Planning Division

Housing and the Faith Community

In partnership with Hope Solutions and Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition (MFAC), the City is changing its regulations to allow sites currently used as houses of worship (e.g., churches, temples) to also be used for affordable housing. This endeavor is one affordable housing production strategy that the team is advancing pursuant to a Breakthrough Grant.

Changing the City’s land use regulations would allow faith-based organizations (FBOs) with excess land or large parking lots to redevelop their properties with housing while retaining their house of worship on the same site. Many FBOs are not currently allowed to develop housing on their properties based on their zoning district and/or designation in the General Plan. The City’s changes would not force houses of worship to add housing; it would only allow interested FBOs to add housing if they want.

This project is currently in the beginning phase and some of the questions that will need to be answered include:

  • What amount and depth of affordability should be targeted for residential development that would not otherwise be allowed on faith-owned land?
  • In addition to houses of worship, should affordable housing also be allowed on other sites with “assembly uses,” like theaters, libraries, and schools?
  • What kinds of site and building design standards should apply to residential buildings on faith-owned land?
  • What incentives can the City or our partners offer to make projects more feasible?

The idea of leveraging faith-owned land for affordable housing has gained momentum in California in recent years partly due to research from the Terner Center showcasing the faith-owned land potential statewide and proposed Senate Bill [SB] 4 (the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act). SB 4 is currently being considered by the State Legislature in the 2023-2024 legislative session and, if passed, it would allow and streamline affordable housing development on land owned by faith institutions and nonprofit colleges.

The City of Antioch has already made strides to facilitate residential development on faith-owned land. The City’s 2023-2031 Housing Element identified and rezoned six opportunity sites for housing on land currently developed with houses of worship. It also includes Program 2.1.7 Support Non-Profit Housing Sponsors, which includes an action to work with local housing organizations on regulatory changes to facilitate housing development on the six sites.

The Housing Element only addresses 6 of 41 known FBOs in Antioch. Antioch has over 70 acres of faith-owned land, which represents a potential for over 1,000 new, affordable homes. Most of these sites are near schools, shopping centers, and bus stops. However, regulatory change is needed to unlock the housing potential on these sites.

Explore Antioch’s faith-owned sites for yourself using this interactive map.

Some faith- and community-based organizations have pointed to micro home communities (also called tiny home villages, pocket neighborhoods, or cottage courts) as a promising type of home to develop on faith-owned land. Smaller footprint homes, which are sometimes built in a factory, can be built more quickly and cost effectively than conventional site-built homes or apartments, and their smaller scale allows them to gently fill in existing neighborhoods. These micro home communities would be permanent homes, not temporary or transitional housing like pallet homes or sanctioned encampments.

Examples of smaller homes, bungalows, and cottage courts are prevalent in many California cities, including Antioch, but today’s zoning regulations make these types of homes difficult to build and even illegal in many cases. As part of the effort to allow housing on faith-owned land, the City is looking to update its Zoning Code to facilitate the development of micro home communities.

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A “pocket neighborhood” in Antioch

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A cottage court in Alameda County

This work is made possible through a Breakthrough Grant provided by the Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF). PBF is a collaborative effort using racial and economic equity as its guiding influence to advance housing solutions that produce and preserve affordable homes so that the Bay Area remains a diverse place where all people are welcome and can thrive.

The City of Antioch, in collaboration with Hope Solutions and Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition, was one of eleven teams awarded a grant.

Program Partner Websites

Examples from other cities

Select Example Projects

Housing development on faith-owned land and villages of micro homes can range in size, ownership/rental structure, populations housed, and affordability. The list below gives a glimpse into what other projects have looked like.

Staff Contact

Meredith Rupp, Partnership for the Bay’s Future Fellow

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