Mian: Transforming Empty Churches Into Affordable Housing Takes More Than a Leap of Faith

May 12, 2023

The article “Transforming Empty Churches into Affordable Housing Takes More than a Leap of Faith,” published in Planning Magazine, written by Nadia Mian, PhD, lecturer and senior program director of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement and Rick Reinhard, principal of Niagara Consulting Group, takes a closer look at zoning reform, strong partnerships, and creative funding help planners and communities convert underused houses of worship into homes.

Many religious buildings have become underused or abandoned as congregations shrink, leaving behind structures that can be expensive to maintain. The article highlights several case studies from around the United States that illustrate the potential for successful conversion of religious properties into affordable housing, but also notes the challenges associated with these efforts.

One of the main obstacles to repurposing religious properties is financial feasibility. The cost of renovating a building for housing can be significant, and funding sources can be limited. The article notes that some communities have been successful in securing funding from a variety of sources, including tax credits, grants, and donations. In addition, partnerships between non-profits, local government, and private developers can help to leverage resources and expertise.

Another challenge associated with repurposing religious properties is navigating the complex legal and regulatory landscape. Religious organizations may face restrictions on how their properties can be used, and zoning and building codes may require significant modifications to the building in order to comply with regulations. The article notes that successful conversion efforts often involve close collaboration between religious organizations, developers, and local government officials to navigate these issues.

Overall, the article highlights the potential benefits of repurposing underused religious properties into affordable housing, including preserving historic buildings, providing much-needed affordable housing, and revitalizing communities. However, the challenges associated with these efforts require careful planning, collaboration, and creative problem-solving in order to be successful.

Read the full article

Recent Posts

Do you have one of the most common jobs in New Jersey?

Nearly 4.6 million people work in New Jersey in thousands of different types of jobs. But nearly 840,000 positions make up the top 10 most common roles, according to data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Laborers and freight stock and material movers — those...

NJSPL – The New Jersey Induced Travel Calculator

By Robert B. Noland Induced travel occurs when new roads or lanes are built with the goal of reducing traffic congestion. What this means in practice is that new travel fills the new roads or lanes such that the goal of congestion reduction is not met. While many...

Kelly O’Brien (MCRP ’09) Named Fairfax City Hometown Hero

On July 15th, Kelly O'Brien (MCRP '09)  was recognized as a Hometown Hero during Fox 5 DC's Zip Trip visit to Fairfax City. "Although I don't think of myself as a hero, I am grateful for the chance to express my dedication to serving my community and shed light on the...

Winecoff: Working Paper on Health Insurance Enrollment

Spillovers in Public Benefit Enrollment: How does Expanding Public Health Insurance for Working-Age Adults affect Future Health Insurance Choices? Abstract Enrollment in one public benefit program often affects enrollment in others. We study life-course spillovers by...

$21.1 million Awarded for the Safe Routes to School Program

The Murphy Administration announced $21.1 million for 23 grants under the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program on July 10, 2024. The New Jersey Safe Routes to School Program, supported by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, is a statewide initiative with a...

Upcoming Events

Event Series CAREERS

Virtual Career Drop-ins


Stop by virtually on Mondays (except for holidays) beginning September 9th through December 16th between 11 am and 1 pm to ask a quick (15 min) career-related question of Bloustein […]