NLIHC members and friends celebrate passage of National Housing Trust Fund legislation, November 2008.

Washington, D.C. is full of membership organizations, associations and the like. Type “national association Washington, DC” into Google and you’ll find 54.7 million results. Governors, social workers, restaurants, manufacturers, Realtors… the list goes on. Membership means power for groups in the nation’s capitol.

But does it mean power for members? At the National Low Income Housing Coalition, it most certainly does. Public education is one of our top three objectives, and we work hard to educate our members about the policy-making process, as well as housing policy itself. We believe education can empower our members and help them become stronger advocates.

We also engage our members in organizational decision-making. This goes beyond just allowing members to vote on a slate of candidates for the Board of Directors (though we do that, too). We actually invite our members to serve on our Policy Committees. These four committees- Resident Issues, Housing Production, Saving Housing Resources, and Housing Plus Services- meet regularly to give NLIHC staff and board members vital input on policy positions, and guide the development of our Annual Housing Policy Conference each year. Being a member of NLIHC means truly having the opportunity to shape our priorities and how we do our work.

Finally, NLIHC makes a concerted effort not just to represent the needs of low income people, but to engage low income people as members and advocates so they can speak for themselves. We offer a $3 membership rate for those who self-identify as low income individuals. Students can join at this rate as well. Building a broad base of educated, empowered advocates is just that important to us.

The decline in civic engagement in our country is well-documented. But in communities across the U.S., housing problems persist, and finding solutions requires that many individuals raise their voices as one. If you want to see the shortage of housing affordable to extremely low income people finally put to an end, you must take action. Joining NLIHC means becoming part of something important to your own community, and to our nation as a whole. Learn more about the benefits of membership, and join us today.