Churches weigh in on housing

A group of 29 congregations will try to persuade county commissioners to create affordable housing.

Published March 19, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - As expensive condominiums rise and as homeless numbers increase, a faith-based organization wants more low-cost housing - and it plans to push county leaders to make it happen.

The coalition of 29 congregations, called Faith and Action for Strength Together, will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Pasadena Community United Methodist Church, 227 70th St. S.

The discussion will focus on persuading Pinellas County commissioners to find ways to provide affordable housing.

In a statement for the media, the group said affordable housing is important for people in a wide range of occupations and circumstances.

"We are concerned about the need for affordable housing (for) teachers, policemen, firefighters," the Rev. Willie McClendon said in the media statement. McClendon is the FAST co-chairman and is the pastor of Shiloh Missionary Church in Largo.

"But we're also talking about those who do service work - maids, fast-food workers, people who make $40,000, $30,000, $15,000 a year and less," McClendon said.

"We need to look out for those people and make sure housing is affordable to them. That's where the greatest need is."

FAST has been in existence for about three years.

Last year, more than 1,200 people gathered at Holy Family Catholic Church for a meeting about prekindergarten programs for low-income children and bus transportation for elderly people.