"Our Homes, Our Votes, Our Iowa" Hosts Candidate Forum with Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro

Our Homes, Our Votes, Our Iowa, a nonpartisan candidate-engagement partnership between NLIHC and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, attracted national attention on June 15 with its first town hall event featuring presidential candidate and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro. The town hall was co-hosted by Iowa: Fight for $15, a political movement advocating for raising the federal minimum wage.

More than 100 people attended, filling the room to capacity. Many arrived early to get a front-row seat and be able to ask their questions. Secretary Castro talked about the importance of investing in affordable housing and previewed his campaign’s housing proposal, which was released in three parts in the following days (see related article in this Memo to Members and Partners). He answered several questions from the audience—each centered on housing, homelessness and fair wages.

“Iowans take the caucuses very seriously—but there has never been an event of this sort where the focus is just on housing.,” said Lauren Johnson, Our Homes, Our Votes, Our Iowa’s organizer. “Advocates and impacted people have never had the opportunity to talk housing during the caucus before—and we’re excited to keep going.”

Also speaking at the event was Lindsey Ellickson, a Cedar Rapids resident who talked about her experience living in Section 8 housing as a child and again while she was a college student and new mom. Ms. Ellickson now works in housing services for a local nonprofit, where her lived experience guides her work and advocacy. Councilwoman Ashley Vanorny of Cedar Rapids also participated in the forum. Elected to city council in 2017, she spoke about the unmet housing needs in her community, especially for senior citizens, and how she is working to support affordable housing in the city.

Our Homes, Our Votes, Our Iowa has invited all candidates to participate in town halls and conversations across Iowa on affordable housing and the needs of low-income residents. More events will be announced soon.

Find tools and resources for non-partisan engagement of presidential candidates on the issue of housing affordability, tips for hosting non-partisan candidate forums, and a webpage tracking what the 2020 presidential candidates are saying and proposing about affordable housing, along with many other resources related to low-income voter engagement at: ourhomes-ourvotes.org

Follow @OurHomesVotes on Twitter and @OHOV2020 on Facebook with the #OurHomesOurVotes2020 for the latest on our efforts to raise the profile of affordable housing in the 2020 elections.