So, it turns out that April is “Fair Housing Month” - a time to celebrate the Fair Housing Act which passed in 1968 in the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination. It is considered the final great legislative achievement of the civil rights era. But sadly, as we’ve just heard, economic injustice, racism, white flight and gentrification are plaguing residents of affordable housing and the neighborhoods they live in, and the fundamental issue of access is still a critical concern. In fact, in 2016, 3.9 million extremely low-income families in the US lacked access to affordable housing.
Last month, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state, along with Washington city mayors, and A.C.T.I.O.N. (or “A Call to Invest in Our Neighborhoods”), a coalition of over 1,300 national, state and local affordable housing advocates, launched a national campaign to increase federal resources for affordable housing. This group is calling for a 50% expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, which would finance approximately 400,000 additional units of affordable housing nationwide over the next decade.
While tax credits may not seem like the most progressive call to action, it is one of most strategic moves available with a record of bipartisan support. The bottom line is not that complicated - we’re talking about subsidizing low-income housing development. What we’re up against, of course, are the people who often oppose this type of housing in their neighborhoods for all of the obvious reasons: ignorance, fear, etc. But their fears of dropping property values are hardly ever the reality, especially when the projects are well-managed and built in diverse neighborhoods with affordable transportation options. This is the message that needs to be amplified by our representatives.
In a recent meeting with local Washington business people, Senator Cantwell said:
“We need the leagues of cities to get all their mayors to write to all their senators asking to support this concept … we need every city council and every mayor across the United States talking about this.”
And that’s where you come in. Reach out to your legislators and tell them you support the expansion of LIHTC, then go one step further by asking them to deliver a report outlining the state of housing affordability in your state or district. You can also help spread the word about this plan of action by talking about the proposal on social media using the hashtag #LIHTC and tagging your legislators’ accounts.
If you’ve struggled with access to affordable housing or homelessness, consider sharing your story with Senator Cantwell so she can make the case for the LIHTC expansion on Capitol Hill.
If you’d like to get more involved in on the ground efforts, find your local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) who are oftentimes driving the development of affordable housing projects from the outset. Community-wealth.org is a great place to search for a CDC or similar organization.
So, if providing decent housing and economic justice for those living below the poverty line is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about the campaign to increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
As we come to the end of “Fair Housing Month” let’s reflect on the moral that the true test of a civilization is providing a decent provision for the poor. Now, what would Dr. King do?
Reach out to your legislators by phone, mail, email or social media and urge them to support Senator Cantwell and A.C.T.I.O.N.'s Campaign to Increase Federal Resources for Affordable Housing.
Go one step further and ask your legislators to deliver a report outlining the state of housing affordability in your state or district. Pass on the easy-to-read report "Addressing the Challenges of Affordable Housing and Homelessness: The Housing Tax Credit," recently released by Senator Cantwell, as an example.
Use the hashtag #LIHTC to discuss and promote the benefits of the LIHTC increase on social media.
Find and get involved in a local Community Development Corporation: http://community-wealth.org
If you’ve struggled with access to affordable housing or homelessness, consider sharing your story with Senator Cantwell so she can make the case for the LIHTC expansion on Capitol Hill: https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/affordable-housing-and-homelessness/form
Senator Cantwell and A.C.T.I.O.N.'s Campaign to Increase Federal Resources for Affordable Housing (via Cantwell.senate.gov)
For more affordable housing, expand tax credits, Cantwell says (via Bremerton Patriot)
Clinton, Sanders Outline Housing Plans (via Affordable Housing Finance)
Bernie Sanders' Last Word to New York Voters: The Democratic Candidate for President Lays Out His Affordable Housing Agenda (Bernie Sanders via The New York Daily News)
Hear the Segment in Context:
Episode #1007: "No Place Like Home" (History of Gentrification)
Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman, with research assistance by city planning-expert listener Ryan Wozniak (Thanks, Ryan!)