What is Advocacy?
Habitat for Humanity defines “advocacy” 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.
Every day, more families find themselves in a struggle to keep a decent roof over their heads. Caught in punishing cycles of unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded conditions, or lack of access to land and affordable financing, these families live with a constant burden of uncertainty, stress and fear. Habitat for Humanity California knows that a safe, decent and affordable home plays a critical role in helping families to create a new cycle, one filled with possibilities and progress. Affordable homeownership frees families and fosters the skills and confidence they need to invest in themselves and their communities. The outcomes can be long-lasting and life-changing. This is why we advocate for sound public policy in support of affordable homeownership!
Powerful special interests have led local, state and federal lawmakers to adopt public policies that have led to a significant drop in the overall housing production in California. Additionally, limited government investment in affordable housing has remained focused on rental and transitional housing developments, which leaves a lot of people out of the housing continuum.
The Message – Did You Know?
Affordable homeownership has been under attack in California for the last two decades.
- Homeownership rates in the state are at the lowest since the 1940’s
- California remains the 3rd lowest homeownership rates in the nation.
- In 2017, housing permits issued by local authorities remain well below levels needed to account for population growth;
- The Governor’s 2017-2018 budget did not include any significant financial solutions to the housing crisis.
- The CA Department of Finance Economic Outlook’s projections that low levels of housing relative to demand are expected to continue in 2017 and 2018, contributing to faster inflation in the state.
- The state budget crisis in 2011 led to the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies, the most significant funding source for affordable housing production in the state.
For many years the California housing market has challenged working families; however, the real estate crisis in 2007 exacerbated the structural housing production shortfall and their ability to enter the homeownership market entirely. Rapid increases in home prices and rents continue throughout the state of California and Habitat for Humanity California is committed to supporting our local affiliate’s development projects and partner families, and advocating for additional funding sources, regulatory reforms and the creation of more opportunities for low-income working families to own a home in California.
The primary objective of Habitat for Humanity California’s advocacy agenda is to promote policies and systems to increase access to adequate, affordable housing. Although the economic and social benefits of affordable housing are well documented, the cost of renting a home is at an all-time high, and homeownership in California is at its lowest rate since the 1940s. In California, 2,596,089 households (20%) spend at least half of their income on housing costs. Habitat for Humanity California, with a wide network of local affiliates and volunteers in California pursuing a common advocacy agenda, has the power to influence meaningful policy change at all levels of government.
The following statewide advocacy agenda promotes four key themes and policy solutions that Habitat for Humanity California strongly believes need to be addressed comprehensively to increase access to quality housing and, in turn, improve the lives of millions of families in California.
- Advance homeownership opportunities for lower-income households
- Promote access to a range of safe, healthy, affordable housing options
- Promote financial stability for individuals and families.
- Cultivate and preserve healthy and vibrant communities
How You Can Help!
To advance our advocacy agenda, Habitat for Humanity California encourages all of our affiliates and their volunteers, donors, friends and supporters to contact their elected representatives and community leaders to share the positive impact that safe, sustainable and affordable homes have on millions of Americans each year and urge responsible policies that will address the serious lack of affordable housing throughout the state.
- Find Your Legislator
- Write to your Lawmaker
- Call your lawmaker
- Talk to your lawmaker in person
- Schedule a meeting at a local event
- Tell your lawmakers how you feel about the housing crisis and making affordable homeownership opportunities available to working families in your community.
- Send follow-up communication
- Write a Letter to the Editor
- Talk to your local business community leaders and realtors
- Volunteer (find your local Habitat affiliate/join a global mission trip!)
- Donate to Habitat for Humanity California
- Attend an Upcoming Event
Learn About Advocacy
Join the effort to advocate for more affordable housing opportunities for working families in California
- Habitat CA Advocacy Day 2019 – January 22-23
- Habitat on the Hill 2018 February 12-14, 2019
- Independent Training for Affiliates and Membership Organizations (2018 dates forthcoming)
- Advocacy Tool Kit (Advancing access to housing and improving lives through advocacy: A guide for Habitat for Humanity’s global network)
- Contact us today to set up a private training for your board or organization with our expert team
- Non-Profit Lobbying: A Protected Right – The U.S. Constitution, Congress and the IRS protect the rights of non-profits to engage in advocacy and legislative lobbying. For more information on these federal laws click here