Embroiled in an impossible ethical dilemma, a choice between constructing urgently needed affordable housing or deferring to the community of color displaced and downcast by racist housing policies, Haywood St. Community Development ultimately decided to yield our vision for housing on Ashland Avenue.  Filled with grief for the people in poverty, many black and brown-bodied, still waiting for keys to a front door, we ceded to the unknown and started considering other options.

And then something remarkable happened.  A site we pursued years prior- one much closer to the sanctuary, one with western facing mountain views, one without adjacent residential neighbors, one without the oppressive history of urban renewal, one within a neighborhood long known for championing affordable housing- became available again.  Heartened by the opportunity, we agreed on terms with the seller and recently went under contract at 339 West Haywood Street.

Since Haywood St. Congregation has long welcomed the unhoused community without reservation, many contending with severe mental illness, generational scarcity, institutional isolation, and substance use disorder, one might assume the same intention with Haywood St. Community Development (HSCD) housing.  And that would be true if we were attempting to build on campus.  However, in this instance, our proposal is not the desperately needed Homeward Bound project at the Days Inn (permanent supportive housing), nor the long-overdue crisis shelter at the Ramada Inn (low barrier), nor abiding AHOPE (homeless day center).

Instead, while still very early in the design process, we are proposing a multi-family development of 45 one, two and, three-bedroom apartments on a podium-style building with an expansive community space.  Residents, including adults and single mothers with children, would fall into one of three income brackets as defined by Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The highest earners would make up to $42,000 annually (80% Area Median Income).  Think medical laboratory technician, fast food restaurant manager, or delivery driver.  Middle-income earners would make up to $30,000 annually (60% AMI). Think hotel clerk, home health aid, childcare worker.  And half of the apartments would be reserved for extremely low-income residents with individual housing choice vouchers making up to $15,000 annually (30% AMI).  If working, think day laborer, part-time bartender, entry-level manufacturing.  If not, citizens on disability.

Wanting to over-communicate our plans beginning today, HSCD, the non-profit pursuing affordable housing, will start a transparency ticker to outline our process, disseminate details, and keep you informed about upcoming dates.  For those wanting to learn more, we will be holding a virtual public meeting on September 26 at 3.  Please email us at hscd@haywoodstreet.org for the Zoom link.

As always, like in ministry and mission, our intention with housing will be collaborative.  To invite disparate groups to the table of conversation and fellowship, trusting that the process of neighborhood engagement among those with permanent addresses and those without will be refining.  That in listening carefully to one another, we can co-create community through deeply affordable housing in a dramatically new way together.  Please join us.