As we move forward with our collective efforts for housing justice in 2018, we remember that this year marks the 50th anniversary of two very significant events. In the spring of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Just one week later, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act to prevent housing discrimination.
Our next issue of Tenant Talk in 2018 will explore the legacy of the Fair Housing Act and challenges our communities face in achieving greater integration. For now, we focus on another aspect of Dr. King’s legacy: voting rights and the importance of participation in elections. Dr. King always believed strongly that voting was the essential piece of future advancements for civil rights and equality. By electing responsive leaders with a just vision for the future, other concerns would be addressed through legislation. His vision remains a work in progress, partly because of recent court decisions to weaken the Voting Rights Act.
After a challenging year filled with effective resistance and opposition to federal leaders committed to weakening housing programs in 2017, the biggest opportunity we look to in the coming year is the November election. This year, voters will make decisions about 36 governors, 34 senators, and all of the House of Representatives. It is absolutely essential that low income renters and housing organizations have an active voice in the upcoming campaigns. Increased voter turnout among low income people will demonstrate to elected officials that we are a constituency they need to serve.
We produce this election issue of Tenant Talk earlier in the year than we have in the past because our hope is that the resources and spotlights provided in this document will inspire and inform your own efforts in your community. Please use NLIHC’s resources and work with our field team as you develop your voter engagement plans.
Let’s turn the tide in 2018 by getting out the vote!