Affordable housing next to Episcopal church? | Worship

By Cynthia Espeseth | Sep 07, 2016
Cynthia Espeseth

Our music director has just resigned, and it has been like a wet blanket cast over our church.

We love her. She has taught us to sing and dance and pray our music like nobody else. But she and her partner have to leave this area because it is just too expensive for them to live here.

There is just not enough affordable housing anymore. So they are moving to Nebraska, where they are able to purchase a home and where it is much cheaper to live.

This isn’t the first time I have encountered people leaving this region because of the cost of living.

My son, who teaches in Seattle, can barely afford an apartment in that school district, at least not on a teacher’s salary, which is a whole other outrage.

We’ve heard the woes about how expensive it is to find affordable housing. South Snohomish County is just a little better than Seattle and east King County.

But the cost of housing is out of control. And there is almost no transitional housing for people working to get back on their feet. Not having affordable housing is wrong on every level.

It’s wonderful that we have great corporate players, such as Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and Google. But with the influx of so many people, the lack of enough housing has created a situation that is causing more problems than we can keep up with.

Our church property at 15224 52nd Ave. W in Edmonds includes 1.8 acres of forest. It is seasonally wet, but only because an open stream was blocked when homes were built around the church.

Having these woods in the midst of a subdivision may be nice for some, but for us, they have become an attractive nuisance.

We have found drug needles, lots of garbage, as well as clothes, tents and sleeping bags, not to mention dog poop left by neighborhood dog walkers.

We are not a large congregation. Most of us work full-time jobs, so we don’t have the volunteers who can regularly tend to this part of our property.

So our congregation has started talking about how we can be better stewards of our property, and at the same time serve our community.

One idea we have had is to use these woods behind the church, and even some of the other church property, for low-income housing.

There have been some creative suggestions about how we might do this. One thought is that we sell the land to a developer who would be interested in building low-income or transitional housing on part of our property.

At St. Hilda St. Patrick, we don’t have the expertise needed to pursue this idea, so we are curious whether there is someone out there who is interested in partnering with us.

We are a lively group of faithful Christians who want to share the love of God through Jesus Christ.

Are you interested in partnering with us in this project? Do you have the expertise that could help us figure this out? We would like to talk with you! Send me an email via vicar@sthildastpatrick.org.

The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth is an Episcopal priest for St. Hilda St. Patrick. She has been ordained for 15 years. Her passions are weaving people to God and rowing.

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