to end the epidemic of lack of housing?
Moderated by Hanadi Doleh, Director of Community Partnerships, Interfaith Center of New York, and Nicole Krishtul, Strategic Organizer – Housing, Office of New York City Comptroller Brad Lander
Venerable You Lin, Interfaith Prayer
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Affordable Housing Tour and Community Conversation in Harlem
Following the online conference, meet in person for a community conversation in Harlem at an affordable housing site. Join us on a tour of one of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement’s affordable housing sites followed by a community conversation. Please meet us at 4:00 pm sharp in front of 256 West 153rd Street, New York, NY 10039.
If you will be live tweeting or posting, please use the hashtags #FaithInHousing and #MMR40 for this event.