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Campaign Applauds Budget Deal and Urges Congress to Prioritize Housing Assistance 
The Opportunity Starts at Home campaign’s multi-sector Steering Committee sent a letter on August 14 to leaders of the Senate and House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittees: Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). The letter urges the leaders to prioritize housing assistance for the nation’s most vulnerable people during negotiations regarding FY20 appropriations. The letter is a call to action to elevate rental housing affordability as a national priority given decades of chronic underfunding and the public’s call for concrete policy solutions. 
The letter follows a recent agreement between Congress and the White House to lift the Budget Control Act federal spending caps on defense and domestic programs by $321 billion for the next two fiscal years. In light of the new agreement, the letter urges Congress to match the Housing Choice Voucher and public housing funding levels in the House-passed “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019” (H.R. 3877).
Read the Letter to Congress


New Campaign Blogs: Housing, Health, and the Environment
On August 7, the campaign published a blog written by Dr. Patricia Martin, D.O., a family physician at Unity Health Care Minnesota Avenue Health Center.  Unity Health Care participates on the campaign’s Roundtable.  The blog features the perspective of a practicing physician about why good housing is a prescription for good health for her patients.  According to Dr. Martin, “I believe there is no technology or intervention that will drive down rising healthcare costs and improve health outcomes more quickly than safe, decent, affordable housing.”  
Read Dr. Martin’s Blog
On August 14, Children’s HealthWatch, a Steering Committee member of the campaign, published a blog written by Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  The blog highlights the deep connections between housing and health, as well as how the campaign is building lasting partnerships with the health sector.  As Ms. Yentel writes: “When housing advocates work alongside pediatricians, public health researchers, and health policy experts, we pique the interests of policymakers in new ways and urge them to take action.”  
Read Ms. Yentel’s Blog
On August 19, the campaign also published a blog written by Khalil Shahyd, senior policy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  NRDC is a member of the campaign’s Roundtable.  According to Mr. Shahyd, “we are beginning to realize the critical role of affordable housing in reducing the negative impacts of climate change.  We cannot adequately tackle the dual crises of climate change and housing affordability in silos.”  
Read Mr. Shahyd’s Blog

New Jersey’s Capitol Day Features Opportunity Starts at Home
Monarch Housing Associates, with the support of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ) and 35 other partner organizations, held its annual Congressional Reception in Washington, DC, on July 24 under the banner of Opportunity Starts at Home. Through its partnership with the campaign, New Jersey is diversifying its housing coalition to include other sectors and engaging its federal delegation around the campaign’s policy priorities. The event was attended by over 300 individuals. Speakers included those with lived experience of homelessness and representatives from the campaign’s national Steering Committee organizations such as the National Education Association.
The speakers urged Congress to enact bold solutions to solve the nation’s housing affordability crisis.  Several members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation also addressed the crowd and spoke to the importance of decent, accessible, affordable homes, including Senator Robert Menendez and Representatives Andy Kim, William Pascrell, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Mikie Sherrill and Bonnie Watson Coleman.  Staff representing the offices of Senator Cory Booker and Representative Frank Pallone also made an appearance.
Read More About NJ’s Hill Day
Watch the Speakers

Study Shows Affordable Housing Is Linked with Stronger Child Enrichment and Cognitive Development
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University explored the impacts of affordable housing on child enrichment and cognitive development.  They found that when families spent more than half of their incomes on housing (severely housing cost-burdened), their children’s reading and math ability tended to suffer. Families with severe housing cost burdens have less disposable income to spend on things like computers, books, and educational experiences that foster child development. Families who spent 30% of incomes on rent spent $75 more per year on child enrichment than those who spent 50% of their incomes on rent.
The research also found, paradoxically, that significantly lower housing costs burdens were not necessarily better for cognitive development. In fact, children’s cognitive abilities also tended to suffer when families spent less than 20% of their incomes on housing. The researchers suggest these findings could indicate such families were living in substandard homes in distressed neighborhoods, which is known to have negative impacts on health and cognitive development. 
“Families spending about 30 percent of their income on housing had children with the best cognitive outcomes,” said Sandra J. Newman, professor of policy studies at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s worse when you pay too little and worse when you pay too much.”
The study furthers our understanding that affordable housing has a strong connection to childhood development, and it also provides empirical support for the long-standing rule that “affordable” housing is 30% of household income.
A media release about the research is here, and the research brief is here.  To read additional research about the connections between housing affordability and childhood development, please see the campaign’s Sector Pages.
Read the Study

New Podcast Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of “Out of Reach”: The History and Future of Affordable Housing
Check out a newly released podcast episode which commemorates the 30th anniversary of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) Out of Reach report and discusses the history and future of affordable housing, moderated by New York Times reporter Emily Badger. The episode features a panel of experts: Peggy Bailey, vice president for housing policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Shelia Crowley, former NLIHC president and CEO; Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and NLIHC board member; and Andrew Aurand, NLIHC vice president for research. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel and Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign Director Mike Koprowski provide an introduction on the history and importance of “Out of Reach.”  
From left to right: Emily Badger, Erhard Mahnke, Peggy Bailey, & Andrew Aurand. Missing Shelia Crowley
Listen to the Podcast

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Opportunity Starts at Home
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