Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A united field

by Chris Estes, National Housing Conference

NHC just wrapped up a very successful Solutions for Housing Communications convening in Minneapolis last week. Special thank you to our event partners, the Minnesota Housing Partnership, the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Minnesota Housing and the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, to our Premier National Sponsor JPMorgan Chase, mobile workshop sponsor the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, and convening sponsors Family Housing Fund and Minnesota Housing Partnership. Slides and a link to view plenary session recordings are available on our website.

As I have noted previously, these are times of great challenge in terms of federal funding, and great opportunity when it comes to success with local funding initiatives and increased awareness of need. It is vital for the whole community development and affordable housing sector to understand how to communicate more effectively  and to avoid messages that actually backfire, working against our efforts to build more support.

One potential opportunity to communicate as a united field is an episode of PBS’s Frontline , jointly produced with NPR and airing May 9. The television and radio broadcasts will examine the significant challenges of housing affordability and the programs used to respond to those challenges. We anticipate a good opportunity to highlight the needs of working and vulnerable households across the country, paired with criticism of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the developers that use it.

National organizations are working diligently to prepare congressional supporters and key committee members for this program, but we also know that the story could gain traction at the local level. Our position, and the message we will share, is that working people should be able to afford to rent a decent place to live in a thriving community, but in too many places across our country that’s just not possible. Quality, affordable rental homes are scarce while wages are stuck in place. We need all the tools we can to tackle this scarcity, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit has brought decent homes at reasonable costs to millions of Americans.

You know your local media and can make the best decision about how to respond, but I want to make sure you are aware and prepared. The other big news is of course the recent FY 2017 budget agreement that keeps the government fully operational through September. Kaitlyn Snyder and Rebekah King have the details of what the agreement means for housing funding.

I want to call your attention to NHC’s 45th Annual Housing Visionary Award Gala on June 8 and Annual Policy Symposium on June 9 in Washington, D.C. This year NHC will honor former HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), along with Habitat for Humanity International and Rebuilding Together. Please visit our website for tickets and sponsorship opportunities. The Gala is NHC’s single annual fundraising event and is a tremendous opportunity to honor great work while networking with friends and colleagues. I hope to see you there! 

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