I like to think of the NAHREP National Advocacy Committee (NAC) as an organization within the larger NAHREP organization. For those of you who care about making a difference for Latinos, and care about policy, there is a home for you within NAHREP and I have every intention of working with all of you to make NAHREP the most powerful Latino organization in the country. The NAC, like most of NAHREP, is made up mostly of volunteers – passionate individuals who want to work together, learn together, and grow our voice together. On the national staff we have a small but mighty group of people who are dedicated full time to supporting these efforts. The team consists of two rock stars, Jaime Smeraski and Dustin Robinson, as well as myself. But there’s another group that is critical to our efforts: our lobbyists.
Hi. My name is Noerena, some call me Noe. Mi familia es Mexicana and my parents immigrated to this country in the 70s and 80s. They, like the majority of people who came to the U.S., came to this country in search of opportunity. The immigrant story and the plight for immigration reform has been a driving force in my life. However, as a Latina-American, I care just as much about justice and freedom for my Cuban brothers and sisters marching on the streets of Havana right now as I care about my Texan DACA recipients (many who are part of our NAHREP familia) who have been told by the state government that DACA is illegal. El pueblo Latino is one.
After a year and a half of working from home, I finally saw many of you in Miami this week for our Southeast Regional Event. I almost can’t believe I got to hug, break bread, dance, and simply get inspired by each other’s energy and love for our beautiful Latino community. There truly is nothing like being able to feel the power of NAHREP energy in person. I’m so pumped for everything we’re about to accomplish.
It’s time for another wonky policy term of the week explained. If any of you want to understand what in the world is happening right now in Congress with this infrastructure bill that seems to be moving at tortuga speed, let’s try to define another term the politico types throw around like pizza dough: reconciliation. What the heck is reconciliation? No, its not what happens with your significant other after she/he/they pissed you off and then cooked you your favorite meal to lure you through your stomach. In this case, it’s a tool used in Congress to get tough things passed.
Infrastructure. This term has been thrown around a lot. This is all that Congress is talking about, all that President Biden is talking about, and quite frankly, a lot of what we’ve been focused on this year as the National Advocacy Committee. But what is infrastructure? We usually think of bridges, roads, and transportation when we think of infrastructure, public projects that get us from one place to another. By this definition, broadband and internet are definitely infrastructure – as that is the way we travel (zoom meetings!) and communicate in today’s world.
Who saw In the Heights? If you haven’t, que carajos esperan? Listen up, if we want representation in Hollywood, and we want to change the narrative about Latinos, showing up at the box office when we’re on the main screen is the least we can do. Lin Manuel Miranda shared our stories, one of familia, comunidad, and powerful sueñitos that keep us alive and hungry (in a good way). “Start small, dream big.” Isn’t that how we all got started? Seeing those choreographed scenes of beautiful Latino faces dancing to the vibrant beat of our music, filled my heart in a way few things have during this past year.
Raise your hand if you hear people talk policy and you zone out mostly because they keep using strange words that you don’t understand? I spent over a decade in Washington D.C., a town where people talk in acronyms. Before NAHREP, I spent 6 years working at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), where it was seen as perfectly normal to say something like, “Since the HMDA working group finalized the ANPRM, there’s an OPM meeting at the EEOB to discuss collaboration between FHFA and the CFPB. Make sure you bring the RESPA proposal!” Como dice mi mama, “Apenas se puede creer!”
What is more valuable than gold right now and is adding fire to our housing inventory crisis? You got it: LUMBER! First, we were out of toilet paper, then we couldn’t find any disinfectant wipes anywhere, and now, lumber. I know many of you have seen the memes or the TikToks by now of just how crazy this whole “run on lumber” has gotten, so I thought I would give you a quick timeline of how we got here:
I have a challenge for all of you: Let’s show the country how powerful our network actually is. We put a lot of work into our State of Hispanic Homeownership Report. It’s how we measure progress, how we get the country to see the power of investing in the Latino community, and it is also the way we change the narrative about Latinos in the U.S. Latinos are the engine behind the housing market and therefore, behind the U.S. economy. It is time more people realized that.
First of all, a major shout-out to everyone who participated in NAHREP’s 2021 Capitol Hill Visits over the past two weeks. In total, NAHREP did 42 meetings and 202 of you participated in at least one meeting. Major kudos to our chapter leaders from around the country and our Government Affairs Directors. From Illinois to Texas, California to Florida, we traveled the country virtually, passionately advocating on behalf of our mission. But it doesn’t end there!