By Ann Patterson
Ann is the Advocacy Chair for Wichita Habitat. She also is a member of Habitat’s U.S. Council Advocacy Committee. Here she shares an update on the committee’s work.
I recently virtually attended my first U.S.Council Advocacy meeting which included members from all over the country. We were briefed on the status of the next COVID-19 relief package. Republicans and Democrats are working to pass a bill, but the amounts contained in the bill are still to be negotiated. There is doubt whether the bill will be passed by the end of August but certainly by early September. Funding of Habitat for Humanity International’s top priorities of HOME, SHOP, CDBG and other programs appears to be level or increased.
The Council is planning a virtual Habitat on the Hill in early February 2021. In the past, representatives from U.S. Habitat affiliates traveled to Washington, D.C., for the weeklong event. In 2021, Habitat on the Hill will take place on three afternoons with a slate of national-level speakers and lots of participant interactions. Since the event is virtual, attendance is expected to increase. Each state will have the opportunity to meet with their congressional delegates virtually.
In conjunction with other councils within Habitat, a policy brief on race and housing is being developed. We reviewed a draft of this brief which includes an overview of the effect of our government’s laws and policies on race and housing. Included in the brief are action steps to affect change.
The Cost of Home is celebrating its first anniversary and an annual report on the progress and the outcomes of the grant opportunities will be finalized soon.
We received updates from fellow committee members on local efforts. One of the topics was a bill before the California legislature to enable faith-based organizations to build on their own land and streamline all the permitting processes. Another report covered a request of money for federal COVID-19 funds from their county to help residents with rental aid and mortgage relief. Another affiliate was doing a virtual Townhall with a congressman.
Great first meeting and I continue to learn so much.