In the third interview as a part of our ongoing series of conversations with the senior members of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), this week we will talk to Anne M. Williams, Housing Director of St Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Inc, Eugene, OR, about her affiliation with the NLIHC. Since September is our National Membership Month, we asked Anne why she joined NLIHC, how she benefits from her membership and why others should also join NLIHC. A member of NLIHC since 2008, Anne counted the numerous benefits of being a part of NLIHC and how it helps her work as an advocate for affordable housing.
Why are you a member of the National Low Income Housing Coalition?
NLIHC’s membership gives our agency valuable data which we use for funding applications. It gives us a more powerful voice in advocacy on the federal level, and provides us with data to educate our Board and the Housing Board, church groups and other community forums. We also often refer folks to NLIHC’s web site for data.
How did you first get involved in affordable housing?
I worked for a small non-profit in Northern California, and began to see a dramatic increase in homelessness among families. I began my first housing project in 1985 to help address this need; then my husband was transferred to Oregon, and I deliberately looked for work with an agency that developed affordable housing. Since then, I have been doing this work.
What do you find most challenging about affordable housing advocacy?
The most frustrating /challenging thing for me is the total lack of understanding about the crisis in affordable housing is the federal divestment currently underway. This is where I came into this movie in the late 80’s. Divestment lead to rapid rise in homelessness. Why should Congress make this mistake again?
What is your best advice for housing advocates?
Personal contacts! We are on a first name basis with our Oregon delegation and they have gained a real understanding about housing development issues and resources.
What is your favorite thing about being a member of NLIHC?
Research done for me! Beyond Reach.
What does “home” mean to you?
Home for me is the place where I am safe and secure and where I have a nurturing neighborhood of friends…where I can walk to the services I need, and where my housing cost-burden is 4% of my income!
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a member of NLIHC?/ Why should someone join NLIHC?
The voice of many is far greater than the voice of one.
Describe a time when you have used NLIHC research.
We use NLIHC data in all our housing development application. When defining need, I’d like to start national, and narrow down to local. Out of Reach provides us with an Oregon perspective and poverty data help us to establish trends.
Describe a time when you took action as a result of a Call to Action (CTA) from NLIHC.
I respond to most action alerts, but am particularly concerned about HOME and the budget caps.
Describe a time when you were helped by a member of NLIHC staff.
We use data and advocacy alerts. We have never sought direct assistance. We are a 57-year old agency and have a housing development staff with combined experience of over 60 years, and do not use consultants for any projects except those involving New Market Tax Credits.
What do you wish other people knew about NLIHC?
Excellent source for data, advocacy and analysis.
Anne can be contacted at: email@example.com
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