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Dear Friends,


2019 was a breakthrough year for the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, and none of it would have been possible without your ongoing support and advocacy.  We are heading into 2020 with tremendous momentum toward the goal of ending homelessness and ensuring that the lowest income people can afford stable homes in thriving neighborhoods.  As we approach the final days of 2019, let us look back at the campaign’s progress over the past year:

Unveiling the Policy Agenda

We kicked off 2019 with the launch of our federal policy agenda, entitled “Within Reach,” which was developed in consultation with our national partners from the housing, education, health, civil rights, anti-hunger, criminal justice, social work, child welfare, municipal governance, and faith-based sectors.  “Within Reach” calls on Congress to 1) dramatically expand federal rental assistance, such as housing vouchers and/or renters’ tax credits; 2) dramatically expand the supply of housing affordable to the lowest-income renters, which requires larger investments in production programs like the national Housing Trust Fund; and 3) create a federal emergency rental assistance program to keep families in crisis stably housed.  In January, we hosted a Congressional Briefing alongside our multi-sector partners to unveil “Within Reach.”  The briefing was attended by over 110 Hill staffers and advocates.
Advancing the Policy Agenda
While our ambitious policy goals will take years to accomplish at full scale, we’ve already seen some important early wins and notable progress.  For example, the final FY19 funding bill passed by Congress and signed by the President included $28 million for the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration, which will provide voucher households with expanded access to neighborhoods of opportunity with strong schools, better job prospects, and other resources.  This marks the first time Congress has funded a housing mobility initiative since the early 1990s.  The campaign’s multi-sector Steering Committee was active in urging Congress to invest in this important program.
Throughout the year, the campaign laid the groundwork for future advocacy efforts, such as launching and managing a sign-on letter calling on Congress to expand the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to at least $3.5 billion annually through comprehensive housing finance reform.  For most of the year, the campaign urged national, state, and local organizations – especially those from non-housing sectors – to add their names.  We’ve seen some “unusual suspects” add their names, such as StriveTogether, which is a national education collaborative focused on kindergarten readiness, academic achievement, and postsecondary success. We expect that the HTF will come up again in 2020 when the Senate Banking Committee discusses housing finance reform, and when it does, we will be ready.  The campaign also regularly advocated for emerging legislative opportunities that arose throughout the year, such as the reintroduction of the bipartisan Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, housing investments as part of a potential infrastructure package, and prioritizing housing assistance under the budget cap deal.
But our most significant policy accomplishments came in the final weeks of the year – the culmination of many months of persistent determination to get our policy ideas into legislation.  On December 12, we saw the introduction of the bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act, which contains the campaign’s proposal for an emergency rental assistance program that would provide direct financial assistance and stability services to help the lowest income households stay stably housed during an unforeseen economic shock.  This innovative policy solution was developed and championed by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, which worked closely with the bill’s Republican and Democratic sponsors.  On the day of introduction, the New York Times published an in-depth article about the legislation and the rationale behind emergency rental assistance to avert eviction and homelessness. 
Just one week later, on December 18, we saw the introduction of the bipartisan Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act, which would create 500,000 new housing vouchers specifically designed for low-income families with young children to expand their access to neighborhoods of opportunity with high-performing schools, strong job prospects, and other resources.  This exact proposal was identified in the campaign’s policy agenda, and members of our Legislative Working Group advocated most of the year to get it introduced in Congress.  The bill contains one of the most research-based and cost-effective policy tools available to the federal government to expand access to stable, affordable homes, largely eliminate homelessness among families with young kids, promote racially and economically integrated neighborhoods, and dramatically improve upward mobility for low-income children. 
The introduction of the Eviction Crisis Act and the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act are both significant milestones for the campaign in advancing its policy agenda.  The fact that these bills are bipartisan – especially in the current political climate – speaks volumes about the growing recognition that housing is inextricably linked to nearly every measure of having a quality life.  In 2020, we look forward to spreading the word, raising awareness, and building multi-sector support to get these bills enacted quickly.  In fact, right now, you can send a pre-formatted letter urging your senators to support these bills by clicking here and here
We would also point to the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act as a legislative example of the campaign’s fully scaled, long-term agenda.  This bill would effectively end homelessness through robust investments in the national Housing Trust Fund ($40 billion per year) and full funding for rental assistance so that every household that qualifies for help receives it.  You can read more about this legislation in an op-ed published in The Hill by Senator Hirono and Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  The growing willingness of elected officials from both parties to propose bold solutions is enormously encouraging – and, as you’ll read in the next section, so too is the growing appetite for action from the American people.
Assessing Public Opinion
In March, the campaign commissioned a major national public opinion poll – the first in several years to extensively assess the extent to which the public is concerned about housing affordability, whether people expect action from elected officials, and whether people are open to the specific policy solutions outlined by the campaign.  The results were profound: 60% of people now say housing affordability is a serious problem where they live, which jumped an astounding 21 points since 2016; 8 in 10 people say that both the President and Congress should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income households; 76% said they are more likely to vote for candidates who have detailed plans for making housing more affordable; and strong bipartisan majorities expressed support for our specific policy solutions. 
We highlighted these results at a Congressional Briefing for Hill staffers, and we also published two op-eds – one in BuzzFeed written by Mike Koprowski, Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign Director, and one in CityLab written by Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition – that received retweets from several presidential candidates.  Through this poll, we’ve been able to make a stronger case to elected officials that they have a clear mandate for action from the American people.  The campaign’s Steering Committee also used these polling results to help convince the presidential debate moderators to ask a question about housing affordability, which finally happened in November!

Expanding Multi-Sector Coalitions

Every step of the way, our efforts have been powered by the diverse array of multi-sector partners on the campaign’s national Steering Committee, which is chaired by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and on the Opportunity Roundtable.  In 2019, we continued to bring non-housers into the work of housing advocacy: JustLeadershipUSA, National LGBTQ Task Force, and National Women’s Law Center joined the Steering Committee in 2019, and the Roundtable is now up to 81 participating organizations. 
In addition to our national partners, we also continued to support state-based partners in California, Idaho, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Utah.  These state partners worked to diversify their own state’s housing coalition to other sectors, and they leveraged those new multi-sector advocates to engage their federal elected officials on the campaign’s policy agenda.  This year, we were thrilled to announce the addition of three new state partners in Illinois, Indiana, and Rhode Island.  Our state partners are doing incredible work to bring new voices into the housing space, formalizing partnerships with the state and local affiliates of national organizations on our Steering Committee.  They’ve hosted events and conferences featuring these new partnerships and their federal elected officials; conducted tours of affordable housing developments to familiarize non-housers, such as school superintendents; published op-eds (click here and here for examples) and sign-on letters echoing support for the campaign’s policy agenda; and spearheaded in-district meetings with Members of Congress.  Over time, these efforts will reach all 50 states.
Communications and Content
We tried all year to consistently produce high-quality content that you would find interesting and useful: 
  • New fact sheets to make the case that the housing crisis spills over into many other sectors (Housing & Criminal Justice; Housing & Domestic Violence; Housing & Environment; and Housing & Disability Rights). 


  • New podcast episodes featuring guests such as Senator Todd Young, former Secretary of Education John King, renowned urbanist Dr. Richard Florida, and one of the world’s leading energy experts Dr. Dan Kammen.  Emily Badger, New York Times reporter, also sat as a guest host to help us mark the 30th Anniversary of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s landmark “Out of Reach” report. 



  • Briefing at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center featuring Children’s HealthWatch, Children’s Defense Fund, and National League of Cities to discuss the research showing stronger investments in affordable homes will generate multiplying returns in the form of better health outcomes and reduced healthcare expenditures, more vibrant and productive local economies, and increased economic mobility for low-income children.


  • Summaries of current events (e.g., striking Chicago teachers demand affordable housing) and intersectional research (e.g., rental assistance legislation most efficient, dollar for dollar, in reducing poverty; affordable housing linked with stronger cognitive development and child enrichment; Medicaid expansion can significantly reduce evictions).


  • Enhanced our interactive website with nearly 100,000 views and 3,100 newsletter sign-ups.  And ramped up our social media efforts, with over 1.3 million engagements on Twitter.
Going Forward in 2020
We are confident that, in 2020, we will continue to advance our goal of ending homelessness and ensuring the lowest income people can afford stable homes in thriving neighborhoods.  The early months of 2020 will be a pivotal moment that shapes the national agenda. The president is expected to give his yearly State of the Union Address and will also unveil his fourth federal budget proposal, and voters will start heading to the polls to decide the Democratic presidential nominee.  The campaign will continue to work to ensure that the critical importance of safe, decent, affordable housing rises to a top national priority; we will continue to broaden our movement to other sectors; and we will continue to work to get our priority legislation enacted into law.
Our first big event of the year, entitled “Housing as a National Priority in 2020,” will be held on January 16 at The National Press Club in Washington DC.  Speakers include the CEOs of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Catholic Charities USA, JustLeadershipUSA, National League of Cities, Children’s HealthWatch, and National Women’s Law Center.  You can register to attend the event here.
I hope everyone has a great holiday season and best wishes for a new year!

Mike Koprowski, Director 

Chantelle Wilkinson, Coordinator
Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign

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Opportunity Starts at Home
c/o National Low Income Housing Coalition

1000 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005




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