Take Action Today View this email in your browser.



Debate Moderators (Finally) Ask Housing Question! 
For the first time in memory – if not in history – a moderator in a presidential debate asked candidates for their solutions to the nation’s housing affordability crisis.  On November 20, Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent, asked: “Millions of Americans are finding that housing has become unaffordable.  Why are you the best person to fix this problem?”  Three candidates – Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker – answered the question. 
Studies show presidential debates can shape which issues people prioritize and can elevate a topic in the national agenda.  Over the past five presidential debates, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign’s multi-sector Steering Committee sent letters to 19 different moderators urging them to ask a question about housing affordability.  The fact that leading national organizations from healthcare, education, civil rights, anti-hunger, faith, child welfare, criminal justice, LGBTQ equity, social work, and municipal governance jointly called for this question to be asked demonstrates the growing recognition that stable, affordable homes are central to many other national priorities. 
We could not have reached this historic moment without the support of these new allies and their networks of advocates.  Together, we will continue to broaden the movement for affordable homes.
Watch Debate Video


National LGBTQ Task Force Joins Opportunity Starts at Home Steering Committee
The National LGBTQ Task Force announced on November 14 that it is joining the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign Steering Committee. The National LGBTQ Task Force, the country’s oldest national LGBTQ advocacy group, works to advance full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people.  The Task Force is the latest addition to the campaign’s Steering Committee, which includes leading organizations from a wide range of sectors working shoulder-to-shoulder to solve the nation’s housing affordability crisis.
Research is increasingly clear that stable, affordable housing is a critical driver of positive outcomes in many areas of life, but such housing is much less assured for the LGBTQ community.  The Task Force is joining the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign because advancing equity for LGBTQ people demands access to safe, decent, and affordable homes. The campaign’s federal policy agenda articulates a bold package of solutions needed to solve the nation’s shortage of affordable homes, and the Task Force is eager to help push for congressional action.
“The Task Force is honored to join our colleagues on the Opportunity Starts at Home Steering Committee in the continued fight for affordable housing,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force.  “LGBTQ people, people of color, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and other marginalized populations have long struggled to meet our most basic needs. This campaign allows us to leverage our diverse perspectives and power in working together to ensure that all people have access to safe and secure housing. We look forward to bringing our dedication and expertise on these issues to the table.”
Read Press Release


Campaign Welcomes the Housing Network of Rhode Island As New State Partner 
The campaign is pleased to announce a new state partner, The Housing Network of Rhode Island (HNRI), has joined the campaign. HNRI was recently selected through the campaign’s “Endorsement Application,” which enables state-level organizations pursuing multi-sector efforts focused on housing policy to earn a formal endorsement from the national campaign.
As a new state partner of the national campaign, HNRI is working to broaden its state’s housing coalition to the healthcare, education, civil-rights, and anti-poverty sectors, among others. These multi-sector partnerships will be leveraged to influence national policymakers representing the state to advance more robust and equitable federal housing policies. In its application, HNRI demonstrated a strong track record of bringing non-housing groups into housing advocacy and a readiness to engage its federal elected officials around the campaign’s national policy priorities




HNRI has served over the past two years as the backbone organization of the “Homes RI” initiative, a cross-sector effort focused on raising awareness about the importance of affordable homes and pushing for bold policy solutions. The Homes RI initiative has involved over 200 individuals representing close to 80 organizations from across the state, each with a unique perspective on the lack of fair access to and supply of affordable homes. 

“Over the last several years, the Housing Network of Rhode Island and multi-sector partners involved with Homes RI have been working hard to advance the affordable housing agenda at the state and local level, and building out our coalition,” said Melina Lodge, HNRI executive director.  “We are thrilled to be joining other states doing similar work as part of a national campaign and are excited to learn from our peers and contribute to the conversation.”
HNRI joins the campaign’s existing state partners in California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Utah.  As the newest partner, HNRI will participate in peer-to-peer learning with campaign members in the other states and will gain access to resources, networks, and technical assistance from the national campaign.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Housing Network of Rhode Island as a state partner of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign,” said National Campaign Director Mike Koprowski. “Together, we will build a broad and diverse movement in every corner of the country to push for more robust and equitable federal housing policies.”
Read More on HNRI

JustLeadershipUSA and National Association of Social Workers Talk About Affordable Housing and Criminal Justice Reform
This month, the campaign released its 20th podcast episode.  The podcast features two experts from the campaign’s multi-sector Steering Committee speaking about the intersection of affordable housing and criminal justice reform: Mel Wilson, senior policy consultant for social justice and human rights at the National Association of Social Workers and Dylan Hayre, senior policy advisor at JustLeadershipUSA.
Mr. Wilson and Mr. Hayre discuss: the scale of the nation’s mass incarceration crisis and the legacy of public policies that shaped it; how housing instability leads to encounters with the criminal legal system; how such encounters in turn create major barriers to finding stable affordable housing; the importance of cross-sector work; and solutions.
“Housing is the foundation,” said Mr. Hayre. “It’s the building block from which a lot of other things can fall into place. For criminal justice folks, there’s an emerging recognition that we need to be intersectional in our approach.”
“There is an education that we need to do with our fellow reformers, explaining that we have to put energy around investment of funds towards housing,” said Mr. Wilson. “This has to get as much of a priority as some of the other issues that we’re dealing with in criminal justice reform.”
The National Association of Social Workers is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with more than 120,000 members. JustLeadershipUSA is one of the nation’s leading criminal justice reform advocacy organizations dedicated to cutting the U.S. prison population in half by 2030.
Listen to Podcast Episode
Read Criminal Justice & Housing Fact Sheet

Housing Policy is School Policy: Chicago Teachers Called for Affordable Housing in Contract Negotiations
Teachers in the nation’s third-largest school district have returned to school after an 11-day strike. While the contract negotiations included traditional issues like class sizes and benefits, the Chicago Teachers Union, in an unprecedented move, also called on the city to tackle issues that extend beyond the classroom, including the lack of affordable housing for school employees, students, and parents. The teachers demanded that the school district support public policies that encourage more affordable housing.
While the expansion of affordable housing did not ultimately make the final deal, experts believe that it represents the first teacher strike that focused on homelessness and affordable housing in contract negotiations. Not only do public school teachers and support staff in Chicago struggle to find affordable housing in the city where they are required to work, but they also understand that the housing affordability crisis deeply impacts their students’ ability to learn and thrive.  Last year in Chicago, over 16,000 students experienced homelessness.

Photo: Scott Heins – Bloomberg/Getty Images

Mayor Lightfoot agreed on the importance of affordable housing but did not support its explicit inclusion in the teacher contract itself.  “Affordable housing is a critical issue that affects residents across Chicago, and everyone’s voices need to be heard during this process,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As such, the [teachers union] collective bargaining agreement is not the appropriate place for the City to legislate its affordable housing policy.”
Nevertheless, the prioritization of housing affordability by one of the largest teachers’ unions in the country demonstrates a growing recognition that more robust investments in affordable housing will drive better student and teacher outcomes. As Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, explains: “It’s certainly true that in education the topics have expanded.  It seems like school districts are beginning to see housing affordability as a piece of the puzzle to make their school districts attractive.”
Read the Education & Housing Fact Sheet 

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

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




fb tw in
Copyright (C) 2018 Opportunity Starts at home
All rights reserved.