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ACT NOW: Urge Congress to Support the “Eviction Crisis Act” and the “Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act” 
Two months ago, two major pieces of bipartisan housing legislation were introduced in the U.S. Senate, both of which are key policy priorities of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.
First, the Eviction Crisis Act was introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Todd Young (R-IN).  Among various other promising provisions, the legislation includes the creation of an Emergency Assistance Fund that would provide direct financial assistance and stability services to help the lowest income households overcome an unforeseen economic shock (e.g., broken-down car, unreimbursed medical bill, etc.) that threatens their housing stability. 
Second, the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act  was introduced by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Todd Young (R-IN).  This legislation would create an additional 500,000 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 legislation could largely eliminate homelessness among families with young children, as well as substantially reduce the number of children growing up in areas of concentrated poverty.  


Congress needs to hear from you about these important and historic bipartisan efforts to tackle the housing crisis!  By clicking below, you can send pre-formatted letters to your elected officials urging them to support these bills.

Click Here for the Eviction Crisis Act
Click Here for the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act


Campaign Submits Statement on “Bold, Bipartisan Solutions to the Eviction Crisis” to House Financial Services Committee
The campaign submitted a Statement for the Record to the House Financial Services Committee in advance of its January 14 hearing, “On the Brink of Homelessness: How the Affordable Housing Crisis and the Gentrification of America Is Leaving Families Vulnerable.” The campaign’s statement, “Bold, Bipartisan Solutions to the Eviction Crisis,” contains six sections:
  • Section I explains the causes and pervasiveness of the nation’s eviction epidemic. 
  • Section II explores how a lack of stable, affordable housing drives negative outcomes in other areas like education, health, food security, upward mobility, homelessness prevention, economic growth, criminal justice, racial equity, and domestic violence. 
  • Section III discusses recent public opinion polling showing that elected officials have a clear mandate from the public to take bold action. 
  • Section IV highlights the promise of the Eviction Crisis Act, introduced in December, 2019, by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH), along with Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Todd Young (R-IN).  Among various other promising provisions, the legislation includes the creation of an emergency rental assistance program to test, evaluate, and expand proven interventions to help low-income households facing housing instability due to an unexpected economic shock.  This policy solution was developed and championed by the campaign, which worked closely with the bill’s sponsors.
  • Section V explains why emergency rental assistance is important and necessary to avert the downward spiral of housing instability, eviction, and homelessness. 
  • Section VI presents research demonstrating that many tenants face eviction over relatively small sums of money – in many cases, one month of rent or less – and that emergency rental assistance programs demonstrate effectiveness across the country and save taxpayer money. 
Read the Statement


National Nurse-Led Care Consortium and the Campaign Publish Companion Articles on Housing & Health
The National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC) and the campaign published on February 20 companion articles about the intersections of the health and housing sectors. Kristine Gonnella, senior director of strategic initiatives at NNCC, published “Housing is Health in 2020, The Year of the Nurse” on OSAH’s website. In turn, Mike Koprowski, national director of Opportunity Starts at Home, published “Nurse Leaders ARE Housing Advocates” on NNCC’s website. NNCC, the leading advocate for nurse-managed health care, participates on the campaign’s Roundtable alongside 83 other organizations from a variety of sectors. 
“Across the country, more in the healthcare sector are beginning to recognize the importance of stable, affordable homes to the health of their patients,” writes Ms. Gonnella. “Unfortunately, the nation is in the grips of an unprecedented housing affordability crisis in which wages for the lowest income people have stagnated while rents continue to climb. A lack of stable, affordable housing is a public health concern and one that the nursing community has a longstanding commitment to address.”
“Every day, nurse leaders see first-hand the harmful health impacts of unstable and unaffordable housing on their patients,” writes Mr. Koprowski. “Therefore, they are uniquely positioned to weigh in on housing policy issues and join in the advocacy to make homes affordable for low-income people. Housing advocates and healthcare professionals must recognize that their fates are intertwined and work shoulder-to-shoulder to advance research-based housing solutions.  That is exactly what we are doing through Opportunity Starts at Home.”
Read NNCC’s Article
Read OSAH’s Article


Community Catalyst Encourages Health Plans to Invest in Affordable Housing
A recent issue brief from the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst explores how health plan resources can be used to invest in affordable housing. The health care system has increasingly focused on the non-medical drivers of health such as food security, transportation, and affordable, accessible housing. While many hospitals have begun to invest in these “social determinants of health,” fewer health plans have done so. 
At a time when many health plans are highly capitalized, the report encourages them to invest a portion of their reserves back into the community. The issue brief provides background on the health plan regulatory and financial landscape, offers perspectives on the feasibility of health plan investments into housing and community development without adversely affecting their financial position, and describes the various options for making these investments.
“Health plans provide coverage for the medical expenses of their members,” write the authors.  “Increasingly, however – and particularly in the context of a widespread shift in the health care system to value-based models – health plans’ payments are based, in part, on their members’ health outcomes. The adoption of this responsibility for outcomes follows the increasingly widespread understanding of the impact of social, environmental and economic factors on our health, including safe and affordable housing.”
Community Catalyst is member of the campaign’s Steering Committee and is a national nonprofit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the nation’s health system.
Read Issue Brief 

Report Shows Most White Children Live in Neighborhoods of Opportunity, Most Black and Hispanic Children Live in Neighborhoods with Low Opportunity
A new report from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University shows that most white children in the U.S. live in neighborhoods of opportunity while most Black and Hispanic children live in neighborhoods with low opportunity.  In fact, across the 100 largest metros, the majority of white (65%) and Asian (62%) children live in high- or very high-opportunity neighborhoods but the majority of Black (67%) and Hispanic children (58%) live in very low- or low-opportunity neighborhoods.  Black children are 7.6 times and Hispanic children 5.3 times more likely to live in very low-opportunity neighborhoods than white children.
The researchers created a Child Opportunity Index that analyzed 72,000 neighborhoods or census tracts in the U.S.  The index measures a range of neighborhood conditions that shape child outcomes, such as the availability and quality of early education centers and schools, high school graduation rates, the number of adults with high-skills jobs, poverty and employment rates, air pollution levels, housing vacancy and home ownership rates, and the availability of green spaces and healthy food options. Each neighborhood received a composite score and was assigned an opportunity level: very low, low, moderate, high, or very high opportunity. 
“Neighborhoods matter for children’s health and development,” write the report’s authors. “All children in the United States should live in neighborhoods with access to good schools, healthy foods, safe parks and playgrounds, clean air, safe housing and living-wage jobs for the adults in their lives. However, far too many children in the U.S. live in neighborhoods that lack these conditions.”
Read the Report 
Read NPR’s Article
Read the Campaign’s Racial Equity & Housing Fact Sheet

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Opportunity Starts at Home
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