Advocacy is defined by Habitat for Humanity as “changing policies and systems to eliminate barriers to adequate, affordable housing in order to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” In other words, while not visible like homes themselves, laws, regulations and rules about land and building are a major part of housing. Smart policies and systems can promote access to decent housing, while uninformed policies and systems may create unnecessary barriers, making it harder than it needs to be to find land for construction, build the home itself or be able to afford a place to live. Just like building, advocating for smart policies and systems is a way to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
In keeping with the Annual Strategic plan, Asheville Area Habitat’s Board of Directors recently endorsed our new Government Relations and Community Engagement (GRACE) team, currently comprised of four Habitat staff members. The mission of the GRACE team is to advocate for public policies that support Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. By offering our volunteers, donors and homeowners a new way to get involved, we aim to use our numbers to shape public opinion and educate policymakers on issues that promote access to safe, decent, affordable housing.
So far the GRACE team has organized a letter writing campaign urging Congress to vote against eliminating funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service including AmeriCorps. But they are just getting started! If you would like to be involved, you can sign up for our text alerts and/or email lists. These lists will enable us to mobilize our supporters to act quickly on issues that are important to our organization and the people we serve. From your mobile phone, text buildlouder to 51555 to register for text alerts, and/or click here to sign up for our Advocacy email list.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity International’s approach to Advocacy, check out this link.
Affordable Housing Crisis in Asheville
The need for affordable housing is great and growing in Asheville where housing costs (to buy or rent) have returned to pre-recession prices, there is a vacancy rate of less than 1%, and a rapidly growing population. Too many people that work in Asheville, can’t afford to live in Asheville.
Click here to read various essays in the Mountain Xpress that answer the question: “What would it take to solve the Asheville area’s affordable housing problem?” Among them is the opinion of our Executive Director Lew Kraus and another from one of our homeowners, Shannon Kauffman.
Click here to read the Bowen report commissioned by the City of Asheville, as well as the 5 Year Consolidated Plan that identifies needs and priorities for housing and community development activities for the next five years.
Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country rely on the important work of national service members through programs like AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA. For the past 20 years, these members have helped manage, organize and lead thousands of Habitat volunteers, or support the daily operations of affiliates. If funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is cut as proposed by some in Congress, the capacity of Habitat affiliates to serve partner families would be greatly reduced. Click here to tell Congress to adequately fund CNCS in the fiscal year 16 budget to help Habitat fulfill its mission.