Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, May 9, 2018

CDBG-DR Action Plans

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) released the territory’s CDBG-DR Action Plan on May 3, 2018. The public comment period is open until May 17. VIHFA is holding three open forum sessions: May 9 in St. John, May 10 in St. Croix, and May 16 in St. Thomas. The Plan provides $72 million for housing (including $30 million for the housing authority) of the approximately $243-million in the first CDBG-DR total allocation.  With a heavier emphasis on infrastructure, economic development, and electrical grid projects, the second tranche is expected to designate more for unmet housing needs–although that is still to be determined.
  • Numerous groups, including NLIHC on behalf of the DHRC, submitted letters with comments and recommendations on Florida’s state action plan for $616 million in CDBG-DR funds. Many of these letters urge the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to make adjustments that ensure the lowest income households receive their fair share of resources. Read letters from 8 organizations and coalitions here.
  • Local groups in Puerto Rico as well as members of the DHRC signed on to a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing Secretary Fernando Gil-Enseñat, urging them to extend the public comment period for the CDBG-DR action plan and  hold additional public hearings. Mr. Gil-Enseñat responded with a letter detailing the efforts his agency has taken to include public input thus far, which he states more than fulfill requirements. He asserted that additional time for public comment would only further delay recovery efforts.
  • Forum in PR. Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing held an orientation and discussion session on May 8 regarding the allocation of CDBG-DR funds.
  • Comments on TX State Action Plan. Texas Housers submitted comments to Texas GLO regarding the state action plan for $5 billion in CDBG-DR funds. The recommendations include improving transparency, adjusting FEMA-verified loss thresholds, increasing affordable housing, and providing assistance for all families.
  • HUD Approves TX Plan. HUD has officially approved the Texas General Land Office’s action plan for the allocation of $57.8 million. These funds were part of previous allocations made in 2015 – 2016.

Federal Response

Congress

  • The House Financial Services Committee is expected to hold a hearing on a bill authorizing the CDBG-DR on May 17. Witnesses invited to speak include Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Heather Lagrone from the Texas General Land Office, a representative from the Houston Mayor’s office, Carlos Martin from Urban Institute, Adam Gordon from Fair Share Housing Center (New Jersey), and Marion McFadden from Enterprise Community Partners.
  • Senator Patty Murray introduced the “Rural Disaster Recovery Act of 2018” ( 2767), which includes a provision to create a new program to help communities recover when FEMA does not grant Individual Assistance (IA).  The proposed program would help with shelter, food, and other recovery services.

FEMA

  • FEMA has released a strategic plan for 2018 – 2022. The plan has three main goals: build a culture of preparedness; prepare the country for disasters; and reduce the complexity of FEMA. The public can submit general questions, comments, or feedback.
  • FEMA granted an unconditional extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for survivors of Hurricane Maria through June 30. FEMA will also offer transportation back to Puerto Rico for interested families participating in TSA on the continental U.S.
  • Landlords interested in renting to hurricane survivors in the U.S. Virgin Islands should sign up with FEMA’s Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program before June 1.
  • FEMA and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources will introduce an updated version of The Stronger Home Guide on May 16. This is the first update since 1996.

IRS

  • The IRS has provided guidance to help taxpayers better prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

 

Local Perspectives

  • D-SNAP in FL. Thousands of Floridians with disabilities were previously denied access to Hurricane Irma Disaster-SNAP benefits because they were unable to attend an in-person interview. A new settlement will allow these individuals to apply for benefits by participating in phone interviews. FL Department of Children and Families has contacted many of these individuals to alert them of their new eligibility.
  • Flood Maps in PR. The Puerto Rico Planning Board is requesting public comment on new FEMA flood maps. The maps will help Puerto Rico better implement mitigation techniques. The public can provide feedback regarding these maps either by email or in writing.

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico

  • Next meeting: May 15 at 3:00 PM EDT

Homelessness

  • Next meeting: May 29 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • Next meeting:  June 6 at 3:30 PM EDT

Policy

  • Next meeting: May 9, 12:30 EDT

In anticipation of the May 17th hearing in the Housing Financial Services Committee on CDBG-DR, the WG is putting together a few sample questions to share with Committee staff and DHRC members that will be testifying.


Read previous Disaster Housing Recovery updates at: http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Federal Response

Congress

  • The House passed the FAA Reauthorization Act (R. 4) on April 27 with a vote of 393 – 13. As previously noted, this bill includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which contains several important provisions: authorizes states to administer housing assistance using federal funding; allows greater flexibility for housing following a disaster; allows President to waive duplication of benefit restrictions; emphasizes mitigation; and increases the assistance available to people with disabilities.

FEMA

  • Through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, Puerto Rican agencies and municipalities have received over $2 billion, including a recent grant of $3.1 million to the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration for congregating sheltering.
  • In response to recent reports revealing flaws in FEMA’s approach to providing shelter and housing following the 2017 hurricanes, the agency posted a fact sheet with “Myths vs. Facts” about the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program (TSA). This included: “Myth: HUD’s Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) is necessary to address the housing needs of Puerto Rico survivors.”

Economic Development Administration

  • The EDA has published the FY2018 Disaster Supplemental Notice of Funding Opportunity, announcing $587 million in grant money for communities impacted by the 2017 disasters. Nonprofits and local governments are invited to submit grant applications based on development strategies that foster economic growth and resilience.  These will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Local Perspectives

  • Protests in PR. On May 1, International Workers’ Day, thousands of Puerto Ricans from across the island joined a general strike in opposition to school closings, tuition increases, and potential cuts to benefits. Many demonstrators expressed deep concerns that upcoming austerity measures would only prompt more Puerto Ricans to leave the island–making recovery more difficult. The largest demonstration took place in San Juan and ended with confrontations between police and a group of protestors.
  • Executive Order on Price Gouging in CA. California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order that prohibits price gouging in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties until December 4, 2108.
  • FL Data. Florida Housing has created a report, “Impacts to Housing in Florida from the 2017 Hurricanes,” which compiles data from a number of sources.
  • Recovery Concerns in TX. Texas Housers, Texas Appleseed, and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid held a press conference on April 27 to share their concerns about the most recent state action plan from the Texas General Land Office (GLO). The organizations asserted that the plan does not promote an equitable or inclusive recovery. The press conference can be found here.
  • New Grant in TX. The Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation and Enterprise Community Partners are joining together to create the Housing and Economic Assistance to Rebuild Texas program, which provides grants of up to $50,000 to local nonprofits as well as technical assistance. Grants are meant to help organizations provide home repairs and other housing assistance to low income households impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
  • Frontline on PR. With help from NPR, Frontline released a new episode on May 1 that investigates Puerto Rico’s current economic and humanitarian crises. In addition to the film, Frontline and NPR had additional stories on the response compared to other hurricanes and the economic situation prior to the hurricanes.
  • Informal Housing in PR. In an interview with Marketplace, Governor Ricardo Rosselló spoke about his hopes of “eradicating that informal housing component, start pushing folks into safe, formal [home] ownership.”

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico

  • Three affidavits accepted inconsistently by FEMA personnel in Puerto Rico when formal property titles are absent will be reviewed and refined by the WG, translated into English, and submitted to FEMA in Washington for approval and broader, a uniform application on the island.
  • Next meeting: May 15 at 3:00 PM EDT

Homelessness

  • The WG will further develop the Disaster Housing Recovery Stories tool for distribution among its respective organizational networks at upcoming conferences and other platforms.  The goal is to compile a robust set of challenges in recent disaster assistance programs to educate congressional members about the need for placing CDBG-DR in the statute.
  • Next meeting: May 29 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • The WG is preparing its pro bono counsel with specific requests of the FEMA Office of Chief Counsel as well as following up a meeting with FEMA Policy staff to continue the discussion about its wish list for data to be provided on Open FEMA.
  • Next meeting:  June 6 at 3:30 EDT

Policy

  • The WG formulated the letter to Senator Bill Nelson mentioned above.
  • Next meeting: May 8, 12:30 EDT

Read previous Disaster Housing Recovery updates at: http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Federal Response

FEMA

  • FEMA granted a blanket extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for approximately 1,700 survivors who were scheduled to lose their benefits. FEMA had determined that these families were no longer eligible for TSA, but the extension allows them to continue participating. The program is still set to expire for all participants on May 14.
  • FEMA also granted an extension for Hurricane Harvey survivors participating in TSA. Survivors are now expected to check out on June 1.
  • FEMA released a draft Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guide that is open for public comment through June 7, 2018. This is a policy resource for all Individual Assistance (IA) programs that FEMA administers.

CMS

Local Perspectives

  • Texans Pushed out of Hotels. Despite granting an extension for the TSA program through May 31, FEMA told about 1,400 people to check out of their hotel rooms by April 24. FEMA determined that certain areas have enough available rental units to reabsorb those who had been renting before the storm. Homeowners were allowed to stay. These households were given less than a week to vacate their hotel rooms
  • Failures in TX. Houston homeowners spoke out about their negative experiences with the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) program. The General Land Office (GLO) runs this FEMA-funded program that provides just enough repairs to make homes livable. Many homeowners were disappointed with the repairs, and both advocates and homeowners are unclear on the GLO’s criteria for the program.
  • Unequal Response in TX. Near Beaumont, TX, two neighborhoods have received different responses following the disaster. In a small, predominately white, middle-class town just outside the city, contractors were busy making repairs on houses. Many families had FEMA trailers, and signs provided helpful information regarding community resources.  On Pine Street, where predominately black residents live among empty lots where homes have been bought out from past floods, destroyed houses sat empty; and only one family had a FEMA trailer. More transparent data is necessary to better understand such discrepancies.
  • Struggling in the FL Keys. While tourism may have recovered in the Florida Keys, many residents have been left behind. Seven months after Hurricane Irma, families are still in improvised living conditions. Tourism is critical to the Keys’ economy, but low income workers are being priced out of the market. Building resilient homes is expensive, and coastal cities often avoid rebuilding affordable homes or public housing.
  • Health Outcomes in PR and USVI. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new report regarding health care issues in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands six months following Hurricane Maria.

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico

  • Next meeting: May 15 at 3:00 PM EDT

Homelessness

  • Next meeting: April 30 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • Next meeting:  First week of May TBA

Policy

  • The House has included several disaster provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (R. 4)–a must-pass bill. The House is expected to vote on the bill this week. While none of these address disaster housing issues, we are looking for opportunities to include such provisions in the Senate version.
  • Next meeting: May 1, 12:30 EDT

Read previous Disaster Housing Recovery updates at: http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, April 18, 2018

General

NLIHC has prepared a chart detailing CDBG-DR Allocations and the status of State Action Plans.

Federal Response

Congress

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) sent a letter on April 16 urging the Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to use CDBG-DR funds to help those struggling to find affordable housing. Florida DEO is responsible for preparing the State Action Plan but has not yet released a draft, which must be submitted to HUD by May 15. Senator Nelson asks DEO to use CDBG-DR funds to provide affordable housing options for low income households, particularly renters. “There needs to be an honest assessment of current and alternative affordable housing options in the state, with an eye toward ensuring supply can meet any future demand in the wake of a storm,” wrote Senator Nelson.

As shared on last week’s call, Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Jenniffer González Colón introduced the Housing Victims of Major Disaster Act (H.R. 5474). This bill would require FEMA and HUD to immediately stand up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to provide low income, displaced families with safe, decent, and affordable rental homes while they rebuild their lives. The bill also includes provisions expanding the documentation options FEMA will consider when approving housing assistance. This article–discussing the importance and context of the bill–also mentions the DHRC’s support of the proposed bill. 

HUD

HUD is holding several Disaster Recovery Grant Reporting system workshops in May. These sessions are specifically designed for Disaster Recovery grantees and provide an overview of performing key tasks.

Local Perspectives

Lessons from Ike in TX.  Nearly ten years following Hurricane Ike, the island town of Galveston has yet to use $76 million designated for rebuilding public housing. Under the Obama Administration, HUD eventually stepped in to calm fierce community and local government opposition, but the city has yet to build any public housing units. The struggles in this community can provide insight for post-Harvey recovery.

Puerto Ricans in PA. Displaced Puerto Ricans continue to struggle to find affordable housing on the mainland. An estimated 500 Puerto Ricans relocated to Lancaster, PA. Some are currently living in FEMA-funded hotels but know they could lose assistance as early as Friday, the next scheduled eligibility review. Even if a family member is working, the wages are often insufficient to afford a market-rate apartment.

Puerto Ricans in NY. FEMA has suspended TSA assistance for 86 households in New York City. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, 11 city councilmembers, 9 members of Congress, and community leaders signed a letter urging FEMA to reconsider its decision. FEMA found that these households no longer met eligibility requirements. City officials and community leaders are trying to provide assistance for these families and individuals.

Community Meetings in USVI. Governor Kenneth Mapp’s Hurricane Recovery and Resilience Task Force will be holding several community meetings in the coming weeks. The sessions provide overviews of the Emergency Home Repairs Program, which provides free temporary repairs, as well as progress reports.

Regulation Suspension in CA. California Governor Jerry Brown hopes to help provide housing for survivors of the recent mudslides and wildfires by removing certain regulatory barriers to mobile home construction and placement. This recent suspension applies to Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties in the southern part of the state. Governor Brown released a similar notice last year for affected counties in northern California.

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico

Adi Martinez, Directora Ejecutiva of Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia, will be a part of a small but broader group of disaster-recovery advocates who will speak by conference call with the FEMA Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) on April 19th.  She will raise the issue of FEMA’s inconsistent application of what’s required to establish owner occupancy, i.e., a written statement/official declaration does or does not have to be notarized. 

A select group of attorneys with prior experience on title issues from Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina will work with a probate estate attorney in PR to determine if FEMA’s affidavit decision in TX (or something similar) can be recognized in PR.  These will be presented to the FEMA OCC.

Once the PR state plan is released, the group will work together on a press conference/briefing to raise the collective concerns about any inequitable impact on the lowest income people.  The Puerto Rico Housing Department (Departamento de la Vivienda del Gobierno de Puerto Rico) created a new webpage for CDBG-DR, complete with a schedule for the State Action Plan—the draft of which is to be released on May 10, 2018.


Read previous Disaster Housing Recovery updates at: http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster

Blazing a new trail for housing justice: A Q&A with New York City’s Right to Counsel Coalition

By Isaiah Milbauer, NLIHC Field Intern

New York City eviction proceedings have long been a tale of the powerful versus the powerless. Historically, renters hardly ever receive legal representation in eviction court proceedings, but landlords almost always do. (And this is true in housing courts everywhere across the country!) As a direct result of tenants lacking legal representation, in New York City, thousands are evicted each year, allowing landlords to raise rents for the new renters who move-in to newly vacant homes. Due to complex and sometimes inaccessible legal barriers, marginalized families often are unable to challenge deplorable living conditions in court—even if, in the worst cases, low income children have been poisoned by lead exposure in their homes.

To remedy a major piece of this injustice, renters in New York City led by the Right to Counsel Coalition (RTC NYC) waged a 3-year campaign to institute a civil right to counsel for low income renters facing eviction. In 2017, RTC NYC’s organizing efforts led to the passage of Intro 214-B, which cleared the New York City Council and was signed into law by Mayor Bill DeBlasio. When fully implemented over the course of 5 years, the law will ensure that all income-eligible renters in New York City facing eviction are represented by attorneys. Currently, an estimated 400,000 renters would be eligible for protection under Intro 214-B. The law is anticipated to prevent 5,000 families per year from experiencing homelessness, and save the city $100 million annually, due to decreased homeless shelter costs. “This new law is a historic step forward in the fight against unlawful evictions,” said City Councilman Mark Levine, lead sponsor of Intro 214-B, at the law’s signing ceremony.

RTC-2

But the passage of Intro 214-B did not happen overnight. It required years of building tenant power and sustained community organizing. And it required the engaged leadership of low income tenants—especially those who had experienced evictions. One such story comes from Randy Dillard, a father of five from the South Bronx and a tenant leader at CASA, Community Action for Safe Apartments. Randy shared his story at NLIHC’s 2018 Housing Policy Forum: Building the Movement.

In 2013, Randy was hospitalized for two months with emphysema. He returned home to find eviction papers for rental nonpayment. Luckily, Randy found a legal clinic that defended him in housing court, which helped his family narrowly avoid becoming homeless. Randy became a CASA member following this experience with near-eviction.

Also in 2013, CASA and the Urban Justice Center released a report recommending reforms to New York’s housing court—including the right to counsel for New York renters facing eviction. RTC NYC formed soon after, in 2014, as a partnership of more than 100 tenant organizing groups, tenant advocates, academics, senior advocates, disability advocates, homeless advocates, labor unions and legal service providers, including CASA, to spearhead the passage of a right to counsel law. That proposal became known as Intro 214.

RTC NYC’s organizing efforts included a daylong forum, drawing crowds of close to 500 people, featuring speakers such as New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, New York City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks, and New York Law School Adjunct Professor Andrew Scherer. RTC NYC also collected thousands of signatures on petitions, received support from 42 community boards, got the backing of 100 faith leaders, received a New York Times editorial board endorsement, arranged numerous rallies and press conferences, and coordinated eight hours of City Council testimony.

NLIHC was honored to recognize RTC NYC’s organizing and accomplishments with the 2018 Trailblazer Award at the 2018 Housing Policy Forum: Building the Movement. We look forward to the benefit these accomplishments will bring to low income New Yorkers, and the positive ripple effect for movements elsewhere across the country taking inspiration from RTC NYC’s work.

-Isaiah Milbauer

Isaiah Milbauer: How did you recruit organizations to join RTC and incorporate the leadership of low income tenants?

Right to Counsel New York City Coalition: Well the leadership of tenants who are directly impacted by evictions was always central–the coalition really started that way.  So at every coalition meeting, where there were attorneys, paid staff, organizers, etc., there were always tenant leaders. We also had a decision-making structure that prioritized the organizing groups voices on issues where that was really necessary—so in terms of negotiating the legislation, or planning a press conference, etc., the organizing groups who are accountable to members took the lead on those decisions.  In terms of building the membership of the coalition, we built relationships with folks and we also knew that this isn’t a “tenant issue,” because our members are just tenants! They are seniors, workers, folks with disabilities, etc. And housing is such a central issue in NYC, that we knew a broad based coalition would be possible and we also knew it was necessary because of the fiscal impact of the legislation and because the Mayor and Speaker did not voice support for the legislation for the first few years—they agreed with the idea but said it was either too expensive or that it was the state’s responsibility.  Most people told us we would never win this—that it was so big, so expensive, such a sea change—it just couldn’t be done. So, centering the leadership of tenants who were fighting evictions kept us on track to say we can’t accept that and also pushed us to build a coalition with the power we needed to win.

IM: How did you build consensus on how to approach the issue of a right to counsel in eviction proceedings? How did you coordinate efforts between member organizations?

RTC NYC:  Honestly, that wasn’t hard.  Studies show that anywhere from 50-80% of tenants who are evicted today, wouldn’t be evicted if they had an attorneys.  That is thousands of families. thousands of workers. Many of whom end up in the shelter system. And many of whom are evicted from rent stabilized housing.  Not to mention that evictions are a precursor to suicide and incredibly traumatic. So, evictions are about power. The idea that we put people on the streets, as a solution to honoring landlords right to get rent, is unacceptable.  Now you have that on top of the fact that there are people who are on the street that the law should protect? That’s a really strong indicator of who and what we value in this country. So we really saw eviction defense as a part of the fight for housing to be a right.

But to answer your question, we had monthly coalition meetings and working groups that would meet in the context of those meetings, in break out groups.  That way different folks can participate at different levels but everyone can be a part of the larger work of the coalition. We met monthly, though there were times during the campaign, where we met every two weeks or more often if we needed to.  We did our best to make decisions by consensus, though recognizing that not all voices are equal as I mentioned earlier, and we also did different things like developing principles for the coalition that folks signed on to, had different levels of participation for members vs. supporters, etc.

IM: How will RTC NYC’s work continue through the implementation of Local Law 136?

RTC NYC: The administration committed to funding legal representation or attorneys but not organizers.  So while the city will do outreach and advertising, it didn’t fund community based groups to do outreach and organizing.  And because of our work, we know that you can’t address power and inequality with outreach and advertising. You need to build relationships and confront power and isolation with the community and collective power.  So, we are working to coordinate the organizing efforts in every neighborhood that has RTC, so that folks know they aren’t alone when landlords threaten them for “lawyering up,” and also that they know other tenants who have decided to fight, and that they know they are worthy of fighting.  There is a lot of shame in evictions—and we have to confront that. Also, we have to fight evictions, collectively, as a political issue. There are landlords who sue everyone when they buy a building as a business practice, threaten everyone with calling ICE, etc.—so we are working with community groups to really strategize about organizing to claim the power of eviction defense and also to use it to build other organizing strategies.  We are also working on the court based implementation—everything about how the court works is changing. We are working on helping to develop a pipeline of movement attorneys to do this work and we are actively working with cities throughout the country who also see eviction defense as a tool in fighting displacement, gentrification and for community control and community power.

IM: Who were the unspoken heroes of this campaign?

RTC NYC: Something we were always mindful of during the campaign was that people were being evicted every day. Deciding to fight is also deciding to take a risk—and without RTC so many people took that risk.  Many lost and many won. All of them are heroes. And all of the tenants today who are deciding to fight to stay and to build this city are heroes.

IM: What’s next for RTC NYC? Does the coalition plan to tackle right to counsel in other metro NYC jurisdictions? Will you turn your attention to other housing justice issues in the city?

RTC NYC: Definitely–when we are asked to! We want to be a resource to organizing groups in other cities who want to have the right to an eviction defense.  So when cities reach out to us, we are happy to share everything we have because we know that oppositions actions and narratives are often similar. We know the context in other cities is different but we think that if we can do this is the real estate capital of the world, the place where it’s most expensive to do it, we can do it anywhere.  We are really excited to be collaborating with the San Francisco Tenants Union, who has RTC on the ballot and the Homes for All Campaign in Newark, who recently got an endorsement of RTC from Newark’s Mayor. Really exciting! In addition to those cities, we are talking to folks and sharing information in about a dozen more cities. We just created a new civil right—that shouldn’t be exclusive to NYC.  To help support that work, we are working on raising funds to create a campaign toolkit and a documentary about our campaign, that hopefully will be good resources for folks in other cities. And of course, RTC isn’t the only housing issue we work on! Many members of the coalition work on strengthen the rent laws, fully funding public housing, creating community land trusts, etc. The work doesn’t end with eviction defense of course–we have to address the underlying causes that create the system of housing as we know it today.

IM: What advice do you have for organizers and coalitions in other parts of the country advocating for citywide solutions to housing injustices?

RTC NYC: Demand the impossible!! Often we lose because we accept compromise, thinking it’s all we can get.  We have to demand what we deserve and what we need. And then build the power to win it. It might mean we lose along the way, but as long as we are building power as we move along, we can do anything.  I also think that now is a critical moment in our history where the crisis is so deep, that we have to offer solutions and alternatives and I think they have to be solutions that don’t just demand more from the private market but that question the market’s ability to deliver needs, like housing.  There are no great solutions coming from anywhere other than from us.


This post is part of a series featuring interviews with 2018 NLIHC Organizing Awards winners and top nominees.