News Round-Up: Desperate Measures

Poor-quality housing conditions are often a fact of life for the poorest Americans. Two stories this week show the impact this reality has on families, and the different ways the story plays out in private and public housing.

On this blog, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research Linda Couch writes about family friends living in poverty and struggling for stability. Forced to leave the room they rented due to living conditions deemed unsafe by the local government, this family is hungry and nearly homeless. Linda knows all too well the conditions this family faces in the rental market, and wonders if there is a better life in their future.

Often, residents of federally assisted housing live in poor condition similar to their low income counterparts in private rental housing. As an article in the Tampa Bay Times explains, years of cuts to federal spending on public housing means public housing agencies often don’t have the funds necessary to operate and adequately maintain their housing. In response, HUD launched the Rental Assistance Demonstration, which allows housing agencies to seek out private investors to raise the capital necessary to maintain high-quality housing. Housing officials and advocates alike acknowledge the risks of private funding, but with housing need growing and budget cuts a fact of life for HUD-funded programs, many housing agencies see no other choice.

NLIHC Fall Webinars Engage Residents and Advocates

Update: These webinars have passed, but slides and other materials are available. Download the materials from the Engaging Residents in Voter Activities webinar from this page. Download materials from the webinar on the Rental Assistance Demonstration from this page.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has two great webinars coming up next week that will provide important information for residents, tenants, and low income housing advocates.

The first webinar, on Monday, September 17 at 4 pm ET, “Engaging Low Income Residents in Voter Activities,” features three panelists who will help nonprofit organizations, resident groups and resident leaders learn how to register, educate and mobilize low income voters for the November 6 election and beyond.

As discussed in the Winter 2011 issue of Tenant Talk voter turnout among traditionally underrepresented voters- minorities, renters and young people- increased in the 2008 presidential election, but there is still room for improvement. Register for our webinar and learn how to help drive voter turnout and strengthen American democracy.

The second webinar, on Tuesday, September 18 at 4 pm ET, is called “Rental Assistance Demonstration: What Residents and Advocates Need to Know Now.” The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) will allow a limited number of public housing agencies (PHAs) to apply to convert public housing units to long-term Project-Based Section 8 units. Public housing residents and advocates can- and should- engage with PHAs to ensure the best possible outcomes from RAD. This webinar will feature guest speakers from HUD, who will explain how RAD will work. NLIHC’s own Ed Gramlich will explain why it’s so important for residents to be part of the RAD application process, and lay out simple steps to get involved. We encourage all public housing residents, resident group members and leaders, and interested advocates to register for this webinar.

We’re strong believers in the need for constituent advocates to hold leaders accountable for meeting the housing needs of low income people. Webinars like these are one way we empower advocacy. If you’ve got an idea for a webinar, let us know in the comments.