Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Moving Housing Forward

Making strides in housing advocacy
by improving how we communicate

by Chris Estes, National Housing Conference

One of the goals of the National Housing Conference is to elevate affordable housing on the national agenda. Like many housing advocates, I once lamented the low priority the public seems to place on housing relative to other issues. But instead of just throwing in the towel, the housing community at the national and state levels has addressed this issue by working to implement sophisticated, proven messaging techniques and to tie the need for affordable housing to other issues of importance to communities.

NHC’s Housing Communications HUB is one of our contributions to this effort. The HUB is a free online resource for those who want to communicate more effectively about affordable housing to learn and share communications strategies that work. After several months in beta, the HUB is now in final format, with new features and content. I hope you’ll visit, join, and contribute to the discussion.

NHC works to show the connection between housing and other issues on the policy side as well. This month I will be in Denver to host a convening in collaboration with Enterprise, the UC Berkley Center for Cities and Schools, and Reconnecting America. The event focuses on the intersection of housing, transportation and education and will touch on the issues of neighborhood development, gentrification, displacement and access to opportunity. As many of you know, NHC’s Center for Housing Policy has a long history of looking at the housing and transportation intersection and I am excited that we are expanding this lens to education and local school quality. I will be co-leading the policy implications discussion at the end of the day, which is something NHC is eager to work on going forward.

The point of improving how we communicate is, of course, to move housing policy forward.  This week, I’m in Seattle to speak to the leaders of the Federal Home Loan Banks on housing finance reform issues. I have noted in the past that this is a major NHC effort to bring together a broad spectrum of the housing community around a common set of principles to push reform forward in a way that benefits our core mission of accessible credit and affordable housing. Ethan highlights our role in developing nonpartisan, evidenced-based policy recommendations in his column below. I hope you will take time to the view the principles. If you want to have your organization listed as an endorser, please let Ethan know.

Our work to move housing policy forward extends beyond federal policy to the state and local levels. Robert Hickey, a senior research associate at the Center, has been invited to present at a forum hosted by the Seattle City Council next week on strategies to increase affordable housing for the city’s workforce. Robert is a national leader in inclusive housing policy research and led the development of the workshop track on this issue for our Solutions 2013 Conference in Atlanta this past fall. This is indicative of uniqueness of the Center as a resource on local, regional and state housing policy, and its efforts to link research to practice. See more below from Lisa on the Center’s research agenda.

This is just a small part of what we have going on this month. I hope you can see what a good investment it is to be a member of NHC. Please take time to see more information on how to join, become a member of our Leadership Circle or sponsor one of our events.

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