The current uncertain and volatile political environment threatens support for affordable housing. Recognizing this, in the Fall of 2016, NHT and Enterprise changed the way we advocate to build a broader coalition of housing advocates. Thanks to funding from the Funders for Housing and Opportunity (FHO) and the JPB Foundation, we launched a campaign to elevate housing issues at the federal, state and local level using a grassroots campaign strategy entitled: "Where Will We Live.”
Where Will We Live entails engaging affordable housing residents, community members, and partners to share their stories and connect with key policy makers to elevate housing as a key issue. Our talented Where Will We Live team has collected more than 60 resident stories from families in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, transforming these rich stories into compelling videos and fact sheets to share with Congress and the media. We have learned so much about the need for and benefits of affordable housing from these residents and stakeholders, including:
- Retired army veteran, nurse, and grandmother Kathy Myers;
- Single mom of seven children, Bertha Chisolm;
- Refugees Saifullah Khan and (Fnu) Faizullah;
- Formerly homeless LGBTQ youth, Tashianna Curry; and
- Supportive services program director, Konswella Gilchrist.
You can hear or read their stories and many more at WhereWillWeLive.org.
We also have engaged residents in housing advocacy and in larger, "housing plus" campaigns that recognize the absolute interrelationship between stable housing, health, education, economic mobility, and energy burden. We worked with residents and communities in South Florida, Central Virginia, Chicago, and Columbus, Georgia to help facilitate five successful events for the “Housing Week of Action” held in May. These events covered diverse topics including a “know your housing rights” training for youth aging out of foster care, a community building anti-poverty dinner, an energy equity forum, and a workshop on energy efficiency and affordable housing preservation. Last spring, we also helped Kathy Myers travel to Washington, DC to participate in a congressional briefing on the importance of federal funding for affordable housing.
Our team is also conducting voter registration drives at all of NHT’s properties, which will continue through the mid-term election. We have been advising our partners and friends about what they can do to support voter engagement and how to do it easily and inexpensively. We are also planning regional civic engagement and leadership trainings on housing and non-housing issues for our residents in the coming year. Any and all of our political engagement with residents is focused on elevating their awareness of the programs that support their housing; we do not steer residents toward particular candidates or parties.
Our partners at Enterprise are developing messaging that explains how affordable housing is key to securing opportunity and the connection between housing and other social outcomes. Check out our website to review this data-informed picture of the benefits attributable to affordable housing. Our focus is on the intersection of housing with health care, education, transportation, and jobs.
The Where Will We Live campaign will generate new champions and create a broader network of elected officials and advocates from related fields in support of affordable housing. Stay tuned for updates!