NLIHC’s New Vision and Mission Statements
Vision and mission statements are like roadmaps: they indicate where organizations want to go and how they will get there. Last fall, NLIHC’s Board of Directors adopted new vision and mission statements embodying our organization’s commitment to addressing structural racism in every part of our work.
A racially and socially equitable society where everyone has a quality, accessible, and affordable home.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in communities of their choice.
Over the last year and a half, NLIHC has undertaken an organization-wide initiative to advance racial equity and inclusion in its policy analysis and advocacy, research, advocate-mobilization efforts, internal operations, and external relationships. With the assistance of a diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism consultant, NLIHC established an Equity Action Team made up of NLIHC staff to guide and inform the overall direction of NLIHC’s racial equity work. The Equity Action Team drafted a revised mission statement and a new vision statement and reviewed and modified each with input from the president and CEO, the board chair, and the Board Executive Committee.
The vision statement is the first to be adopted by our board, but the mission statement replaces a previous statement, which hadn’t been changed since 2008. The statement – according to which NLIHC was “dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes” – had served us well, but we wanted a new “roadmap” to embody our commitment to advancing policies that center racial equity in housing.
The new mission statement also introduces several new words: “accessible,” “quality,” and “communities.” We decided to include these words because we believe they better capture the characteristics of those homes most likely to enable people with low incomes and people with disabilities to thrive.
How Advocates, Artists, and Storytellers are Reimagining the Past, Present, and Future of Our Communities
The Rise-Home Stories Project brings together multimedia storytellers and housing, land, and racial justice advocates to reimagine the past, present, and future of our communities by transforming the stories we tell about them. The project includes a collection of five innovative works: a video game, a non-fiction podcast, a children’s book, an animated web series, and an interactive platform, all aimed at audiences from frontline and impacted communities. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the body of work produced by the Rise-Home Stories Project was made by and for Black and brown organizers, artists, and audiences. This approach acknowledges that authentic representation of lived experience is vital in using media to build power and activate community.
Dot’s Home is a single-player video game that gives players a chance to explore the harmful systems that dictate our relationships to race and place. Created with help from NLIHC, the game follows a young Black woman in Detroit living in her grandmother’s beloved home. Dot travels through time to relive key moments in her family’s history where race, place, and home collide in difficult choices. Dot’s Home inserts the player into scenarios in which they must make choices about how and where to live in the midst of redlining, urban renewal, and gentrification. In doing so, the game invites players to grapple with a fundamental question: “How did your family end up where it is today, and how much choice did it have in that journey?”
The release of Dot’s Home comes at a time when America is reckoning with a racist legacy of inequality in housing and land that continues to impact communities of color, leaving them at risk of displacement and endangered by predatory real estate practices. “Our goal is to use the game to spark robust and courageous conversations about this country’s fraught history with racialized housing and land policy, while also illuminating our role in creating a vision of a just and equitable future that can become reality,” said Luisa Dantas, project director of Rise-Home Stories Project.
Dot’s Home was created by housing justice advocates from NLIHC, Texas Housers, Public Advocates, and United for a New Economy, as well as other talented contributors from the Rise-Home Stories Project. The advocates who created the game are grateful for the support and technical expertise of an independent and award-winning BIPOC team that included lead developer Neil Jones, lead artist Sanford Greene, lead writer Evan Narcisse, the team at Weathered Sweater, and composer Natalie White.
With a housing affordability crisis being felt from coast to coast and a multitude of challenges – from aggressive gentrification and continuing foreclosures to predatory real estate practices – combining to make stable homes in thriving neighborhoods out of reach for many, particularly in Black and brown communities, Dot’s Home aims to expose the generational impacts of racist land and housing policies while offering a long-term positive vision for our collective future.
Dot’s Home is available for free on PC/Mac and mobile.
To learn more about Dot’s Home, visit: https://risehomestories.com/dots-home/
But Next Time
As disaster and crisis become our new normal, how can collective action create real change from the bottom up? What happens when communities across the country band together to face evermore frequent storms, fires, and floods – and challenge the political indifference and inaction that often follow in their wake? But Next Time is a four-part limited-run podcast that zeroes in on community organizers and residents in California, Texas, and Puerto Rico who take on these challenges while actively building a better future for those BIPOC communities that are often on the frontlines when disaster strikes but relegated to the margins of local and federal responses.
The hosts, Rose Arrieta (of Causa Justa/Just Cause in the Bay Area) and Chrishelle Palay (of the HOME Coalition in Texas), are themselves community organizers and women of color who have been on the frontlines of disasters in the Bay Area and Houston.
“Disasters just have a way of exacerbating existing conditions,” said Palay, who is also a member of the board at NLIHC. “The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and communities of color bear the brunt of discrimination and oppression while trying to rebuild their homes and lives. This podcast seizes on these galvanizing moments by hearing and learning from disaster survivors who actually fought and won despite the odds being stacked against them.” The podcast presents the stories of courageous individuals who have stepped up in the face of unimaginable devastation. One segment focuses on a beloved radio host who broadcasted crucial information in Spanish to migrant workers while the Tubbs Fire engulfed Sonoma, California. Others feature a group of moms who fought for housing justice after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, Texas, and an elected official in Texas whose roots as an organizer influenced her ability to listen to and engage with her constituents. Listeners will also hear about a group of longtime organizers in San Francisco, California, who put their deep experience to work and set up major support systems for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hosts visit Puerto Rico as well, where organizers share lessons about disaster recovery in their communities.
Listen as these community leaders demand change from those in power and work to make sure that the next time a climate-fueled disaster strikes, things can and will be different.
To learn more about But Next Time, visit: https://risehomestories.com/but-next-time/home/
Alejandria Fights Back! / La Lucha de Alejandria!
Alejandria Fights Back! / La Lucha de Alejandria! is a bilingual children’s book that aims to challenge dominant narratives about land, housing, and development by inviting readers to see through the eyes of those who are often most impacted by displacement but least heard: young people.
Alejandria Fights Back! /La Lucha de Alejandria! tells the story of nine-year-old Alejandria, an Afro-Latina girl for whom home isn’t just the apartment she shares with Mami and her abuela – it’s the whole neighborhood. For Alejandria, home is the place where Ms. Beatrice makes yummy picos; where Ms. Alicia sells flowers with her little dog, Duende; and where Mr. Amir has his corner store. But when rent prices go up, people in el barrio start to leave because they can no longer afford their homes. Then, the worst thing happens: Mami receives an eviction notice. Alejandria knows it isn’t fair, and she’s not about to give up and leave. Instead, Alejandria brings her community together to fight and save the neighborhood.
The organizations and artists who created Alejandria Fights Back! / La lucha de Alejandria! aimed to reach families in those communities most at risk of displacement. The book was crafted so that children, their caregivers, educators, and community organizers would see themselves in the narrative. The story educates youth and adults about the issues of gentrification and housing insecurity. More importantly, the book aims to give young people a sense of their power to bring about change when they come together with their neighbors to take collective action.
To learn more about Alejandria Fights Back! / La lucha de Alejandria!, visit: https://risehomestories.com/alejandria/home/
Steal-Estate is an interactive web experience featuring audio storytelling and dynamic illustration that makes the case against the financialization of housing. The work frames financialization as an organized criminal racket that has preyed on vulnerable communities with impunity, especially since the 2008 financial crisis. Adopting a true-crime format, Steal-Estate follows three foreclosure survivors as they get to the bottom of an intricate web of competing corporate interests, predatory housing policies, and the practices that enable them. The three characters discover that they are not alone and join forces with organizers and advocates in the fight to protect their beloved communities.
To learn more about Steal-Estate, visit: https://steal-estate.com/
MINE is an animated narrative web-series that challenges us to shift the way we think about who owns our land and resources and who determines the futures of our communities.
Written and created in a groundbreaking collaboration between artists and housing, land, and social justice activists, MINE is set in the near-future and transports us to Beau Voda, a utopian world where every aspect of life is powered by a miraculous healing water source. In the pilot episode, siblings Blaze and Mia discover that their fair and just community may not be as magnanimous as they imagined when their source of life is threatened. A timely portrayal of the issues and debates shaping our world as seen through the eyes of teenagers, MINE examines themes like climate justice and migration, as well as the conflicts between individualism and collectivism and abundance and scarcity. “In the wake of this pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to redefine how we relate to each other and the world around us,” said Mike Leyba, a MINE co-writer and the Director of Development at City Life / Vida Urbana. “MINE reveals that we already have everything we need to make a better world possible right now, should we choose to be brave, be imaginative, and organize our people to make it so.”
To learn more about MINE, visit: https://risehomestories.com/mine/