Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign hosted a panel discussion at the National Press Club with senior leaders from the National League of Cities, Catholic Charities USA, Children’s HealthWatch, National Women’s Law Center, and National Low Income Housing Coalition to discuss the prioritization of housing affordability in the national agenda.  The event, entitled “Broadening the Movement: Housing as a National Priority in 2020,” showcased powerful new constituencies that are mobilizing around the movement for affordable homes.  These organizations and many others have joined forces through the campaign, which is bringing together leaders from different sectors to advocate for more robust and equitable federal housing policies.

For too long, the critical importance of safe, decent, affordable housing has been overlooked as a top national priority. Skyrocketing rents are crushing households in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the country. Research consistently shows that a lack of stable, affordable housing causes and exacerbates negative outcomes in health, education, economic growth and upward mobility, civil rights, food security, criminal justice, homelessness prevention, environment, and more.

Speakers included:

  • Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Irma Esparza Diggs, Senior Executive and Director of Federal Advocacy, National League of Cities
  • Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center
  • Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA
  • Dr. Megan Sandel, MD MPH, Principal Investigator with Children’s HealthWatch and Co-Director of the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center
  • Mike Koprowski, National Director, Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign
Photos by Elias Kontogiannis for Catholic Charities USA

Opportunity Starts at Home is an unprecedented multi-sector campaign with leaders from many fields working toward increased investments to house the lowest income people,” said Ms. Yentel.  “We’re here because 2020 is such a consequential year for our work.”

“Mayors and city councilmembers are on the front-line everyday dealing with the housing issue,” said Ms. Diggs.  “They feel it is their responsibility to address the housing crisis, and their residents are looking to them to address it.”

“When you think about the work of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, it is deeply connected to all of the other work that the National Women’s Law Center does,” said Ms. Goss Graves.  “We are thrilled to be a part of this campaign.  Housing is so central to women’s lives.”

“As a faith-based organization, assisting vulnerable people claim a life of dignity is not just another part of our work – it is a moral imperative,” said Sister Donna Markham.  “Our long-standing Catholic social teaching says that we are obligated to make a preferential option for those who are poor and vulnerable.  And we’ve got a [housing] crisis on our hands.”

“The United States will spend $111 billion over the next 10 years in avoidable healthcare costs because of housing instability,” said Dr. Sandel.  “When people say we don’t have the money to tackle the housing crisis, I say that we’re spending it now and getting bad outcomes.  Why don’t we spend it better and get better outcomes?”

“Housing isn’t a blue state issue or a red state issue – it’s a purple issue,” said Mr. Koprowski.  “There is a growing recognition that housing is inextricably linked to nearly every measure of having a quality life.”

Leading national organizations from the housing, education, health, civil rights, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, criminal justice, child welfare, and faith-based sectors have come together through the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign to advocate for more robust and equitable federal housing policies.

Click here for full recording of the campaign’s Press Club event.

Press Release