Habitat On the Hill 2022 (450 × 350 px)One of the most important ways to pitch in for Habitat is by protecting – and growing – the funding streams that support our work, and advocating for policies that open up access to affordable homeownership for more families.

So, we head for the hills. Or, one hill – Capitol Hill, to be specific.

Each year, Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley participates in Habitat on the Hill, our annual lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of people from the Habitat community – homeowners, volunteers, and staff alike – gather at our nation’s capital to advocate for the funding and policies that make our mission possible.

And while the pandemic relegated this year’s Habitat on the Hill to video calls, we were no less dogged in our efforts to garner support for Habitat among our country’s leaders.

It was a long three days, but to sum it up, here are our three main takeaways: 
1. Affordable housing is not a monolith.

It’s easy to assume that if you support affordable housing, you support Habitat’s work. But the political reality is more nuanced. The vast majority of federal dollars allocated to affordable housing is actually directed to rental housing. Recently, a growing segment is being allocated to address the homelessness crisis. While we enthusiastically support this – and actively work with partners to contribute to these efforts – it’s important to understand that very little federal funding is actually dedicated to affordable ownership housing, the core of our work. And we believe that making ownership housing accessible to more families is the cornerstone for so many other positive outcomes, and an essential piece of the movement toward justice, equity, and opportunity.

At the federal level, most of the funding that Habitat is able to access for our work comes through the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) SHOP Program, USDA 502 Loan Program, and – most critical for Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley – HOME Program. We are focusing our lobbying efforts on these programs, which have a strong track record of empowering families and communities. We’re supporting an increase in fiscal year 2023 to $20 Million for SHOP, $2 Billion for USDA (which supports the work of our rural affiliates), and $1.9 Billion for HOME.

Another important program to advocate for is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, which we rely on particularly for our Home Preservation work. This flexible grant program is an important source of funding, and it helps us keep neighbors in the homes and communities they love.

2. A crucial new source of funding is at stake.
As we speak, the Build Back Better plan is working its way through negotiations in Congress. One key provision under discussion is the Community Restoration and Revitalization Fund (CRRF) – a $3 Billion allocation of funding to HUD with flexibility that allows organizations like Habitat to apply directly for grants. This funding would support a variety of work that is critical to the health of our communities – including funding specifically earmarked to grant organizations working to create or preserve affordable housing.

At Habitat on the Hill, we worked hard to lobby for preserving this fund, because we know what a huge impact it could have on our ability to build and preserve more homes. The CRRF is at stake now, and you can raise your voice in support.
3. Affordable homeownership is becoming a key issue across the country.

We’ve known that we’re in a homeownership crisis for years here in California. But at this year’s Habitat on the Hill, we found that the issue is raising alarm bells throughout the nation, with homeownership rates falling across the board – it’s an issue now cutting across regional lines and socioeconomic lines. All signs are pointing to a lack of supply throughout the country, and housing prices that are leaving more and more families out of the opportunity of homeownership. Homes once considered affordable are growing more expensive, and those who are fortunate enough to afford a home are paying more for less. And if your family earns a limited income? You’re being pushed further out to the margins, displaced by rising home prices. Our communities are seeing longtime families, rooted for generations, now leaving their neighborhoods.

While this is unfortunate news, this does mean that the need for more supply and homeownership opportunities – particularly affordable homeownership opportunities – is becoming a more widely recognized issue at the national level. It’s an opportunity to come together in common cause, across lines of geography or political affiliation, and find the political will to make change.

So, where do you come in?

This is the part where you can make yourself heard.

  1. Contact California's representatives and let them know you support an allocation of $200 Million from the state’s budget surplus to CalHome, for new home production.

    Click here to find you state representative's contact information.

  2. Tweet at Congress urging their investment in affordable housing! 

    Click here to automatically send tweets to your congresspeople.

  3. At the federal level, you (and your friends and family from across the country!) can email congress and let them know that you want:
    • $1.9 Billion in FY2023 funding for HUD’s HOME Program.
    • Funding for the CDBG Program.
    • $3 Billion in funding for the new CRRF – this is at stake now!

    Click here to easily send your email to congress!



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