NLIHC’s Advocacy Guide for the Election Season

nlihc-2016_issues-guideOver the next few months, affordable housing and community development organizations have an opportunity to influence a number of critical issues before Congress and to help break through the noise of the Presidential campaigns to make affordable housing an election issue.

This summer and fall, Congress will be in their home districts and states between August 1 and September 6 and again between October 10 and November 11.

To help advocates make full use of this time, NLIHC has created a Summer/Fall 2016 Advocacy Guide, outlining the five key ways organizations can take action between now and the November elections to advocate for the issues that are most important to their mission, the people they serve, and their community.

The Advocacy Guide covers ways organizations can help:

  • Increase federal spending on key federal housing programs;
  • Expand and improve the Low Income Housing Tax Credit;
  • Ensure that housing needs are addressed in criminal justice reform;
  • Support the Make Room campaign—an initiative to demand that Congress make affordable housing a top priority; and
  • Use NLIHC Voterization resources to engage voters and candidates.

For more information and best practices on how nonprofit organizations and individuals can lobby their elected officials, see Lobbying: Individual and 501(c)(3) Organizations in NLIHC’s 2016 Advocates’ Guide.

Together, these resources can help advocates make their voices heard and build strong relationships with their Members of Congress.

Our Favorite Accomplishments of 2012

We emailed our supporters last week to do a little bragging about what we’ve been up to this year. This has been such a busy year for the National Low Income Housing Coalition that we couldn’t fit all our work into one email! Instead, we thought we’d share some of our staff’s other favorite 2012 accomplishments here on our blog.

National Housing Preservation Database

Project-based housing is a crucial part of our national strategy to prevent and end homelessness. But some of this housing is at risk of leaving the affordable inventory for a variety of reasons. Preserving this housing is good policy; it is a cost-effective way to invest in our communities.

The National Housing Preservation Database is a powerful new tool for preserving America’s affordable rental housing. The database provides communities with the information they need to effectively preserve their stock of public and assisted housing. It is part of NLIHC’s longstanding, data-driven effort help preserve this vital supply of affordable rental homes.

State Housing Profiles

We’ve always provided housing advocates with Congressional district-level information on the housing need in their communities. This year, NLIHC launched our State Housing Profiles, which provide key information about the housing available to extremely low income people, and the need for that housing, in each state. This information is perfect to use when advocating with your Senators, as well as with state legislators and your governor.

2011 Annual Report

Our 2011 annual report, Dedication, tells the story of NLIHC’s dedication to leadership, empowerment, analysis, and collaboration, and to our members and other supporters, using the new color scheme, logo and icons developed in concert with our new website.

Renters in Foreclosure: A Fresh Look at an Ongoing Problem

In 2009 NLIHC worked to help enact the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), a law to ensure that renters in foreclosure have the right to at least 90 days’ notice before having to move after a foreclosure. Currently, the law is set to expire at the end of 2014 unless Congress takes further action. Our new research shows that the number of renters impacted by the foreclosure crisis has grown over the last three years, and if the law expires, these renters will be once again vulnerable to eviction with minimal notice. As such NLIHC has worked this year to line up support for efforts in the House and Senate that would make the PTFA a permanent and stronger law.

We’ve worked hard this year to advance socially just housing policy that assures the lowest income Americans have access to affordable and decent homes. If you agree that these accomplishments are important and if you value our work, please make a year-end donation to the National Low Income Housing Coalition so that we can continue to be strong advocates for the housing needs of low income people in 2013.

New Affordable Housing Preservation Tool Empowers Advocates to Save Housing

Have you ever wanted to get a list of all of the federally assisted multifamily properties in your community, but couldn’t find one that was truly comprehensive? Have you ever wished you could see if a property had more than one subsidy attached to it, but didn’t want to have to go to multiple datasets to do it? Do you want to be able to see which affordable properties in your community have upcoming contract expiration dates so you can focus your efforts on ensuring those properties remain affordable? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you will be happy to hear that a new tool is now available that will allow you to do all of the above and much more!

The National Housing Preservation Database is an address-level database of all federally subsidized multifamily properties in the country. It includes information on properties with the following types of assistance:

This database contains the most comprehensive information about the location and status of over 70,000 properties and 3.5 million units.

We encourage you to take some time to explore this brand new resource. There is a “Preservation Tool” that allows you to search for specific types of properties in the geography of your choice, and there is a “Research Tool” that allows you to download the entire dataset. A detailed User Guide provides more information on how to use each of these tools. You can also view a map of all of the federally subsidized properties in your community on this website.

Affordable housing advocates know how vital the existing stock of project-based housing is to low income households in this country and have been waiting for a tool like this that might assist them in their efforts to identify and preserve this housing. Many cities and states have created similar databases for their locality and local governments, tenant organizers, nonprofit developers and others have used these databases to preserve affordable housing in those communities. Now, it is possible for people all over the country to create similar databases and coalitions.

If you are interested in creating a local database that includes properties with state and local subsidies from this larger database, feel free to contact Megan Bolton, Research Director at NLIHC at megan@nlihc.org.

Let us know what you think of the database and the mapping tool, and share with us how you might use this information to preserve affordable housing in your community. Let’s talk preservation in the comments!

How to Use NLIHC’s New Congressional District Profiles

This past week, NLIHC updated our Congressional District Profiles. The profiles are an important tool for housing advocacy, updated throughout the year as new data becomes available. The most recent update incorporates newly available five-year Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data. This update also reorganized the profiles, making it even easier to find the data relevant to your congressional district, and to compare housing needs across different income groups.

Advocates can use the profiles when meeting with Congressional staffers in a local district office or on Capitol Hill, to describe the extent to which additional affordable rental housing is needed locally.

When you meet with your Member of Congress or Member’s staff to discuss the need for affordable housing units, you can open the discussion by citing the number of severely burdened, extremely low income households living in your district.

For example, if you are a resident of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, you can point out that over 38,000 extremely low income households live in the area. Among these households, 22,572 households (59%) face a severe housing cost burden. This means they pay over 50% of their income towards rent. Access to affordable housing would alleviate that burden for these families, allowing them to cover other bills and expenses, including healthcare, child care and transportation.

The Congressional District Profiles demonstrate that extremely low income households consistently face a severe housing cost burden, in large part because the poorest households in most districts have the fewest rental units affordable and available to them.

As the profile for the 5th District indicates, that community has an immediate need for about 24,000 additional housing units to serve ELI households. Advocates should explain to Members and their staff that the National Housing Trust Fund is a solution to this housing shortage. The trust fund will directly address this demand for rental housing by providing additional resources towards expanding the supply of affordable housing in the district.

We hope housing advocates across the country find the profiles to be a useful advocacy tool. For more information on using the profiles or suggestions for when and how to weigh in with your Members of Congress, contact our outreach team at outreach@nlihc.org.

New Issue of Tenant Talk Available

Where can advocates get a refresher on the FY13 budget process for housing programs, a summary of important facts from Out of Reach and Housing Spotlight, an update on minimum rents and the Moving to Work demonstration program, and a review of NLIHC’s 2012 conference and new website? The answer is in the most recent issue of Tenant Talk, NLIHC’s quarterly newsletter for tenants, renters and residents that engages low income people in housing advocacy!

This issue also includes a section where readers can write questions into Tenant Talk; here is an excerpt:

Dear Tenant Talk,

NLIHC’s new website looks great! Is there still a way that I can use it to find out information on my federal representatives?

C.H., Richmond, VA

Dear C.H.,

Absolutely. As with our old site, you can type in your zip code in the section titled “Contact Congress” to immediately find out who your elected officials are and how you can reach them. Now “Contact Congress” is located on the right hand side of every page on the site. Just above that on the website, you’ll see a box where you can sign up to take action. By sharing your contact information with us, you’ll receive our Calls to Action, which alert you to the ways you can advocate on a range of housing issues. We hope you’ll explore our new website even further! You’ll find housing policy fact sheets, our most recent research, information about how to become an NLIHC member, and more!

In case you aren’t one of the thousands of individuals who already receive Tenant Talk in your mailbox or e-mail inbox, getting it delivered directly to you is easy! Just e-mail outreach@nlihc.org with your contact information.

In the mean time, we hope you check out the Spring 2012 issue, available online here.