Harnessing the Power of Advocacy
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless merged on October 1st, 2011, becoming one organization. The merged organization, operating as the Housing Alliance, will advocate for the continuum of homeless and low-income housing needs across the state.
We asked a colleague who works with housing and homelessness advocates across the country about his impression of this development. "This merger is another example of how advocates in Washington are leading the way for advocates across the country. Now more than ever, we need to break free from the artificial silos of affordable housing, homelessness and support services, and come together under the banner of social justice. Our power grows when we unite ourselves." --Michael Anderson, Affordable Housing Organizer, Center for Community Change
Members of both organizations believe that this move will lead to a stronger statewide advocacy organization, harnessing the power of a more unified movement. The Housing Alliance will continue to advocate for the continuum of housing needs, from ending homelessness to maintaining and preserving homeownership opportunities for low-income households, but will do so more efficiently, and with a stronger, collective voice.
According to Troy Christensen, President of Board of the Coalition for the Homeless, “The work of the two organizations is already closely tied and we believe we will be even stronger when we come together formally. We’re excited about joining the two organizations. We expect the merger to make us more effective advocates for ending homelessness and providing an affordable home for everyone in Washington."
Initially, the Coalition for the Homeless will operate under the umbrella of the Housing Alliance, in order to ensure that members of the Coalition remain involved. “The Coalition has been working to end homelessness since 1984. Providers and advocates across the state feel a strong connection to the organization and we don’t want to lose that with the merge,” said Linda Hugo, Housing Alliance Board President.
Advocates know well that housing and homelessness are interconnected, and the Housing Alliance and Coalition for the Homeless have worked closely together for many years. Every year, the two organizations host a joint advocacy day at the state capitol and their legislative agendas have significant overlap. They worked together last year to try to pass House Bill 2048, to increase document recording fee funds for preventing and ending homelessness and remove the sunset on a portion of those funds. That is expected to be a priority again this year, along with increasing funding for the state Housing Trust Fund which provides housing for people leaving homelessness, low-income first-time homebuyers, farmworkers, and many others who can’t afford market rate housing.
By merging, the Alliance and the Coalition aim to:
· Have greater impact on policy decisions related to low-income housing and homelessness;
· Engage a broader base of grassroots and other supporters;
· Create efficiencies that will free up resources for advocacy; and
· Expand funding opportunities.
The Housing Alliance’s vision is that all Washington residents have the opportunity to live in safe, healthy, affordable homes in thriving communities.
The 22nd annual conference on ending homelessness will take place in Yakima on May 15-18, 2012. Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day will take place in Olympia on January 20th, 2012.
For more information about the merger or upcoming events, please contact Natalia Fior, Development Manager, at the Housing Alliance at 206-442-9455 x201.