On April 27, representatives from 27 NLIHC State Coalition organizations met in Washington, DC for their semi-annual meeting held in conjunction with the NLIHC Housing Policy Conference. During the meeting, the statewide housing and homeless advocacy organizations learned the latest about NLIHC’s top policy priorities and engaged in dialogue concerning the NHTF and Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill (see article elsewhere in Memo).
“The NLIHC Partner Meeting provided the opportunity to not only meet partners but to hear issues, strategies, solutions and visions that motivate others to action,” said Sidni Shorter, Deputy Director for the Louisiana Housing Alliance (LHA) and first time attendee. “All these things combined will facilitate LHA in the implementation of best practices, going beyond the mere imagining of the potential for impact.”
Representatives of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), Connecticut Housing Coalition (CHC), and the Arizona Housing Alliance (AHA) led a session about building strategic coalitions to help advance an organization’s goals. Brenda Clement, NLIHC board member and CHAPA’s executive director, spoke about building partnerships with for-profit housing developers. This type of partnership has been successful in CHAPA’s effort to reduce Massachusetts’s reliance on hotels and motels as shelter for people who are homeless. CHAPA is working with for-profit housing developers to lease units to people needing affordable housing. Ms. Clement underscored the importance of discovering the common need or concern when collaborating with nontraditional partners.
CHC’s executive director, Betsy Crum and Val Iverson, executive director of AHA, jointly discussed how their statewide housing organizations have partnered successfully with their statewide homeless organization. CHC has worked with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the Partnership for Strong Communities, and others on Opening Doors Connecticut, the state’s framework to prevent and end homelessness. She reported that the organizations have worked together for many years on ending homelessness, and increasing access to affordable rental housing to extremely low income households.
Ms. Iverson, who has worked with the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness to advance key priorities, encouraged attendees to identify a specific issue around which to rally, establish trust with organizations with which you will partner, make sure messages each organization releases are complementary, and if possible, release marketing and public relations materials jointly.
Kathy Kamp, the new executive director for the Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development and first time State Coalition Meeting and NLIHC conference attendee, shared her thoughts about the gatherings. "Attendance at the NLIHC conference was a great opportunity to get educated about federal housing policy,” said Ms. Kamp. What I appreciated most was hearing about policies from the perspective of both the policy makers and from the tenants and advocates who experience the impact of the policies on the ground every day. The information that was presented convinced me that, even though we are facing difficult budget and financial issues at the federal level, we must continue to advocate strongly for lower income households in the U.S."
NLIHC State Coalition Partners are housing and homeless advocacy organizations serving statewide or regional areas. Click here to learn more information about the project: http://nlihc.org/whatwedo/outreach/state
For more information, please contact La’Teashia Sykes, State Coalition Project Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.