February 4, 2021

Philanthropy Moving Forward a Bolder Approach to America’s Housing Crisis

This blog was written by Nile Malloy, Director of NFG's Democratizing Development Program to urge philanthropy to propel a bold approach to the housing crisis. 

Housing advocates and grassroots groups from across the country continue to organize elected officials at the local, state, and federal level for another eviction moratorium, rental assistance, and foreclosure delay relief to slow the rate of some families from being pushed towards the cliff of homelessness. National groups like Right to the City Housing is the Cure; People’s Action Home Guarantee, National Low-income Housing Coalition, and the recently launched New Deal for Housing Justice by Community Change all seek to influence the federal government to move forward a bolder housing agenda for low-income and communities of color most impacted by the triple pandemic: our economy, health, and the fight for racial justice.

Based on the U.S. Census, nearly one in five households are behind their rent or mortgage and according to the Aspen Institute, the US could be on the verge of “the most severe housing crisis in its history” , with an estimated 30 to 40 million people at risk of eviction.  With the Biden-Harris administration on the verge of initiating America’s third jolt of resources to temporarily stem the bleeding of evictions which will extend the federal eviction moratorium through at least March 31. This may only delay the inevitable for renters who have fallen far behind on their payments and are still waiting for aid that’s been promised. Moratoriums and short-term relief are just like filling a pothole on the road to housing justice. It’s insufficient, problematic and systematically not enough. The pandemic has shown us that housing is intersectional and is just as important as work in the South and countless others winning democratic seats in Georgia. Housing is the backbone of our economy and families, as well as where we now teach our kids, work, pray, play and manage our mental health needs. The broader housing movement agrees that America needs a complete housing overhaul, and more philanthropic institutions are welcome to participate more in this critical moment. Philanthropy has to boldly align, partner and move resources to support the growing progressive and bold housing solutions at the local, state and federal levels. 

Communities Can't Wait: Immediate Actions for Housing Solutions

Despite flawed eviction moratoriums and the growing pandemic, powerful housing actions continue to happen in cities across the country. Near the place where George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, multi-racial tenants organized by United Renters for Justice /Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia are working towards community ownership of five buildings for 40 families. With long-term support from the McKnight Foundation they were able to stabilize community organizing, build a tenant union and chart a vision of hope, joy and prosperity together.  

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Housing Action engaged three homeless camps in Philly that announced the city has tentatively agreed to turn over 50 vacant city-owned homes that activists plan to convert into affordable low-income housing. In Oakland, California, Moms 4 Housing and ACCE were fighting against homelessness, gentrification and institutional poverty and reclaimed a vacant house that is now in a community land trust instead of speculators and profitters. One of the community organizers, Carrol Fife, Director of Oakland, ACCE chapter, won a seat on Oakland’s city council beating a two-term incumbent, overseeing the same district where she worked to occupy the property. In Asheville, North Carolina, community groups moved the City Council to pass a reparations resolution that seeks funding for Black people who have been denied housing through racist practices, including redlining, denial of mortgages and gentrification.

These above examples and countless others are the tips of the iceberg of how organizing seeds amazing brilliance to move resources for housing justice in the face of despair. 

Philanthropy Grounding a Racial and Housing Justice Agenda

Philanthropy's unwavering support of groups working to demand that Congress, states, and city leadership respond and support housing needs — including rent moratoriums, canceling rent demands, local bans on evictions, public, and private rental assistance programs — is even more critical while people are still being evicted during eviction “moratoriums.” We believe funders must contribute to the housing, economic, and community needs sweeping the country by: 

  1. Investing deeper and longer towards grassroots and community-based organizing: The fight for our democracy in Georgia once again demonstrated the power of organizing. Housing advocates, tenant unions, community groups and grassroots leadership are at the frontlines of change demanding short-term relief strategies to keep their communities safe, healthy and housed. Philanthropy can continue to support these valiant organizing efforts, with general operating funds, grant increases, and wellness/COVID 19 grants.

  2. Building leadership within your philanthropic institutions: Last fall, Lisa Owens, the Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana, and core partner of the Right to the City will head the Hyams Foundation. The Wieboldt Foundation announced that Jawanza Malone, former Executive Director at Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), one of the oldest Black-led grassroots membership-based community-organizing groups in Chicago will be the new Executive Director of the foundation. Described as one of the country’s most exciting “next generation” political leaders, Gloria Walton, former Executive Director of SCOPE in Los Angeles is committed to creating equitable climate solutions that center the people closest to the problem. Nwamaka Agbo, CEO of the Kataly Foundation and Managing Director of the Restorative Economies Fund. These examples and countless others demonstrate the power of hiring long-term racial justice, economic justice leaders in your institution to help pivot resources to build, repair, and win in this political moment.

  3. Supporting housing and economic justice funder collaboratives: If your institution wants to manage risks or is newer to the housing justice space, fund directly or join a funder collaborative. The Neighborhood Funders Group Democratizing Development Program has been committed to supporting funders to move resources to community organizing, policy change, and powerbuilding efforts at the city, state, and federal level. Our members sparked the development of Fund for Inclusive California and NFG's Amplify Fund, which have moved millions of dollars to grassroots organizations supporting Black, Latino, and multi-racial organizing in eight states. Additional examples include the Neighborhood First Fund and Funders for Housing Opportunity.

  4. Affirming that housing for all is intersectional: Before the pandemic, NFG held a powerful convening with over 120 participants focused on health and housing. Several health funders were already advancing health and housing strategies like The California Endowment, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Grantmakers In Health, Colorado Health Foundation, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Shelterforce, Northwest Health Foundation, New York Health Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, Kresge Foundation and others. Knowing that most foundations need to do another study with high-paid consultants, consider Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor, Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity; Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE); analysis of the power of organizing, health, and power building. He highlighted key health and organizing principles from the “How Community Organizing Promotes Health Equity, And How Health Equity Affects Organizing.” With a new administration and growing health and housing crisis, it’s even more critical for health funders to dive deeper into moving resources to support the ecosystem of housing, equitable development, multi-racial organizing and community power-building strategies. 

  5. Keeping an eye on federal housing policy & deepen resources in places: Several leading housing organizations are focused on the first 100-days and beyond for the Biden-Harris Administration to influence federal housing policy. As mentioned, groups like Right to the City Housing is the Cure; People’s Action Home Guarantee, National Low-income Housing Coalition, National Fair Housing Alliance, Policylink, Urban Institute, the recently launched New Deal for Housing Justice from Community Change, and countless others are moving a range of housing policies to benefit the lives of low-income and communities. Despite different approaches and tactics, the ongoing call from housing leaders for the national, community and placed-based foundations to partner better together is critical. In this political moment, investing in the ecosystem of strategies to address housing and community needs demands bolder intersectional strategies and reframing the “housing crisis” debate to a holistic response of linking education, immigration, abolition, systemic racism, housing discrimination, land theft, speculation and impacts of community disinvestment. 

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January 13, 2022

Saying ‘no’ and rest as resistance: NFG's December 2021 Newsletter

At the beginning of this month, Neighborhood Funders Group hosted our final Member Connection Call of 2021. These calls are informal virtual spaces for grantmakers to truly connect and co-conspire; if you haven't joined one yet, we hope that you will in 2022 — register here for our next call on January 26!

On this year's Member Connection Calls, we've talked about how we're infusing care into our organizations and grantmaking, racial capitalism, racial justice organizing in specific places (and how philanthropy must move more + more + more money to BIPOC and low-income communities), rapid response funding, and lessons revealed to us by the pandemic on how to be better grantmakers and liberate all philanthropic assets.

We've shared the things that never fail to bring us comfort, offered tips for harnessing joy in all of the seasons, and taken each other on trips through our memories to our favorite vacation spots.

After co-hosting Member Connection Calls with NFG's President, Adriana Rocha, for well over a year, I've found that something that someone shares at each call resonates deeply for me. On this December call, it was:

'No' creates space to be a whole person at and outside of work.

It feels fitting to me to be putting the finishing touches on this message to you on NFG's final workday of the year. Beginning tomorrow (December 15), NFG will be closed for a three-week paid administrative break. We're saying 'no' to more meetings, more emails, and more work in favor of pausing, stopping, and creating the space to rest. Because we know from Tricia Hersey at The Nap Ministry that REST IS RESISTANCE.

The NFG team will return to our respective home offices on Wednesday, January 5. Here's a sneak peek into NFG's 2022: we'll be sharing our new theory of change, updating our website and brand, and announcing plans for our 2022 National Convening. And we'll continue sharing how we're centering our culture of care in our efforts to shift power in philanthropy towards justice and liberation.

Truthfully, I don't expect us to feel fully rested when we return — if 'feeling fully rested' is even a possibility in a capitalist world that values grind culture and all too often uplifts white supremacy culture characteristics of perfectionism, urgency, and quantity vs. quality. But I do know that this team-wide break moves us closer to a vision where all of our communities thrive in a liberated world where we are all well, where we are all cared for, and where there is abundance for all —and NFG is invested in this vision.

We look forward to co-conspiring with you to move money to racial, gender, economic, and climate justice in 2022. And we hope that you too say 'no' to what you need to and rest in any & every way that you're able.

Cheers!
Courtney Banayad
she/her
Director of Membership and Communications

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January 12, 2022

2022 Discount Foundation Legacy Award: Call for Nominations

The nominations are now open for the 2022 Discount Foundation Legacy Award!

The Discount Foundation Legacy Award annually identifies, supports, and celebrates an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributed significantly to workers’ rights movements in the United States and/or globally. Through public recognition and a $20,000 stipend, we hope to recognize and amplify the work of individuals at the intersections leading the way toward justice for low-wage workers of color. This is a one of a kind opportunity to recognize the often unheard voices of worker movements — that includes volunteers, members, workplace leaders, and more who are transforming the lives and rights of their fellow low-wage workers of color.

To be eligible for the Award, a nominee must be active in worker justice, including but not limited to organizing and advocacy-related work. Additionally, nominees do not have to be employed at an organization or institution whose mission is to advance worker justice — they can be volunteers, members or other leaders at an organization or workplace organizing effort. We will not be asking questions regarding immigration or other legal status, and nominees do not have to reside in the US.

Nominees need to be nominated by someone other than themselves, through a simple, quick and accessible application process found here. The Award is meant only for individuals. Organizations, groups of individuals or institutions are not eligible for consideration. If you know anyone who you think should be recognized for their significant commitment to worker justice at any level — from a workplace to the neighborhood to the nation — this is your chance to provide them a powerful boost and real resources they can use in whatever way they choose! 

view nomination form

In addition to being publicly recognized for their remarkable contributions to the movement, the 2022 Discount Foundation Legacy Award winner will receive a $20,000 stipend to provide them with the flexibility to expand upon their professional activities and achievements They will not be asked for any reporting requirements, and the funding has no specific strings attached or other specific obligations. The winner of the 2022 Discount Foundation Legacy Award will be invited to be honored at a virtual event in 2022. To learn more about the eligibility requirements and nomination process, please see our FAQs here — and please spread the word about this opportunity to your networks, colleagues and friends!

All nominations must be received by 11:59pm ET on March 7, 2022 through the online nomination form. We’re happy to help answer questions about the award, or support with any trouble you have with the application — please reach out to emily@jwj.org.

Created in partnership with Jobs With Justice Education Fund and the Neighborhood Funders Group’s Funders for a Just Economy, the Discount Foundation Legacy Award was launched in 2015 to commemorate and carry on the legacy of the Foundation’s decades-long history of supporting leading edge organizing in the worker justice arena beyond its spend down as a foundation in 2014. Learn more about the Discount Foundation Legacy Award.
 

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