Collister United Methodist Church offers affordable housing on land
The church and LEAP Housing — a local nonprofit that provides affordable housing — have partnered to create two single-family home units.
BOISE, Idaho — Joe Bankard came to Collister United Methodist Church six years ago to serve as senior pastor.
He quickly became aware of several problems in the local neighborhood; it’s the same neighborhood he calls home.
“There are definitely a lot of people in this neighborhood who are struggling financially,” Bankard said. “People struggling to keep rentals or pay taxes on homes they own. Availability is limited.”
Church leaders have started a conversation about how to be part of the solution.
Collister United Methodist Church owns 0.3 acres just behind its parking lot. It is land that the church believes is best suited to serve as housing for those in need.
“I’m not an expert in building houses. I’m not an expert in writing grants,” Bankard said.
Bankard found these experts at LEAP Housing – a local nonprofit focused on creating and preserving affordable housing.
The church provided the property. LEAP provided the knowledge and resources needed to make the dream a reality. Construction of two 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom single-family homes broke out in March 2022.
LEAP called this project Taft Homes. The units will be open to renters by the end of the calendar year, according to LEAP.
It is a partnership linked by a 50-year lease. Collister United Methodist Church charges LEAP $1 per year.
“Truly anyone can play a part in solving the affordable housing challenge,” said LEAP Founder and CEO Bart Cochran. “Collister sees this as philanthropic, and that’s how they contribute to the community.”
Once completed, housing first non-profit CATCH is responsible for referring the tenant through its rapid rehousing program. Renters cannot earn more than 30% of the area median income (AMI).
The City of Boise defines households earning 30% of the AMI as “extremely low income.” For a family of 4, 30% of AMI households earn $25,250 per year.
CATCH figures show that around 80% of families who complete the rapid rehousing program remain in stable housing.
“I’m so proud that we’re able to do this, although I know the need is far greater than what we provide. But it’s something,” Bankard said. “I really hope that other faith communities of all kinds will look at what they might have, any land they might have, that could be used to help start solving some of the housing issues in our community. Because it is our calling.”
LEAP calls this partnership with the Collister Church, “Yes in God’s Backyard” (YIGBY). It’s a spin-off of “Not in my garden” (NIMBY)
NIMBY refers to people who can support low-income, affordable housing and/or emergency homeless shelters; however, provided that these resources are not near their property or residence.
“Today there is no greater need than housing,” Cochran said. “Churches happen to be some of the biggest surplus landowners in our city. They have so much potential to not only be players in solving the affordable housing problem, they can be the solution.”
LEAP received funding for this project through federal grants, according to Cochran. Local organizations—including the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, City of Boise, REALTORS Community Foundation, Intermountain MLS, and Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation—also provided funds and other resources needed to build Taft Homes.
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