The winners of the 2019 Organizing Awards were honored on March 28 at NLIHC’s Housing Policy Forum: Seizing the Moment for Bold Solutions. Mutual Housing California (Sacramento, CA) received the State and Local Organizing Award for taking on a year-long voter-participation effort with its 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. Texas Housers (Houston, TX) received the Resident Organizing Award for an initiative called “12 Moms.” 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.
Representatives from the two organizations were present to receive the awards recognizing outstanding achievements in state, local and resident organizing that advances NLIHC’s mission to ensure people with the lowest incomes in the U.S. have access to decent, affordable homes. After receiving the awards, Alexandra Alvarado and Verna Ekpeduma from Mutual Housing California and Ericka Bowman and Daija Jackson from Texas Housers sat down for a conversation with Chrishelle Palay, HOME Coalition director and NLIHC board member. The representatives from each organization were asked about their success, challenges, and takeaways related to building and implementing each campaign.
L to R: Chrishelle Palay, Ericka Bowman, Daija Jackson, Verna Ekpeduma, Alexandra Alvarado
“You are more powerful than you think you are. You don’t have to live in terrible conditions. You can organize,” said Daija Jackson, 12 Moms Tenant Leader at Texas Housers. “You go into it [organizing] and become a friend,” said Ericka Bowman, community organizer at Texas Housers. “You saw properties passing inspections but . . . still in horrible condition. But when we spotlighted the horrible living conditions, HUD actually did something to improve them. The tenants now saw the power in their voices.”
Verna Ekpeduma and Alexandra Alvarado
“I feel acknowledged and respected as resident leader, and I felt incredibly inspired by the other winners to keep fighting to be heard and make change,” said Verna Ekpeduma, a Mutual Housing at Norwood resident member. “This award has energized us,” said Alexandra Alvarado, a Mutual Housing California community organizer. “Being here in DC with such a strong community advocate in Verna, to represent all my fellow organizers, is an honor.”
Representatives from Mutual Housing California and Texas Housers also wrote blog articles about their initiatives. Check out their stories, as well as blogs from other Organizing Award winners and nominees, at: https://hfront.org/
Read NLIHC’s press release on the Organizing Awards at: https://bit.ly/2UDaqd8