Recognition of exemplary state and local organizing
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) announced today the recipients of the 2022 Organizing Awards: Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) and Housing Equity Now St. Paul (HENS). WLIHA will be honored with the 2022 Statewide Organizing Award, and HENS will be honored with the 2022 Local Organizing Award.
The annual NLIHC Organizing Awards recognize outstanding achievements in statewide, local, or residential organizing that emphasize tenant- or resident-centered organizing and leadership and advance NLIHC’s mission of achieving racially and socially equitable public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in communities of their choice. The 2022 Organizing Award winners will be recognized on March 23 at NLIHC’s Virtual Policy Forum 2022: Achieving Housing Justice.
NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel congratulated the honorees on their extraordinary work to strengthen renters’ rights, expand resources for affordable housing, and bring racial equity to the forefront of the housing justice movement. “Sustained advocacy at every level of government is essential to achieving housing stability for the lowest-income renters and remedying racial inequity in the housing system,” she said. “NLIHC is honored to recognize the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and Housing Equity Now St. Paul for their transformative organizing victories and commitment to elevating the leadership of directly impacted communities.”
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) will receive the 2022 Statewide Organizing Award for its effective advocacy in securing statewide tenant protections and significant housing investments in the 2021 legislative session. WLIHA mobilized thousands of constituents to reach out to their state legislators, participate in a virtual advocacy day, testify at hearings, sign letters in support of affordable housing priorities, and advocate on social media. The Resident Action Project (RAP), which organizes people with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability, played an essential role in setting the legislative agenda, building grassroots support, and educating elected officials about the impact of housing policy on their communities. Thanks to the advocacy of WLIHA and RAP, the state legislature passed a suite of transformative housing resources and tenant protections in the 2021 session – including statewide right to counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction, Just Cause Eviction legislation, a document recording fee as a permanent funding source for housing stability programs, and a state budget with $1.7 billion in housing resources.
“The policies we passed last year created a more just and equitable housing system that will last well beyond the pandemic,” said Rachael Myers, executive director of WLIHA. “That progress was possible because of years of organizing led by our incredibly talented staff, RAP members and other impacted people sharing their experiences and organizing their communities, and advocates across the state speaking up over and over.”
Housing Equity Now St. Paul (HENS) will receive the 2022 Local Organizing Award for its Keep St. Paul Home Campaign, which led the movement for passage of a rent stabilization ballot measure in the 2021 municipal elections. HENS – a coalition led by low-wealth communities and Black and Indigenous people and other people of color in St. Paul – collected more than 9,100 petition signatures to put rent stabilization on the ballot and made nearly 248,000 voter contacts during election season. The campaign mobilized its grassroots base of volunteers to get out into the community and speak directly with their neighbors. The ballot measure ultimately passed with 53% of voters in support. In addition to this significant victory at the ballot box, Keep St. Paul Home sparked a citywide conversation about housing and racial justice.
“HENS is excited to accept the Local Organizing Award, and we hope that our learnings and success with the Keep St. Paul Home campaign inspires organizers across the country to build up renter power and run values-based campaigns that win strong policies,” said Tram Hoang, campaign manager for Keep St. Paul Home. “Our campaign grew out of decades of organizing in the communities most impacted by housing injustice and countless renters who have told us that something must be done to stop predatory practices and egregious rent spikes that are specifically targeting and disproportionately harming households of color. We didn’t wait for policymakers – we leveraged the power of the people and direct democracy to do this for ourselves. This victory is a testament to renters demanding our dignity and the transformative impact of community organizing.”
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