Religious, community leaders focus on affordable housing crisis

November 8, 2016

HOUSTON — Religious and community leaders will share innovative ways to address Greater Houston’s affordable housing crisis Nov. 15 during the first-ever Faith and Affordable Housing Summit, hosted by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

“We want to call together our city’s best minds to see how we can collaborate to address this major challenge,” said Cynthia N. Colbert, MSW, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. “This issue is extremely personal for the many thousands of families who are burdened by high housing costs compared to their income and who are not able to live in decent, safe housing.” 

Approximately 100 leaders will gather for the summit at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church on Buffalo Speedway from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., said Steve Mikelman, Ph.D., Catholic Charities’ Director of Housing and Economic Opportunities. Registration is $15, including breakfast, thanks to the generous support of Frost Bank.

Coordinated with Houston Habitat for Humanity and Interfaith Ministries, the summit will feature a keynote address by Rev. Harvey Clemons Jr. of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, and breakout groups focused on affordable housing basics, creating housing opportunities for congregants and neighbors, and becoming effective advocates for affordable housing.

Clemons will discuss his church’s proactive housing development program during the keynote address. In the mid-1990s, his church began to rebuild the area near the church and to provide social services to those in need. The Pleasant Hill Community Development Corporation has since developed and managed Pleasant Hill Village Retirement Community, The Victual Restaurant, Brittons Place Apartments and Park Village Apartments in Alief.

Breakout sessions will allow participants to learn from experienced panelists and to share ideas about what can be done in Greater Houston, Mikelman said. Panelists will represent Urban Land Institute, Covenant Community Capital, Habitat for Humanity International, Interfaith Ministries, St. John’s Presbyterian, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Jewish Family Services, Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston and The Metropolitan Organization.

The City of Houston’s 2015-19 Consolidated Plan emphasizes the “overwhelming housing needs” in the city, reporting that more than 180,000 households are dealing with substantial housing problems, including housing costs that are a severe burden on families, the lack of a kitchen or complete plumbing, and overcrowding. 

“Access to affordable housing is vital to self-sufficiency and an improved quality of life,” Mikelman said. “Having a decent, safe and affordable home is a goal supported by the underlying beliefs of diverse faith traditions, and we look forward to seeing what we can envision together on Nov. 15.”

For more information about the summit, contact Mikelman at or call 713-874-6593. Register online for the event at