So - muddling through a new idea, or rather a convergence of many ideas old and new.
What follows is some thoughts on starting a not-for profit housing company.
So...thoughts anyone?


The overarching image I am using to frame these thoughts is ?home.? Jesus preparing a home for us, how do we prepare home here? How do we create a kingdom understanding of ?home,? that is more holistic, co-operative, selfless, and healing? So here are some of my thoughts on creating a non-profit housing corporation with several key elements that aren?t always common to non-profit and subsidized housing.

1. True non- profit. Typically, non-profit housing corporations (NPHC from now on!) put up money either government grants or private donations, to build housing. The job is tendered out and trades bid on it and execute the work. Alternately with organisations like habitat for humanity often rely on volunteer work from trades. This is obviously far superior, but also much harder to sustain a multitude of projects. The idea for this NPHC would be to develop an association or co-operative of trades who have similar vision and values and would agree to not build a profit into their cost. The NPHC would pay labour, and overhead, expenses for the co-operative, but would be able to save significant money by gathering these like-minded companies willing to eliminate their profit. This would make the housing true non-profit.

2. Environmentally and socially conscious. Too often subsidized housing is also substandard. We have the opportunity to join a growing group of people looking to do affordable housing in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way. Thoughts like ?cradle to cradle? http://www.mcdonough.com/writings/towards_a_sustaining.htm
Or architecture for humanity, or Design for the other 90% really promote sustainable building practice and don?t necessarily cost more. The other benefit to being proactive in this area is the ongoing maintenance and operating costs. Some items are far too cost-prohibitive, however, some technologies like solar water heaters have drastically reduced pricing and would make a lot of sense when spread over three or four unit buildings. Properly positioned window shades can reduce heating costs and other simple but effective design elements can make these projects affordable to operate as well as build and communicate a deep long term concern for our communities.

3. Community oriented architecture. My time at the Village has really encouraged me to look at this. While you cannot force community, you can design buildings that promote it and therefore promote interactions between residents. For example, entryways to multiplexes can either be very private or accessible via common space. This small design detail makes a big difference. You are far less likely to steal from someone you have to see every day, and far more likely to be kind to someone who you see struggling with groceries if you have to walk right past them to your own door. Again, nothing can make relationship and community happen, but we can intentionally create physical space to catalyze it.

4. Using the idea of ?home? I would like to link affordable housing in the peninsula with housing in the developing world. Perhaps there may be market value units available within a multiplex and those market value units would fund building initiatives in the developing world.

5. Community engagement. The management structure of these affordable housing units would again be centered around this Christian idea of ?home.? Rather than treat our clients as second rate, I would like to foster real community interaction, making a variety of programs available for our clients. This would be more of an ongoing management ideal and would therefore be more specific to each building and would need further development with partners.

6. Training ? I would like to see the actual building process incorporate the idea of training. So that as a NPHC we would intentionally make ourselves available to underprivileged students looking to learn a trade. This also needs some serious thought, but again falls into the idea of ?home? and a more holistic model of building where information and expertise is passed on rather than guarded as some sort of trade patent or secret.






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