The City of San Jose, California, is considering encouraging churches and other institutions to convert underused parking lots to create much needed affordable housing. The city estimates that between 300 to 500 affordable homes can be constructed throughout San Jose should the policy be approved, with places of worship as the most likely sites for development. The city promises to minimize the parking impacts as much as possible to offset an influx of residents.

San Diego passed similar changes in the winter of 2019, and other cities such as San Antonio and Montgomery County, Maryland, are looking at how cemeteries and other assets could be better used, particularly to accommodate refugees.

In an article for Governing, ULI member Rick Reinhard, principal of Niagara Consulting Group and associate at the Lakelands Institute, wrote recently in Governing, “Many houses of worship own empty and underused buildings and land. Cities and counties need properties for affordable housing. Seems like a match made in, well, heaven.”

Reinhard has worked on several ULI Advisory Services panels, most recently in Moline, Illinois, while ULI Atlanta and ULI North Florida have conducted Technical Assistance Panels to work with communities on creating more land-use opportunities for revitalization and redevelopment