Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens who changed housing

by Chris Estes, National Housing Conference 

In the first issue of Under One Roof of 2016 I noted that the National Housing Conference is celebrating its 85th anniversary as an organization this year. In each issue of Under One Roof, I will highlight a little bit about the amazing people and policy success NHC has had in its 85-year history. This month, I honor Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch, a social worker who started the movement that we are all a part of today!

In 1931, the Great Depression was in full effect, exacerbating the filthy, overcrowded conditions of the poor in cities across the country and wiping out family farms and small towns across the south and midwest. In New York City, Mrs. Simkhovitch prodded civic leaders into action. A reformer and social worker, she believed that imaginative programs could replace unhealthy and crime-ridden slums with decent housing and a new spirit of community.

That year she formed the National Public Housing Conference, a pioneering advocacy coalition made up of other women reformers along with bankers, builders, realtors, labor leaders, architects and residents. New York City began an effort to produce new housing and to educate and build public support for this work by highlighting the consequences that slum conditions had on the general welfare, crime, health and the local economy.

Recognizing the national scope of these issues and the important role the federal government must play in solving housing challenges, this group would soon move to Washington, D.C. and rename itself the National Housing Conference. It is noteworthy that NHC’s first policy success was the passage of the Federal Home Loan Bank Act that established the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and 12 regional banks.

I look forward to sharing more NHC stories with you in the coming months. If you have your own stories to share, I hope you’ll do so through our website.

One of NHC’s annual traditions is our Budget Forum. Set after the anticipated release of the president’s budget, this event gives our members insight into both the proposed budget for housing programs and the likely budget process for the coming year.

To make this event accessible to all parts of the country we moved it from being an in person event at the Capitol Visitors Center to an online webinar that is free to all. Ethan and Kaitlyn have lined up a diverse and knowledgeable group of speakers for the webinar who you will not want to miss. In addition to the budget discussion, we will also host a conversation with Bob Moss of CohnReznick on legislative prospects for tax reform and what members of the affordable housing community should focus on in that area for the coming year.

In order to make sure this event is as engaging as possible for our attendees, we are offering registrants the opportunity to submit questions for our speakers in advance, as well as during the webinar. You can find more information on all of this below from Kaitlyn and on our website.

As always, thank you for being a member of NHC. 

1 comment:

StarryTelling said...

Your comments at the recent meeting hosted by the Govt of Takoma Park were most cogent and insightful and I'm glad your position in the program made it possible for you to summarize the key points and to focus our attention on what we need for the future 10, 20, 30 years down the road.