Engaging residents of affordable housing in advocacy and organizing

By Reyna Gillet

On June 6th housing providers and advocates met to learn about what’s next in our efforts to start a resident organizing network here in Oregon.

We met in Salem, and with the help of the organization Community Change, we laid out the steps we will be taking to ensure a successful movement to make lasting change in our state to advance housing justice.

We are asking our nonprofit housing provider partners to invest in a new way of connecting with residents, by bringing front-line staff and residents together, in coordination with the advocacy of the Housing Alliance.

During the meeting we discussed how we will provide resources to strengthen the framework of the network, ensuring those who are the most impacted by decisions and policy will have their voices heard in order to have the most inclusive and equitable outcome.

To do this we will begin outreach, talking to housing providers and allies, recruiting residents of affordable housing and those in need of a safe, stable, and affordable homes. Together we can begin to shape the Housing Opportunity Agenda guided by the voices of those most impacted

They are the experts of their own lived experience .

Residents and those who have experienced housing insecurity know the stress of how their lives were forever changed by the lack of safe, stable, and affordable homes. Their stories are integral to achieving and building a base of resident power and helping to develop relationships among residents and front line staff of affordable housing.

People have power, organizing is a tool to wield that power.

Organizing people, that is, bringing people together to do something collectively and building strength in numbers, can be the most effective way to ensure change will happen through advocacy. Organizing residents with the structure of this network is how we will move to build more affordable housing, protect tenants, and end homelessness. Each year the network will plan actions in coordination with legislative session. They will be a strong presence in shaping housing policy by meeting with legislators, communicating what legislation is being worked on to their peers, and getting out the vote.

Washington and California have been actively building their resident networks and have recently had significant wins at the legislative level and the ballot. This is because of the active participation of the resident organizing networks and affordable housing advocates.

Together we can create a powerful movement for housing justice, and make significant progress to help more Oregonians have access to a safe, stable, and affordable homes.

The network will provide plenty of opportunities for folks to get involved! We will have year-round trainings, community meetings called Power Hours. Resident leaders are encouraged to attend our first annual resident organizing summit! Neighborhood Partnerships’ RE:Conference will also have an organizing tract this year!

We are working hard to make these events happen to empower and educate self-advocates and create community leaders. These housing experts will be the ones who will lend their voices to building the network because their stories matter.

Together, residents of affordable housing and people who are impacted by this housing crisis are a transformative force that can positively and significantly impact legislation and ballot measures statewide.

To learn more about our organizing efforts and how to get involved, contact Reyna at: rgillet@neighborhoodpartnerships.org