Membership Monday: NLIHC Publications for Every Type of Advocate!

Over the past 40 years, NLIHC’s robust network of organizational and individual members has sustained our efforts not just through financial support, but by building our far reaching advocacy base. We are proud that our growing field of members reflects the broad range of advocates working on housing issues in communities across the country. NLIHC produces a wide range of publications to serve the advocacy needs of our diverse and dedicated members. There are so many reasons to become a member of NLIHC, and one of them is the early access to our publications at free or discounted rates!

For everyone from the beginner advocate to the expert in need of quickly looking up information, there is the go-to Advocates’ Guide to Housing and Community Development Programs.

The Advocates’ Guide includes the history and summary of key housing issues and programs, forecasts for 2014, tips for local success, what to say to legislators, and much more! Members can learn about every major housing and community development topic from Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing to the newly updated Voterization tools. The Advocates’ Guide helps equip NLIHC members with the resources you need to be effective advocates at home in your communities and on the national level.

New member: FREE!
Discounted member rate: $25 (+ shipping)

For the policy tracker, there is no better source for current housing news than Memo to Members.

NLIHC members receive Memo to Members directly in their inbox or mailbox every Monday. Our acclaimed weekly newsletter keeps advocates up to date on the latest federal housing policy, research, and other news such as public webinars and reports from our field.

New and current members: FREE!

For members of low income renter communities, Tenant Talk is made specifically to be shared with your friends, family, and neighbors!

This quarterly newsletter is for tenants, residents, and other low income renters. Created to engage low income people in housing advocacy, Tenant Talk connects with residents on the housing policy issues affecting their lives such as source of income discrimination, voterization, and protecting tenants at foreclosure.

New and current members: FREE!

For the state and local advocates, our annual flagship report Out of Reach provides powerful data on the affordable housing crisis.

Out of Reach reveals a key indicator: the Housing Wage, which is the wage one must earn in order to afford a modest rental home in communities across the country. Advocates can use this information to show Members of Congress, state legislators, and local elected officials the great need for affordable housing and its impact on the daily lives of their constituents.

Discounted member rate: $10 for the abridged version with state-specific data; $25 for the full report (+ shipping)

Join NLIHC today at www.nlihc.org/membership! Please contact our Field Team at outreach@nlihc.org with questions or comments. To order a publication, please email creyes@nlihc.org.

And stay tuned to the blog this summer to learn more about these and other publications in upcoming Project Spotlights!

Take Part in Our Voterization Project!

The right to vote is not expressly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Rather, voting rights have been handled at the state level with amendments to the U.S. Constitution seeking to prevent discrimination. The struggle for these amendments and universal suffrage informs a significant part of our civil rights history.   

African American men were only granted the right to vote by the 15th Amendment in 1870 and women didn’t get the right to vote until the 19th Amendment in 1920. Even then, many African Americans weren’t actually able to exercise their voting rights until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Because of property ownership requirements, tenants didn’t even gain the right to vote in most states until well into the 19th Century.

Unfortunately, the struggle for voting rights isn’t just an historical issue. Today, certain people’s ability to vote is being challenged across the country. In June of 2013, a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was struck down by the Supreme Court. The removal of this provision will make it more difficult to prevent discriminatory changes to state and local voting laws. To counteract this, advocates should support the Voting Rights Amendments Act of 2014.   

There are also concerted efforts to suppress voting at the state and local levels. The most well-known of these efforts are photo ID laws enacted under the pretense of preventing voter fraud, a problem that is virtually non-existent. Essentially, photo ID laws serve as a de facto poll tax. However, voter suppression can take many other forms including:

  • Targeting specific communities with misinformation (e.g., leafleting with incorrect dates for elections).
  • Attempting to curtail opportunities for early or absentee voting.
  • Reducing the number of or relocating poll places to make it more difficult for certain communities to vote.
  • Challenging the registration status of voters at the polls (i.e., “voter caging”).

Voter suppression directly and disproportionately impacts renters. Many renters are low income, members of racial or ethnic minorities, students, senior citizens, or persons with disabilities. Voter suppression efforts have intentionally made it much harder for these groups to cast a ballot. In short, it has become harder for many renters to vote. If the renter vote is suppressed, issues facing renters will not be addressed by elected officials.

For this reason, NLIHC is strengthening our Voterization work in 2014! Voter turnout among low income people will play a crucial role in the outcome of the 2014 elections. There are 36 senators and 36 governors up for election this year along with the entire House of Representatives.This election is a chance for housing advocates and service providers to change the debate!

GET INVOLVED

1. Join NLIHC for our first 2014 Voterization webinar TODAY!

Voter Registration and the Challenge of Voter Suppression
Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm ET
Click here to register!

2. Use NLIHC’s 2014 Voterization Plan, created to help organizations engage renters in voting.

The materials will take your organization through the three step process of voterization: registration, education, and mobilization. Click here to view the 2014 Voterization Plan and Narrative!

For more information on NLIHC’s Voterization project, please contact our Field Team at 202-662-1530 or outreach@nlihc.org.

This post included an excerpt from NLIHC’s 2014 Advocates’ Guide to Housing and Community Development Programs. Join NLIHC at www.nlihc.org/membership to receive a FREE copy! Members receive discounted rates on the publication. Email creyes@nlihc.org to order your copy today.

NLIHC Policy Team: What We Do

The Coalition’s Policy team keeps on top of our policy agenda, making sure that Congress understands what our priorities are and how only actions they take can make our agenda a reality.

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The Policy team tracks every bill that is introduced in Congress and pays attention to each bill that intersects with our mission to achieve socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.

We hold meetings with congressional staff, hold briefings for staff, attend hearings, and weigh in with offices when it is time for them to take action by developing amendments or bills, or determining how they will vote.

In addition to our policy agenda playing out on Capitol Hill, we are also interested in how the executive branch, namely HUD, USDA, Treasury, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, are using their powers and funding to address the nation’s lowest income households.  We comment on rules, suggest notices and guidance that agencies might offer, and urge strict oversight of programs so Congress only has reason to fund them, not decrease funding for them.

We also collaborate with our Field team a lot. This way, our organizers can reach out to ask our network to weigh in when we think it will be most effective, which is always!

In short, the Policy team believes that federal housing policy and resources are the key way to solving our most pressing housing needs.

Guest Blog: How Utah advocates used Out of Reach data to support legislation for raising the state minimum wage

Guest post by Barbara Stallone, Director of Policy and Public Relations, Utah Housing Coalition

The Republican heavy legislature of Utah is not usually an arena that would be considered friendly to a conversation about the need for a living wage. However, during the recently ended 2014 legislative session, HB 73 Living Wage Amendments were sponsored by Representative Lynn Hemingway. The bill would have increased minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.25 in Utah and mandated additional increases every two years tied to the Consumer Price Index. Representative Hemingway defined a living wage as one that “pulls people out of poverty.” While the last several bills regarding minimum wage increases have failed, this bill had a robust debate and has been returned to the Health and Human Services committee for additional study during interim.

The Utah Housing Coalition (UHC) was able to use Out of Reach data in several ways to further this conversation. First, when the sponsor introduced the bill, UHC approached him and asked if he was interested in numbers that would support the need for an increased wage. He was thrilled to have the numbers readily available to support his contention that Utah needs to adjust wages to make housing more attainable for a greater number of people. We handed him the Utah specific page of the Out of Reach report. He used the data from that page to craft his initial testimony on the bill.

Secondly, to add emphasis to his initial testimony, UHC prepared individualized reports for each committee member with regard to the numbers specific to their respective district. This data helped to drive home the point that there are those living on the edge of housing stability in their own districts. Tara Rollins, Executive Director of Utah Housing Coalition, explained, “The importance of pay in relation to the ability to maintain housing cannot be understated. We need wages that will allow people to pay for their housing and we need rents at a level that people can pay.”

With this session safely behind us, the Utah Housing Coalition will continue to share the Out of Reach data with legislators, and will be meeting with local and county elected officials to reinforce the data throughout the summer.

State-specific Out of Reach 2014 data can be found online at www.nlihc.org/oor/2014.

Celebrating a Housing Champion!

One of the basic principles of housing policy is the “Brooke rule.”

The Brooke rule defines housing as affordable only when assisted households use no more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. “Brooke rents” are a critical part to ensuring housing programs fairly serve the lowest income populations and have largely shaped affordable housing policy.

So who is the person behind the “Brooke rule”?

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Senator Edward W. Brooke, III

We bring this up because last Saturday marked the 94th birthday of Senator Edward W. Brooke, III!

Senator Brooke is one of the nation’s most notable and beloved low income housing champions, a loyal supporter of NLIHC, and now the oldest living U.S. Senator.

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Senator Brooke spoke of his friend, Cushing Dolbeare, following her death in 2005. Pictured here with NLIHC President Sheila Crowley.

Senator Brooke was chair of the National Low Income Housing Coalition in the early 1980s and was a dear friend of NLIHC founder the late Cushing N. Dolbeare. Senator Brooke continues to support NLIHC’s work as the honorary chair of United for Homes, the campaign to fund the National Housing Trust Fund through modifications to the mortgage interest deduction.

Born on October 26, 1919 the grandson of a former slave, Senator Brooke went on to be the first African-American Senator since Reconstruction and the first African-American to be elected a state Attorney General. The Massachusetts Republican served in the U.S. Senate from 1967 to 1979, where he was a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and was able to tackle low income housing, one of his signature issues.

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Senator Brooke being presented the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009, the highest award Congress has to honor civilians for achievements and contributions to society.

Among housing advocates, Senator Brooke is best known for championing the 1968 Fair Housing Act and for his 1969 amendment to the Housing Act of 1937, now called the Brooke Amendment or Brooke Rule. The principle of limiting the housing ‘burden’ of very low income renters survives in statute and continues to be regarded as a key principle in affordable housing policy today.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson signing into law the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Senator Brooke stands in the middle.

After awarding Senator Brooke with its annual housing leadership award, NLIHC renamed the award after the former Senator. Every year, NLIHC awards a current housing leader with the Edward W. Brooke, III Housing Leadership Award. At the 32nd Housing Leadership Awards Reception, to be held on April 29, 2014, another leader be honored with this special award, joining the ranks of past recipients Senator Olympia Snowe (2013), Senator Patty Murray (2012), Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness (2011), Representative Keith Ellison (2010), and Representative John Kerry (2010).

NLIHC wishes Senator Brooke a Happy Birthday, and thanks him for his years of service and partnership!