Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) spoke in support of the new “Opportunity Starts at Home” campaign launched at the Forum, speaking about the critical intersections between affordable housing and many other sectors and about the centrality of affordable housing to personal well-being.
Mr. Brown spoke of the importance of NLIHC’s dedication to housing for low income renters. He pledged that as the ranking member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee he would fight the cuts to federal affordable housing programs proposed by the current administration and would champion legislation that helps people keep roofs over their heads. Mr. Brown noted that the committee on which he is ranking member is referred to as merely the “Banking Committee;” he said that if he is fortunate enough become the chair of the committee (if and when Democrats regain the Senate), he will reinstate “Housing and Urban Affairs” in its name.
Mr. Brown stated that “home equals life,” an idea inspired by his reading of Matthew Desmond’s acclaimed book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, and stressed that when someone is evicted, the negative consequences spill over into many other areas of their lives - their health, employment, education, and more - and affects their ability to thrive and get ahead. Referring to the centrality of affordable housing to people’s lives, Mr. Brown again referred to Dr. Desmond: “The rent eats first.”
The senator urged the audience to tell their personal stories when meeting with members of Congress to demonstrate how housing impacts families and communities broadly. Mr. Brown went on to discuss the persistence of racial and wealth inequities inequalities in America, and the harsh and inaccurate stereotypes placed on the poor, which often disproportionately impact people of color.
He commended the resilience and the entrepreneurial spirit of the advocates at the Forum and others who persistently push for protecting and expanding affordable housing for low income people. He urged advocates to continue to speak up and take action.