More Reflections from the Road…

NLIHC staff have been on the road a lot, connecting with advocates and educating new audiences on the United for Homes campaign to fund the National Housing Trust Fund. We set out to help more people get involved, but as it often happens, we got just as much out of the trips by connecting with passionate advocates.

 Here are some reflections from Outreach Associate Joseph Lindstrom, who accompanied NLIHC President Sheila Crowley on a road trip to Michigan earlier this month:

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I returned from Michigan deeply impressed by the number of people who took time out of their day to get involved with United for Homes. It was also great to see that people from the various communities clearly understood mortgage interest deduction reform and the need for the National Housing Trust Fund. It has been said that reforming the mortgage interest deduction is a complex issue and can be confusing to explain, but everywhere we went the questions had less to do with the intricacies of the proposal and more to do with how people can help. It was inspiring to see how many people were ready to take action.

We were happy to tell new advocates how they can make an impact, and many times our current endorsers in Michigan were able to coordinate efforts with new allies. Just by participating in the events and showing overwhelming community interest in housing policy, attendees were advancing United for Homes.

Connecting with people throughout the country will continue to be important as the campaign builds momentum. I am grateful to have had this experience, and look forward to expanding on our success for future events. I learned a few new things about planning events, a few new things about generating support, and a whole lot about the wonderful advocates in Michigan.

View more pictures from Joe and Sheila’s Michigan road trip on the United for Homes Facebook page.

Last week, our State Coalition Project Director La’Teashia Sykes trekked all the way to Alaska! Here are reflections from La’Teashia on her trip:

Last week, I had the opportunity to present the United for Homes proposal at the conference of the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, an NLIHC State Partner. Service providers and advocates from across the state came together to share strategies and discuss solutions for the state’s housing and homeless crisis. Not only were attendees clearly eager for change; people were excited to hear about how the United for Homes proposal could bring that change.

Like every other state in the country, Alaska struggles with affordable housing issues – further perpetuating homelessness in the state. Alaska is a unique state in many ways, but its sub-zero harsh winters set it apart from most U.S. states. No one should be without a safe and decent home at any point, period. But, with Alaska’s housing shortage at 12,329 for people with the lowest incomes in the state, many have no choice but to brave the cold when the shelters are too full or when they have reached their maximum days of stay.

“Living in your car? That doesn’t work! It’s like an ice box,” a formerly homeless man shared with conference attendees. He also mentioned that some purposefully cycle through the criminal system just to stay sheltered, warm, and fed during winter months. Now that he is in a permanent home, he does not have to worry about his limited food and water supply freezing over in his tent. In warmer months, he no longer fears bears or other wild animals ravaging his makeshift shelter in search of food.

Organizations like Catholic Social Services Anchorage and Beans Café are doing what they can to help people that do not have a place to call home. However, the needs are growing and the burdens on the shelter systems are heavy. With cuts to federal programs that serve those with the greatest needs, the burden will unfortunately continue to expand. I met with staff of NeighborWorks Anchorage, one of the organizations providing affordable rental housing. They discussed the need for funds to build housing affordable to poor families. With Alaska being a small population state, it gets a smaller allocation of federal funds for programs like HOME and CDBG– and it’s just not enough to produce housing for all in need of a home.

I learned many things during my trip, but what sticks out the most is that advocates and providers in Alaska care deeply about the people they serve, and because of that they work collaboratively to maximize and strengthen services for citizens in need. They are also hungry for real solutions to end the housing and homeless crisis. After my presentation of the United for Homes proposal, people asked detailed questions about the flexibility of the National Housing Trust Fund and how the proposal would affect Alaska. People were excited to see how much money Alaska could receive to build and preserve homes for those who need help the most if the National Housing Trust Fund is funded.

Other questions followed, but the best question I received from multiple people was: What can I do to advance United for Homes?

You might have guessed it, but one easy way advocates can advance United for Homes is by hosting a campaign event! NLIHC staff can help put together anything from a town hall meeting to a presentation for your board or a conference workshop. We are also happy to provide a state-specific PowerPoint presentation or coordinate a webinar.

After all, when it comes to engaging more people with the United for Homes campaign, we are happy to go to great lengths.

To find out more about hosting a campaign event, email outreach@nlihc.org.

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