The BIG IDEA
MAY’s BIG IDEA
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the generally accepted definition of affordability is for a household to spend no more than 30 percent of its annual income on housing costs. However, there are more than 12 million American households that spend over 50 percent of their income on housing costs. The Mt. Tabor African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has implemented its BIG IDEA to combat the lack of affordable housing in the community in which it is located.
In 2009, Mt. Tabor AME Church, under the leadership of Pastor Martha A. Lang, opened the Mt. Tabor Cyber Village Senior Housing Community. This building, which consists of 56 units, is a green-roofed, energy efficient building for residents 55 years and older. Residents of the Cyber Village receive computer training as well as their own laptop computers, and the Cyber Village is also equipped with high-speed wireless Internet. The building includes amenities such as a Cyber Cafe, physical fitness center, and roof-top garden. Residents also share community spaces on each floor, including a game room, media center, library, and community gathering room.
The success of the Cyber Village did not happen overnight. Ten years ago, this 600 member congregation began seeking ways to provide affordable housing in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Mt. Tabor worked with the mayor and city council members to acquire land near the church. The church also partnered with the Mt. Tabor Community Education and Economic Development Corporation (CEED) and the Seventh Street Senior Housing Board to complete this project.
In the future, Mt. Tabor plans to implement other BIG IDEAS and develop other properties in its neighborhood. The church also plans to partner with nearby schools so that residents of the Cyber Village and local students can forge relationships with one another, thereby strengthening the community. With God’s help, Mt. Tabor will continue to implement its BIG IDEAS to help provide affordable housing and other community development programs in the Philadelphia area.
ResourcesIf your church or community is interested in developing affordable housing, the following national and community organizations can assist with your project:
Some Churches that have affordable housing programs: