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It's Time to Reconsider How We Advocate for Housing

As we start a new decade, it’s a great time to reconsider how we advocate for housing. The way we communicate has shifted drastically since 2010. In the last ten years, social media became the go-to platform for communication; digital resources outpaced print newspapers in the U.S. as a news source, and more people than ever are engaging politically online. Simply put, the playing field has changed for housing communicators like me. We can no longer rely on canned political jargon, crafted for congressional members and staffers on the Hill – our audience is now much broader than that.

 To break through the noise and make an impact in a  crowded digital and political environment, affordable housing communicators and advocates can make the case for more affordable housing resources by helping raise the voices of those most directly affected. Affordable homes serve as a foundation that impacts the economy of not only individual families, but an entire community. The couriers of this new narrative should not be limited to traditional housing advocacy groups. We must engage the largest natural group of advocates– residents.

Storytelling is one of the most effective means of communication. A good story brings an important issue to life by adding that personal story component of “I know this is true, because I’ve lived it.” If done well, stories can engage audiences, convey information and influence action. Since 2017, NHT and Enterprise Community Partners have been doing this through our Where Will We Live? campaign. Now, we want to help other housing communicators and advocates strategically integrate residents’ voices into their narratives as well.. which is why the National Housing Trust released the Where Will We Live? Resident Storytelling Toolkit last month.

Storytelling provides a compelling personal perspective to complement hard facts and data. The toolkit provides communicators with:

  • Storytelling basics: how to develop an audience, key message, and framework for stories;
  • Tools, methods, and resources for collecting stories;
  • How to establish relationships to collect resident stories; and
  • How to produce and distribute stories for outreach and communications efforts.

This is the start of an innovative decade. Our success relies on the resiliency of our actions, and the way in which we communicate. Affordable housing is a broad and nuanced topic that requires a holistic approach. This guide will help you effectively include resident narratives within your communications efforts. Click here to view the Resident Storytelling Toolkit >>