One of the biggest changes in coming to work for a national organization like NHC is that it is harder to stay connected to the issues and stories of people struggling with affordable housing and poverty. This is one reason why NHC focuses half of our work at the regional, state and local levels. This is also why we are pleased to join the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Human Needs to sponsor a discussion of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” with author Matthew Desmond on April 28 in Washington, D.C. If you are not heading to New York for our Solutions for Housing Communications convening and you are in the D.C. region you should register for this free event.
This book is a must-read for anyone who works in the affordable housing and community development fields. It is a riveting and haunting collection of the stories of several families and individuals struggling to find housing beneath the crushing weight of poverty. The theme of how an eviction can lock a family out of decent housing going forward is one we all need to confront. The connection of services and supports is essential so that housing resources can stabilize and support families and individuals. It is stunning to note how few housing resources, supportive services or case management exist in the lives of those in Desmond’s stories. I see it as a call to action for all of us to educate the public and policymakers on the need and costs of not adequately funding housing and services.
This issue was highlighted yesterday when HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced a new effort to prevent ex-offenders from experiencing housing discrimination in subsidized developments. I hope that this book will lead to both discussion and action on race, poverty, discrimination and housing. Its themes are ones NHC plans to continue addressing in many of our working groups.
Finally, we are excited to kick off the sale of tickets and sponsorships for NHC’s 44th Annual Housing Visionary Award Gala later this week. This year we are excited to honor Rural LISC and the Housing Assistance Council for their long history of work in the area of rural housing. The event will be co-chaired this year by Michael M. Horn, Chairman of the Council of Federal Home Loan Banks and Martin Sundquist, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo. Now is the time to secure your sponsorship and tickets to this annual must-attend event on June 2 at the National Building Museum. Don’t forget that the following day, June 3, NHC will host its Annual Policy Symposium, “Housing as Places and People Change.” Featuring two panel discussions on rural communities in transition and housing’s place in solving poverty, this promises again to be a great opportunity for thought-provoking discussion.