Habitat on the Hill
by Sami Wallace, Clark Construction and Habitat NOVA Junior Board Member
For the first time in Habitat on the Hill history our visit to Capitol Hill began with a rally in front of the Capitol Building. Over 400 affordable housing advocates chanted “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Housing Costs have got to slow” and “What do we want? Affordable Housing! When do we want it? Now!” We were joined by the co-sponsors of the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, from both sides of the aisle. The NHIA is the first piece of legislation that Habitat for Humanity has ever endorsed. Typically at Habitat on the Hill we concentrate on appropriations asks. This year was very different.
Starting on Monday, a group of emerging young leaders (including myself) did an advocacy workshop to learn how we could influence local, state, and national elections toward prioritizing affordable housing. We also learned how to tell our story to legislators that we would meet later in the week. For the next two days, there were workshops on Election Engagement, Banking Regulations, Federal Hot Topics, and many more. We heard from speakers like Kelly O’Donnell (White House Correspondent), Rep. Earl Blumenauer, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. The overall message of Habitat on the Hill 2020 was to get out the vote and help your community understand how affordable housing is affected by all elections.
On Wednesday I set off to Rayburn and Longworth House Office Buildings with two Habitat Government Relations interns to meet with local legislators. Rep. Don Beyers and Rep. Gerry Connolly’s offices were very welcoming and always support the Habitat agenda. They were thrilled to hear that Habitat for Humanity is now becoming more involved with the legislation passing through the House and Senate and took requests to co-sponsor the NHIA back to their representatives. Rep. Jennifer Wexton was kind enough to meet with us in between votes and is a long time supporter of Habitat. Meeting with all of the representatives in Habitat NOVA’s work area was incredible and the feedback was very positive from every office.
As local, state, and national elections are coming up in 2020, remember to keep affordable housing in mind!