In order to truly raise affordable-home development on the state's agenda, elected officials need to understand that the issue of affordable homes is important to voters. Residents of affordable communities represent significant voting blocks to all of our elected officials. Our efforts are greatly enhanced when residents of affordable homes understand how the decisions made by elected officials directly affect their lives and know how to register to vote.
A shared desire to increase the effectiveness of affordable-home advocacy drove a core group of advocates including SCANPH and from around the state to envision a groundbreaking statewide resident-organizing network. Facilitated by Housing California and the Center for Community Change in early 2013, representatives of nonprofit affordable-home developers, resident-service providers, and a variety of advocacy organizations held a series of meetings to discuss the vision and reality of developing a first-of-its-kind resident base of power in California. These meetings have resulted in the launch of the Residents United Network (RUN).
Regionally in the Los Angeles metro region, SCANPH had attended the first statewide meetings and adopted the leadership role in coordinating and leading the efforts of RUN regionally. Why RUN? RUN will provide opportunities to develop the skills of, and build relationships among, resident leaders, advocates, and service-provider and affordable-home developer front-line staff in order to coordinate efforts aimed at ensuring everyone has options for a safe, stable, affordable home. Nonprofits that have implemented resident-organizing activities have identified several benefits of doing so:
•Residents engage in civic life and learn how decisions of elected officials affect their lives.
•Elected officials become educated on affordable home issues and on how their decisions affect residents.
•Power is built with elected officials.
•Residents develop leadership skills.
•Positive press is earned for their communities and organizations.
Earlier this Summer, Robert Dhondrup from SCANPH helped recruit close to forty nonprofit staff and resident leaders from all across the Los Angeles region and gathered the first Los Angeles area regional meeting of Residents United Network (RUN). Twenty-two of the people in attendance were affordable homes residents. The energy was high from the beginning and grew throughout a fast paced four-hour meeting.
The focus of the meeting was to build community, provide leadership opportunities, and popular education on voting and campaigns. From the civic engagement scavenger hunt ice-breaker led by Maydy Bran-Orona of LifeSTEPS to the highly competitive topsy-turvy jeopardy game led by Lisa Ho of Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, the first half of the day wove in lots of fun with popular education on civic engagement. Jorge Rivera from Housing Long Beach did a presentation that drove home the stark reality of the meager voter turn-out of communities of color in Long Beach with their lack of power at city hall. The day ended with a primer by Daniel Rizik-Baer of Skid Row Housing Trust on campaigns and a discussion led by Robert Dhondrup, Director of Communications and Programs, on how more affordable housing funds could be secured for more affordable homes.
SCANPH would like to encourage your nonprofit developer organization to send your resident services staff and resident leaders to our next regional meeting. Please contact Robert Dhondrup at email@example.com if you need additional information.
Residents United Network: Los Angeles Region Meeting and Training
Wednesday, September 24 from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM
1010 Development, 1020 S. Flower, in downtown Los Angeles
(Multi-purpose room where we will be meeting is round the building via the parking lot next door and enter through the rear gate)
We will focus on developing communication skills, voter registration and civic engagement, education on Boomerang funds, and developing cross organizations relationships. Lunch and refreshments will be served. Please let us know you are coming: RSVP to Robert Dhondrup at firstname.lastname@example.org