The nature and magnitude of the severe shortage of affordable homes demands a broad, multi-sector response.
Housing affordability is central to achieving better health, higher educational attainment, and longer lifetime earnings. It makes sense that leaders from health care, education, civil rights and many other sectors are ready to join in the advocacy to advance solutions to make homes affordable to the lowest income people.
Despite its importance, affordable homes for the lowest-income people is not yet a top priority at the national level.
A broad coalition of stakeholders is necessary to generate widespread support. Through Opportunity Starts at Home, we will expand the stakeholders, the network and the coalition that make up the movement for affordable homes.
The research is clear that housing is inextricably linked to nearly every measure of having a quality life – education, health care, civil rights, economic mobility, poverty reduction, economic productivity and growth, social unity, homeless prevention, veterans care, and more. The complexities of modern-day social challenges require us to look beyond our respective organizational and issue silos and acknowledge our interdependencies. We cannot simply pick-and-choose separate issues and then stay in our respective lanes. These issues are too complicated and difficult for one sector to solve alone.
The realities of the research are undeniable and inescapable.
Educators cannot fully realize student achievement goals unless those students go home to stable, affordable homes.
Health care providers cannot fully heal patients unless there is relief from the perpetual stressors, anxieties, and illnesses caused by unaffordable and unstable housing.
Civil rights advocates cannot fully address massive racial and economic disparities unless policies reduce residential segregation and affirmatively further fair housing.
And economic mobility advocates will struggle to effectively move families up the income ladder and build wealth so long as unaffordable rents eat up over half of an already inadequate paycheck.
Regardless of the issue, the question of affordable homes is unavoidable.
Multi-sector partners in this campaign are coming together because we understand the criticality of housing within each sector, and we know that we cannot fully achieve our own stated, self-interested goals and priorities without strong federal housing policies and programs. We have embraced the idea that housing is a key driver of outcomes in our respective field(s). And housing advocates within this campaign have embraced the idea that new multi-sector partnerships are valued and necessary.