WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) board of directors unanimously voted onto its board two new members on March 26: Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition Coordinator Erhard Mahnke and 22nd Avenue Apartments Cordoba Association President Shalonda Rivers. The new board members bring new perspectives and many years of experience advocating for affordable and decent homes for those with the lowest incomes. The NLIHC board also elected a new board chair, Marla Newman, the community development director for City of Winston-Salem.
Erhard Mahnke has worked in housing, community development, and municipal government in Vermont for more than 35 years. He has served as coordinator for the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition since 1997. His work for the Coalition includes representing the interests of Vermont’s affordable housing community at the statehouse in Montpelier, where he also served for many years as legislative liaison for the City of Burlington. Prior to his work for the Coalition, Mr. Mahnke was director of the Champlain Valley Mutual Housing Federation, a non-profit devoted to organizing, developing, and supporting resident-controlled, limited-equity housing cooperatives in and around Burlington, VT. He has an extensive background in co-op resident organizing and low-income resident leadership development. “I’m excited to join NLIHC’s board because I know that NLIHC is dedicated to supporting policies that will ensure every person in America has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing,” Mr. Mahnke said. “I know that decent housing is essential for a community to thrive economically, socially and culturally. NLIHC works to make affordable housing a reality for all low-income people across the country, and I look forward to elevating this issue nationally and sharing resources with communities throughout Vermont.”
Shalonda Rivers has worked for more than six years to secure better living conditions for people living in Opa-locka's 22nd Avenue Cordoba Courts apartments in Opa-locka, FL. She is both a mother and a resident leader who has rallied tenants against harmful policies and neglect on the part of HUD and the building owner. After forming the tenants' association in 2013, Ms. Rivers quickly concluded that most who lived at Cordoba didn't know their rights and worked to rectify that lack of awareness. At tenant meetings, she distributed a list of legal contacts and other resources to tenants to support their organizing efforts. “When people have riches or luxury, they think that because we’re . . . low-income, we’re nobody,” said Ms. Rivers. “However, through the support of NLIHC and its board, I intend to raise the voice of low-income residents and help support the narrative that no one deserves to live in deplorable conditions. Low-income tenants in Florida and throughout the country are organizing against property owners and HUD because they’re fed up with not being heard or [with being] ignored. I look forward to working directly with NLIHC’s board to change this and increase the visibility of residents who have been working for years to get their stories told and their living conditions changed.”
Marla Newman has over 20 years of housing and community development experience and, prior to her current position at the City of Winston-Salem, she served as executive director of the Louisiana Housing Alliance, an NLIHC state partner. She also has worked for the Housing and Economic Development Financial Corporation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Kansas City, MO, and has been a member of the NLIHC board of directors for the past seven years, most recently as the first vice-chair. “I am honored to have been nominated as the new NLIHC board chair and I’m eager to work with Erhard, Shalonda, and the entire board on the mission to end homelessness and housing poverty in America.”
“Marla brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience to her new role as chair of the NLIHC board of directors, and Erhard and Shalonda will contribute invaluable expertise and experience,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “I am pleased to welcome Erhard and Shalonda to the NLIHC team and look forward to working with them under Marla’s leadership on our collective efforts to ensure the lowest-income people in America have decent, affordable homes.”
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensure people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.