Free public workshop will examine affordable housing solutions

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Rona Henry / RWJF

In most community assessments in California, affordable housing is the number one need. A free public workshop, “Affordable Housing – A Home, A Heart,” will be held on Nov. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon at Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Drive. 

Keynote speaker Rona Henry will discuss the myths and facts surrounding affordable housing. Henry is an affordable housing advocate with the Welcoming Neighbors Home Initiative, a ministry of Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lake Forest. Working with other organizations and individuals, Welcoming Neighbors Home advocates have successfully advocated for an expansion of housing in Lake Forest and San Clemente. Members adhere to a housing first policy, believing that when people have a place to call home, they are better positioned to address other challenges. The group encourages cities to adopt inclusionary housing policies that require extremely low and very low-income affordable housing units and champions permanent supportive housing as a proven solution to homelessness. Its members provide one dinner a month at the Alternative Sleeping Location in Laguna Beach, among other outreach and direct-service efforts. 

Dawn Price, executive director of Friendship Shelter, which operates the ASL, will lead a breakout session at the Monday workshop. Friendship Shelter’s programs have helped reduce homelessness in south Orange County, according to a Point In Time count held earlier this year. 

“Those of us fortunate enough to live in a safe home we can afford may not think about it much, but it’s a simple truth: where we live matters,” Neighborhood Church Pastor Rodrick Echols said. “It determines so much about our lives and our children’s lives. When Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted, signs copies of his book, he writes ‘Home = Life.’ How true this is. Our workshop is an inducement for us to seek investments and protections that will make it easier for people to find safe, decent, affordable homes.”

“Affordable Housing – A Home, A Heart” is free and open to the public. Those interested can RSVP by email at [email protected] or call (949) 494-8061.

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