|What we're building|
by Ethan Handelman, National Housing Conference
Policy work isn’t just about knocking on the doors of members of Congress. Indeed, with Congress out all this month and campaigning when the recess ends, it’s clear we need to focus elsewhere. NHC members are rolling up their sleeves to develop new ideas about housing policy that can work at the state, local and (when the time is right) federal levels. In part, they’re doing so in preparation for our Solutions 2014 conference coming up this November in Oakland.
This year’s conference has sessions created and shaped by NHC members. Some were topics I knew were essential to our mission but that members presented in new and interesting ways. Some topics were welcome surprises to me. They are critical issues for affordable housing but ones not immediately apparent to me sitting at my desk in D.C. Just two examples from my Restoring Neighborhoods track:
- Julia Ryan and Mona Mangat at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) have built a workshop around public safety and affordable housing. In places like Milwaukee and Providence, LISC has been helping to create a community safety model that encourages collaboration among residents, business owners, community development groups, police officers, prosecutors and others to reduce crime in a sustained way. Personally and anecdotally, I know how much the perception of crime levels and safety matters for where people choose to live. It’s rare, however, to see sustained policy attention to the issue in connection with affordable housing. I’m looking forward to hearing from housers and public safety officials about how they came to work together.
- Breann Gala from the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago crafted a workshop on how single-family rentals are changing neighborhoods and how housing policy needs to adapt in response. NHC has been working on this issue for some time through our National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force. I’m glad to see this session bringing perspectives from the nonprofit sector (Rob Grossinger of Enterprise Community Partners), the for-profit sector (Colin Wiel of Waypoint Homes), and the research community (Alan Mallach of the Center for Community Progress).
There are lots more examples of creative, though-provoking sessions put together by NHC members and partners. I’m grateful for all of the work so many of you have done to help Solutions 2014 succeed, and I hope many of you can join us in Oakland this November. Learn more about the Restoring Neighborhoods track and other Solutions 2014 workshops here.