Organizing AwardsThe NLIHC Organizing Awards recognize outstanding achievement during 2020 in statewide, regional, citywide, neighborhood, and/or resident organizing that furthers NLIHC’s mission of achieving socially just public policy to ensure people with the lowest incomes in the U.S. have affordable and decent homes. Special consideration will be given to nominations that incorporate tenant- or resident-centered organizing and leadership. The awards will be featured at the NLIHC 2021 Virtual Housing Policy Forum being held in the spring of 2021. 

The deadline has now passed.

An Organizing Awards Committee composed of NLIHC board members and previous award winners will determine this year’s honorees. NLIHC will provide two representatives of each honored organization complimentary Forum registrations and one hotel room for the next in-person convening.

Questions? Please reach out to Olivia Arena at: [email protected]  

Past NLIHC Organizing Award Winners

  • 2019

    Winner: State and Local Organizing Award

    Mutual Housing California (California)

    Verna Ekpeduma and Alexandra Alvarado

    Verna Ekpeduma and Alexandra Alvarado

    Mutual Housing California conducted a year-long voter-participation effort with residents as part of a larger movement to secure more local and statewide funding for affordable housing through 2018 ballot measures. Their efforts resulted in a 14% increase in low-income resident voter registration and the participation of over 100 of its residents in leadership training. These efforts supported a victory for $6 billion in new housing funding.

    Read more here

    Winner: Resident Organizing Award

    Texas Housers (Houston)

    L to R: Chrishelle Palay, Ericka Bowman, Daija Jackson, Verna Ekpeduma, Alexandra Alvarado

    L to R: Chrishelle Palay, Ericka Bowman, Daija Jackson, Verna Ekpeduma, Alexandra Alvarad

    Texas Housers launched an organizing initiative called “12 Moms” that focused on 12 households led by women with children to develop a growing movement of involvement in HUD housing in Houston. The effort began in 2018 with a goal of recruiting and working with 12 women with children living in HUD-subsidized homes to elevate their voices around the poor conditions of those homes. Over the course of the year, 12 Moms greatly exceeded its goal by organizing 120 tenant leaders who mobilized to improve the quality of their HUD-subsidized homes and properties.

    Read more here

  • 2018

    Winner: Trail Blazer Award

    2018 ProgramRight to Counsel NYC Coalition (New York City)

    Right to Counsel NYC Coalition (RTC NYC) built tenant power and advocacy to win the civil right to an attorney for low-income renters facing eviction in New York City. This accomplishment marked the culmination of a 3-year campaign to pass what is known locally as Intro 214-B. The law represents the first such tenant protection in any jurisdiction in the nation. When fully implemented, the law is anticipated to benefit an estimated 400,000 tenants, prevent 5,000 families per year from experiencing homelessness, and save New York City $300 million annually.

    Winner: Renter Advocacy Award

    Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council shared with Empower Missouri (St. Louis)

    The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC) and Empower Missouri successfully advocated for the passage of a citywide ordinance—Board Bill 87—criminalizing “self-hep” or “lock-out” evictions in the City of St. Louis, which had already been illegal under Missouri state civil code. The ordinance defines conditions that qualify as an illegal eviction tactic, institutes penalties for landlords who illegally evict a tenant, and updates law enforcement procedures accordingly.

    Read more here

  • 2017

    Winner: Organizing Award (shared)

    East Bay Housing Organizations (Oakland)


    2017 Awards InsertEast Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) played a critical role in two major affordable housing ballot measure campaigns. In the high-rent area of Alameda County, EBHO was instrumental in passing a $580 million affordable housing bond measure (A1) that included funds for everything from housing for formerly homeless people to first-time homebuyer assistance. Through community pressure, including a signature-gathering campaign assisted by EBHO, the Oakland City Council added the “Protect Oakland Renters” ballot initiative (Measure JJ), which helped protect Oakland renters from illegal rent increases and unjustified evictions. Through the Resident and Community Organizing Program (RCPO), EBHO resident leaders from affordable housing communities made more than fifty presentations across the county and worked tirelessly to encourage their community to vote yes for affordable housing. Both measures passed with overwhelming support in November 2016.

    Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (California)


    Representing the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), succeeded in delivering $2 billion in new revenue for affordable housing development and preservation resources by initiating, supporting, and securing passage of three County ballot measures—Measure A (Santa Clara County), Measure A1 (Alameda County) and Measure K (San Mateo County) in 2016. NPH provided strategic guidance and support to local leaders on initiating and working for passage of the local ballot measures. NPH helped identify unique opportunities to galvanize the community, including building and mobilizing a robust resident engagement program that led to an 18% increase in resident voter registration.

    Read more here

  • 2016

    Winner: Organizing Award

    Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (District of Columbia)

    Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), this year's Organizing Award Winners

    2016 Awards InsertThe Washington D.C.-based Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) led a grassroots Housing for All Campaign that shined a light on the lack of housing affordability in the District of Columbia. The campaign achieved more than $365 million in affordable housing investment and helped institute changes in how affordable housing is funded in the District. Launched in 2011 by the 140-member CNHED, the Campaign has organized over 4,000 supporters and 100 organizations to take action and secure unprecedented investments in affordable housing. In addition to pledging their support, many engaged in direct actions, including planning, presented and participated in town halls and rallies; testified at a Council of the District of Columbia hearing; participated in a largescale email action; met with Members of the Council on Advocacy Day; and turned out for Budget Vote Day.

    Read more here

  • 2015

    Winner: State and Local Organizing Award

    Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land (Philadelphia)

    Nora Lichtash, Women’s Community Revitalization Project and Nancy Salandra, Disabled In Action NLIHC’s 2015, State and Local Organizing Honorees

    Awards-Insert_0215-p1.jpgThe Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land (TBVL) created the nation’s largest and Philadelphia’s first community land bank. The Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land is a broad coalition of 47 community organizations led by the Women’s Community Revitalization Project, Liberty Resources, and Disabled in Action. The campaign worked to ensure that the new Philadelphia Land Bank legislation contained provisions for accountability through community representation on the Land Bank’s board and for transparency through public access to all Land Bank transfers of land. Signed into law by Mayor Michael Nutter in January of 2014, the newly created Philadelphia Land Bank will control more than 40,000 abandoned properties and will allocate them to organizations and developers to produce affordable housing, urban agriculture projects, and neighborhood economic development.

    Winner: Resident Organizing Award

    Community Housing Partnership (San Francisco)

    The Community Housing Partnership (CHP) in San Francisco successfully organized efforts in support of the Fair Chance Ordinance, a local ordinance to “ban the box” on applications for employment or affordable housing. CHP’s campaign efforts involved three staff organizers working with and on behalf of more than 50 CHP property residents who were formerly incarcerated. CHP’s Community Organizing and Resident Engagement (CORE) Program mobilizes the active participation of more than 1,300 low income, formerly homeless CHP tenants on policies that affect low-income people city-wide. To get the ordinance approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, CHP’s tenant leaders conducted a peer outreach campaign that resulted in more than 2,000 residents sending postcards supporting the ordinance to the Board. Tenant leaders served as a key resource for media reports on the impact of housing and employment discrimination. CHP organizers worked with tenant leaders to hold four City Hall rallies and two community teach-in events.

    Joseph Snook Top Photo: Daisy Franklin, NLIHC Board Member;  James Tracy and Donnell Fuller, CHP and NLIHC’s 2015 Resident Organizing Honorees;| Sheila Crowley, NLIHC President and CEO; Brenda Clement, NLIHC Board Chair

    Bottom: CORE leader Joseph Snook waits to testify at Board of Supervisors hearing on Fair Chance Ordinance.

    Read more here

    Shelterforce Article

Archived Winners

Winner: State and Local Organizing Award

South Dakota Housing Opportunity Fund (South Dakota)
GROW South Dakota and South Dakota Habitat for Humanity
Lori Moen of GROW South Dakota and Patty Bacon of South Dakota Habitat for Humanity accept the 2014 State and Local Organizing Award from NLIHC Board Member Daisy Franklin.

The 2014 State and Local Organizing award was presented to a coalition of organizations that created the South Dakota Housing Opportunity Fund, which will provide funding for the construction or rehabilitation of rental or homeowner housing, preservation of affordable housing, home repair to increase accessibility and efficiency, homelessness prevention activities, and investments in community land trusts. The fund is targeted to low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The victory is the result of a three-year advocacy effort. In 2010, Habitat for Humanity – South Dakota began building a coalition committed to creating a state housing trust fund. The coalition partners educated the public on the need for a housing trust fund and put together a legislative proposal. The steering committee developed communication, mobilized supporters across the state, and activated their respective networks to visit with legislators in their home districts. In March 2013, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) signed the Housing Opportunity Fund into law. The fund has two dedicated sources of funding from a contractor’s excise tax and the state Unclaimed Property Fund.

Winner: Resident Organizing Award

Cook County Source of Income Protection Coalition (Illinois)
Brendan Saunders of Open Communities and Shirley Johnson of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization accept the 2014 Resident Organizing Award from NLIHC Board Member Bob Palmer.

The Cook Country Source of Income Protection Coalition succeeded in getting Housing Choice Voucher holders included as a protected class under the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance (CCHRO). Prior to this victory, the ordinance had protected individuals from the source of income (SOI) discrimination but specifically excluded voucher holders. In 2011, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO), Open Communities, and other Chicago area advocates successfully mobilized tenants and advocates, arguing that housing providers were refusing to rent to voucher holders as a legal way to discriminate and exclude people from housing based on race, national origin, familial status, and disability. MTO took the lead on larger organizing efforts, including letter-writing campaigns and town hall meetings. The ordinance was finally amended to include voucher holders on May 13, 2013.

Tenant Talk Volume 5, Issue 2

2014 Annual Report

Winner: State and Local Organizing Award

Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition (Maryland)

The Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC) organized a state-level campaign to secure an increase of $42.5 million in state funding for rental housing, through the new Rental Housing Works Initiative. MAHC crafted a proposal for the new program, met with key governmental leaders and legislators, and coordinated outreach among their 155 member organizations. The legislature allocated $17.5 million to the Rental Housing Works Initiative in the FY13 budget and Governor Martin O’Malley added an additional $25 million in the FY14 budget.

Winner: Resident Organizing Award

Central Advisory Council of Chicago Housing Authority (Chicago)

The Central Advisory Council (CAC) was honored for its longstanding commitment to affordable and available housing for Public Housing residents and Housing Choice Voucher recipients in Chicago. For more than a decade, the Central Advisory Council has played an active role ensuring that tenants’ rights are fully protected and has provided comments on Chicago Housing Authority’s Annual Plan, Moving to Work Agreement, and Housing Choice Voucher Plan. In 2012, the CAC submitted its 2012 Strategies and Recommendations Report to the Chicago Housing Authority. The housing authority used many of the CAC’s recommendations as it developed plans moving forward. The CAC developed a 2013 Tenant Resource Calendar and Tenant Resource Guide and distributed them to more than 25,000 public housing and voucher households in Chicago.  

State and Local Award

NLIHC Awards Four Honors to Leaders in Advocacy and Public Education

Winner: State and Local Organizing Award

North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People (North Dakota)

North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People (NDCHP) created a coalition to establish the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund, a $15 million housing trust fund dedicated to the development and preservation of affordable housing and supportive services. NDCHP organized a broad coalition that led to the creation of the Housing Alliance of North Dakota (HAND), which led the campaign for the housing trust fund. Additionally, NDCHP and HAND used various strategies to create a strong broad base of advocates, create legislative champions, and inform the public and media about the state’s housing crisis and the need for the Housing Incentive Fund.

Winner: Resident Organizing Award

Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants (Massachusetts)

The Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants (MAHT) successfully lobbied Senator Scott Brown and other members of the Massachusetts legislature to support full funding of HUD rental programs and produce amendments to the FY12 budget that would provide funding for HUD housing potentially at-risk of being converted to market-rate housing. One amendment extended Enhanced Voucher protections to at-risk tenants in buildings with expiring HUD mortgages, and the other authorized project-based vouchers in lieu of tenant-based vouchers for certain expiring affordability programs, which ensures long-term affordability for qualifying homes.

Shelterforce Article

NLIHC Announces 2012 Award WInners

Winner: State and Local Organizing Award

Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (Massachusetts)

Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) defeated a ballot initiative effort to repeal Massachusetts’ affordable housing law, which had accounted for the creation of 58,000 homes and 80% of new affordable housing over the previous decade. CHAPA played a vital role in the organizing process, leading to a broad coalition that included elected officials, and business, labor, religious, environmental, civil rights, elderly, and disability leaders and organizations. The campaign used a variety of strategies to achieve success, such as securing more than 1,600 endorsers including all four of the state’s gubernatorial candidates, conducting public opinion polls and focus groups to test effective messaging, conducting research on the success of the affordable housing law, and producing television and online ads. They also developed a rapid response team and produced media to highlight the success of the law.

Winners: State and Local Organizing Award (shared)

Neighborhood Partnerships as convener of Oregon Housing Alliance (Oregon)

Neighborhood Partnerships successfully advocated for the passage of the 2009 Housing Opportunity Bill to provide an ongoing source of funding for multifamily housing production, homeless prevention, and affordable homeownership opportunities. The bill increased the state’s existing document recording fee, which was expected to triple funding for affordable housing in the state. Oregon Housing Alliance, comprised of more than 70 member organizations, expanded its membership and coalition base, created county-specific data sheets to educate legislators, and organized advocacy leaders and tenants for lobby visits to gain support for state legislators.

Community Alliance of Tenants (Oregon)

Oregon’s Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) was very involved in the campaign to pass the 2009 Housing Opportunity Bill to increase funding for affordable housing. They also organized tenants to improve Oregon’s landlord-tenant law and defeated a proposal to use dedicated affordable housing funding for the purpose of building a baseball stadium. Finally, they helped pass a new process for building code inspections in Portland.

Neighborhood Partnerships accepting award