I get to squeeze in one last post this month, since it’s a Leap Year! 29 whole days to talk about and think about housing justice. How did you do in bringing this conversation to your children? Before the end of the month I wanted to post a little bit about housing justice organizations.
There are lots of shelters, free meals, overflow shelters and government assistance programs out there, designed to give people a warm place to sleep and food to eat when they are homeless. There are also organizations out there whose role is to challenge and change the systems through which people access housing (for example those working on policies that affect mortgage lending policies). There are lots of ways in which we can contribute to these organizations, allowing our money to go towards providing a warm cot and a meal to people experiencing homelessness, or allowing more people to access home-buying without putting themselves at risk of predatory loan practices. But just as there is a vast array of organizations helping out the homeless, there is a diversity of philosophical approaches within those who are helping.
Does the organization you are volunteering with, giving money to, or otherwise supporting view housing as a right? Do their approaches contribute to a world in which homeless people are respected and supported as powerful advocates for themselves? Are their strategies rooted in housing justice? Do they recognize that homelessness is one symptom of a larger economic structure that profits from poverty?
These are questions we can ask ourselves whenever we support an organization.
Here are just a few housing justice organizations that I found that are actively working within a housing justice framework:
The Coalition on Homelessness, based in San Francisco, California, has a powerful, active Housing Justice workgroup, made up entirely of homeless and formerly homeless parents.
The Groundworks Collaborative, here in my town of Brattleboro, VT, whose tagline is ‘basic needs met withdignity’. The board education has included workshops to help board members understand the root causes of poverty, and the front page of their website includes a photograph from their “Coffee and Conversations” program, which is a photography and mixed digital media exhibit that brings together two cross-sections of our community, those who are experiencing/have experienced homelessness and those who have stable housing. Their shelter includes a ‘peer advocacy’ program, empowering former residents to return to the shelter as mentors.
The Housing Justice Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to investigating mortgages, securitization, and foreclosures. They are committed to advocating alternatives to foreclosure and exposing mortgage fraud.
The National Housing Law Project whose mission is to support housing justice by increasing and preserving the supply of decent, affordable housing, improving existing housing conditions, including physical conditions and management practices, expanding and enforcing low-income tenants’ and homeowners’ rights, and increasing housing opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities.
Neighborhood Funders Group has launched the Working Group on Housing Justice and Community Transformation, which intends to convene and organize funders, advocates, practitioners, policymakers, and thought leaders in support of more inclusive and equitable communities of opportunity. The Working Group uses a “housing justice” frame to emphasize the way in which housing and finance policy shape broader patterns of spatial, racial and economic inequality in the U.S. Rooted in a racial and economic justice framework, the Working Group will play a strategic role in shaping the field by fostering collaboration and joint learning among funders and community leaders working at the intersection of housing and community development, corporate accountability and racial justice.
Thanks, everyone! Until next month, when we start to look at treating people from every background with dignity and respect, and especially in regards to race. It’s right around the corner!