Affordable Housing Initiatives

AS of 2023, rents have sky-rocketed pushing 10s of thousands of low-income and middle-class households to the brink of homelessness.  In 2010, Trinity Foundation separated a major part of our operations out to the Community on Columbia Church, a congregation made up of many of the members of Trinity.   However, in our attempts to help house low-income and homeless people we gained a lot of valuable lessons.  Trinity Foundation president Pete Evans spoke about our experiences last year (2022) to city government officials in a suburb close to Dallas.  Here is a description of our successes and failures.

Background with Homelessness

In 1988 Trinity Foundation began The Dallas Project. Foundation members believed that if 10 to 20 families in every church , synagogue, mosque or other charitable organization could take care of one homeless person or family–to commit to them as a community rather than seeing them only as “clients” for social service professionals to deal with– then homelessness might be significantly reduced or even eradicated in the United States.

As churches and organizations responded, Trinity was able to help them transcend the jargon and bureaucracy of the urban social service status quo to give needy people what they need most–community.  But for the most part, a lot of homeless families, homeless folks, and addicts came to us directly looking for help.  Few churches rose to the occassion.  And drug addicts?   Well… we learned that for the most part, younger drug addicts are more interested in stealing whatever they can get their hands on for the next high.  However, some were helped and are very grateful to this day for our policies of forgiveness and second chances.  And now back to housing initiatives.

In 1998 Trinity was asked to become owner of 13 apartment complexes in Oklahoma City and another complex in Dayton, Ohio, that would provide low-cost, affordable housing for the poor and distressed in those cities. The transaction was financed with municipal bonds.

Low-income Housting to Complement to the Dallas Project

This allowed the foundation to share its unique vision of meeting need with hundreds of new organizations, and to encounter and overcome a wider set of problems. And the response was phenomenal. This was most clearly seen in 1999 when hundreds of churches and organizations responded to the foundation’s call to care for victims of a devastating tornado that left thousands homeless in Oklohoma City. Volunteers worked to make 400 apartments available for displaced families. This “big event” effort has been followed by continuous self-sacrifice on a daily basis from countless volunteers.

The projects had many challenges.

Although the Oklahoma Project was a spiritual success in terms of ministry, it was a financial failure.  We knew nothing about “due-diligence” and learned a hard lesson about the costs to repair old apartment complexes.  Due to circumstances brought on by the economics of the day, it became financially untenable in 2003 and had to be sold. The project was made available to a California concern and became maintained as an affordable housing development.

The apartment complex in Dayton, Ohio, also met a similar fate by the mid-2000s.  During the summer of 2000, Pete Evans and other foundation members went to the city of Trotwood (a suburb of Dayton) and with two crews, scaffolds, and nail guns replaced rotten  soffits on most of the apartment buildings.

Although disappointed, Trinity learned valuable lessons about how affordable housing projects need to be structured.   At the time we were able to regain the confidence of some of the bond departments in major institutional brokerage firms and their representatives across the country.

The Problem

America is faced with an increasing crisis in low-cost, affordable housing for the poor. Traditional responses are not meeting the need.  Inflation and other factors have created an economic crisis that is threatening thousands of middle-class Americans with homelessness.

The facts are daunting.  Poverty, Housing, Hunger, and Homelessness are at an alltime high.

BUT TRINITY FOUNDATION hopes to make an impact in the wider arena of affordable housing by offering seminars for other non-profit organizations by request:

–sharing our vision of small groups sponsoring the homeless and distressed, and

–explaining a way to use municipal bond issues to finance the purchase of affordable housing as a community base to meet a wide range of social needs.

–sharing our failures in hopes to help other non-profits succeed going forward

We hope the establishment of an endowment fund supplemented by a grant could help us realize the foundation’s full potential in this arena.