The California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC), an NLIHC state coalition partner, launched a Storybook Project aimed at illustrating the positive impact of rental assistance programs on the lives of low income people across the state. Inspired by its collaboration with the National Housing Trust’s Section 8 Story Project, CHPC is collecting stories to help partners and advocates improve the way they communicate the need for affordable housing.
Against the backdrop of scarce federal and state funding, CHPC believes that housing leaders must do a better job of telling compelling stories about real people who live in homes made affordable through government funds. The Storybook Project features stories shared through CHPC’s electronic newsletter and a standalone website now under construction. CHPC hopes to highlight at least one story for each of California’s 53 congressional districts so that elected officials can see real and positive examples of the relationship between affordable housing investment and the people who benefit from it.
A recent story features Helene, a senior who has lived in Calabasas, California for 20 years. In August 2010, Helene and her husband realized their business was unable to withstand the recession and they could no longer afford to pay their mortgage. The couple attempted a short sale, but lost their home to foreclosure and sold family jewelry to survive. Helene eventually moved into Canyon Creek, a 75-unit affordable senior community, with her now ailing husband situated in a nearby assisted living facility.
Advocates use this story to illustrate how developments like Canyon Creek leverage federal, state and local dollars to make affordable housing projects feasible–in this case, financing from the City of Calabasas, HUD’s HOME Investment Partnership Program and LIHTC.
Each story describes the programs that help make the resident’s homes affordable, and includes a statistical snapshot of the housing situation in the jurisdiction where the resident lives. In Los Angeles County, where Helene resides, 121,393 families are on the Public Housing waitlist and 179,651 households are on the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist. Also included are the number of extremely low income families—272,000 families in this example—and state and congressional information for the location.
“The stories made a big impact on Congressional staffers during our round of Hill visits last spring,” said Marilyn Wacks, CHPC’s housing policy manager. “Multiple appropriations committee staffers told me that their bosses are always asking for this type of information from their constituents.”
To view Helene’s story, visit this website.
For more information or to submit a story, contact Marilyn Wacks at firstname.lastname@example.org