Persistence Helps IL State Partner in Tough News Cycle

Today, Bob Palmer, Policy Director of Housing Action Illinois, gets real about what it’s been like to release Out of Reach 2011 at a time when  a lot of other important news stories are capturing the public’s attention. The takeaway: with creativity and persistence, you can earn coverage in just about any news cycle.

With the death of Osama bin Laden the night before, Rod Blagojevich’s retrial on corruption charges getting underway and some southern parts of the state near the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers underwater due to flooding, it was admittedly a tough day to get any press coverage in Illinois for the release of Out of Reach 2011.  We’re still working on it, however!  In fact, a downstate daily newspaper will soon be publishing an article on housing affordability that will include the Out of Reach data.  I spoke to the reporter just yesterday about how the destruction of housing due to the flooding could conceivably negatively impact housing affordability in the future.

In Housing Action Illinois’ years of co-releasing Out of Reach with NLIHC, that’s how it’s gone.  Some years we get quite a bit of coverage and other years less so.  That we continue to do it every year is so important, because consistent and repetitive messaging helps build momentum for our advocacy work.

This year the Housing Wage in Illinois is $17.38,   In Illinois, among metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, the lowest Housing Wage for a two-bedroom apartment is $11.13, in the metro-east Bond County metropolitan area. The highest housing wage for a two-bedroom apartment is $19.54 in the Chicago metropolitan area.  An estimated 56% of renters in Illinois do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit.  You can read our press release here: http://www.housingactionil.org/news-alerts/index.html#OOR.

Like others from around the country, we’ll be using data from Out of Reach throughout the year for everything from our advocacy materials for our legislative and budget work, public education presentations and grant applications. We use lots of data in our work, but the housing wage is undoubtedly the one statistic we cite most often to make the case for the need to create and preserve affordable housing.

What has your organization learned about getting press in a busy news cycle? Tell us in the comments!

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