2017 Organizing Award Nominees Series

Community Outreach Housing, Making Strides Towards Reducing Housing Poverty in Texas

By Sarah Jemison, Housing Advocacy Organizer


Community Outreach Housing (COH) leaders, Tamra and Darrell Gardner, were nominated for this year’s 2017 Organizer Award because of their selfless and extensive work in bringing affordable and decent housing to the low income residents of Stephenville, Texas.

COH’s main goal is to provide stable and affordable homes to low income residents of Stephenville and organizers Tamra and Darrell are leading the way. The organization’s work centers on managing below market rate housing for low income residents of Stephenville, where the median family income is $34,501. COH maintains single family rental homes in mixed income neighborhoods zoned for high performing schools. Thus, residents of COH have access to quality education in less segregated neighborhoods. Currently, COH operates 17 rental homes and has plans to double that number in the near future, expanding critically lacking affordable housing to some of Stephenville’s most vulnerable residents.

In addition to their rental homes, COH also organizes service projects to improve the homes of community members in need, including seniors, veterans, students, and low income families. Recruiting volunteers and in-kind donations from local suppliers, COH was able to complete renovations on 7 homes during 2016, expanding decent and affordable housing in the community.

The community member who nominated Tamra and Darrell described them as “generous, humble and truly kind…giving back to the community instead of profiting themselves.” Their work expands access to quality, affordable housing while raising awareness for the need for further investment in the community.

To learn more about COH’s ongoing work to achieve expanded mixed-income housing in areas of opportunity, visit their website at: http://www.coh3436.org/

Mr. President, Our Communities Cannot Afford Further Cuts to HUD

By Elayne Weiss, Senior Policy Analyst

“Every action I take, I will ask myself: does this make life better for young Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson who have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America?” Those were words stated by then-candidate Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Well, Mr. President, your administration’s proposal to cut HUD’s budget by $7.7 billion will do anything but that.

While President Donald Trump is expected to send Congress a high-level budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 next week, an overview of early drafts by the Washington Post shows the severity of cuts under consideration. Multiple sources confirm that the administration could slash HUD’s budget by as much as $7.7 billion from FY17 funding levels, a 16% cut.

Specifically, the leaked HUD budget would:

  • Cut funding for public housing repairs by $1.3 billion or 68%.
  • Cut funding for Housing Choice Vouchers by $980 million, adjusted for inflation. Such a cut translates to 200,000 vouchers lost.
  • Cut funding that would result in approximately 10,000 homes for seniors and 6,000 homes for people with disabilities being lost.
  • Cut funding for Native American communities—that have some of the worst housing and most dire housing needs in America—by a 25% or $150 million.
  • Eliminate the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME), the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Self-Help Housing Opportunity Program (SHOP).


With a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in the country, these cuts are not only unacceptable—they are downright dangerous. Such cuts would likely lead to more families facing eviction and living on the streets instead of having a warm, stable and affordable home—a place where their children can play and do their homework, where seniors can live out their golden years, or where people with disabilities don’t have to worry about accessibility issues.

In the Chicago metro area, the city Mr. Trump often speaks of, there is a shortage of 264,000 homes that are affordable and available to the lowest income renters. That means for every 100 extremely low income renter households, there are only 26 homes that are affordable and available to them. Seventy-six percent of these lowest income renters in Chicago spend more than half of their income on rent, leaving them one emergency away from homelessness.

The proposed cuts would seriously exacerbate this shortage. They would allow public housing properties, which are chronically underfunded, to fall further into disrepair, putting at risk the homes of more than 1 million residents who are often elderly, have a disability, or both.

People who could lose the rental assistance they receive from HUD, like Housing Choice Vouchers, would have to pay even more of their limited income on rent. As a result, they would have fewer resources to spend on other basic essentials, like food, healthcare, and education—the very things that help kids reach their full potential.

And by eliminating block grant resources for community development and housing production, the Trump budget would undermine the ability for states and communities to invest in their communities, address their housing shortage, and meet other pressing needs.

So again, how does a $7.7 billion cut to the HUD, which has lifted four million people out of poverty—including 1.5 million children—make life better for kids growing up in Chicago or any other community in the U.S.?

If anything, we should be increasing federal investments in affordable housing.

Such investments provide families and communities with the resources they need to thrive. Access to affordable housing has wide-ranging, positive impacts. Evidence-based research has shown that when families have stable, decent, and accessible homes that they can afford, they are better able to find employment, achieve economic mobility, perform better in school, and maintain improved health. Increasing and preserving access to affordable housing in areas of opportunity helps families climb the economic ladder, leading to greater community development and bolstering economic productivity and job creation.

In contrast, evidence has also shown that people, especially children, experience poor outcomes in many areas of their lives when they experience homelessness and housing instability.

It’s time for advocates to speak out against these cuts by contacting their members of Congress. Tell your lawmakers any further cuts to HUD are unacceptable and will hurt the very people they represent.

The NLIHC-led Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) will be hosting a webinar on March 20 to discuss the proposed budget cuts and ways to effectively engage lawmakers.  We hope you’ll join!

Join Organizations Across the Nation To Make Housing an Election Issue!

The conventions are over. Candidates up and down the ballot are out on the campaign trail making promises and asking for votes.

Let’s join forces to make sure that affordable housing is on their agenda.

Please join NLIHC, Make Room, and organizations across the nation to send 1 million messages to Congress to get housing affordability on the agenda by Election Day.

Here are three ways you can support the campaign:

  1. Join us. Sign your organization onto the national letter or sign up as an individual.
  1. Raise the profile of affordable housing issues locally. The Make Room Advocacy Toolkit includes sample letters to the editor, emails and e-newsletters, social media messages and website promos, and questions to ask members of Congress at town hall meetings. It also features best practices for meeting with your elected officials one-on-one or inviting them to tour affordable housing developments.
  1. Spread the word. Encourage other national, state, and local organizations, elected officials, and advocates who believe that housing is a critical resource for our communities to join the campaign.

Our nation is facing a housing affordability crisis of record proportions. Too many Americans cannot make rent, and Congress has done little to ease this growing burden.

Every day until Election Day, together let’s deliver one clear message to Congress: Americans cannot afford places to live and need help.

Please join us! We cannot achieve our ambitious goal of 1 million messages without you.


Join Evicted Author Matthew Desmond for the Make Room National Campaign Launch

desmond_matthewMake Room—in partnership with NLIHC and other national leaders—is launching an exciting national campaign to send 1 million messages to Congress about the critical need to end housing insecurity in America. Through the November elections, national, state, and local organizations will share a common message: our nation is facing a housing affordability crisis of record proportions that demands Congressional leadership.

Join Us!

Campaign Kickoff Call
Special Guest: Matthew Desmond,
Author of 
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Monday, August 1, 2016
4:00 PM EST


All organizations and advocates are invited to join the campaign kickoff call to learn more about how to get involved. Please share this information widely.

MakeRoomMake Room is a partnership between Enterprise Community Partners, MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, CohnReznick LLP, and others to give voice to struggling renters and elevate rental housing on the agendas of our nation’s leaders. For more details about Make Room and the campaign, see Make Room’s website.


Caps Hurt Communities Campaign

xx2As part of the Caps Hurt Communities Campaign, we are asking all advocates on Twitter to use the power of social media to tell Congress to protect homes, families, and communities by lifting the federal sequester caps.

From July 27 – July 31,  please use #CapsHurt in your Tweets that call attention to ending federal sequester caps.  Please consider using the following sample tweets:

  • LIFT the unfair budget caps and END the sequester cuts for a stronger and more prosperous America.  #CapsHurt http://bit.ly/1DhlV7e
  • Families thrive because of housing&community development investments. #Congress should increase #AffordableHousing resources. #CapsHurt
  • America is stronger and prosperous when we have decent, affordable homes & stable communities. #CapsHurt http://bit.ly/1DhlV7e
  • Congress must lift spending caps& increase resources to protect #affordablehousing for low income families and communities. #CapsHurt

Caps Hurt Communities is an advocacy campaign to build a movement of individuals and organizations committed to bringing an end to federal sequester caps. It is being coordinated at the national level by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), a coalition of national organizations dedicated to adequate federal housing and community development funding for lower income families and communities.

For additional information regarding this campaign, please visit www.capshurtcommunities.org where you can join the campaign and receive updates. Advocates are also encouraged to contact NLIHC’s Field Team at outreach@nlihc.org for more information and assistance with advocacy efforts.

Click here to join the campaign