National Advocacy Committee Blog: LET’S GET LOUD!

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

Que onda mi gente?

I’m still buzzing from this weekend’s Super Bowl performance by our Latina powerhouses J-Lo and Shakira. Sidenote, Shakira is my favorite artist/celebrity of all time. I’m talking posters all over my teenage room, knowing every lyric by heart, wanting to be her, type of fan. To hear her perform, alongside J-Lo, Demi Lovato and Bad Bunny, in this most “American” of events made my heart explode. Orgullo Latino, con dos mujeres talentosas, y hermosas. My favorite commentary of the night was hearing our NAC Regionals Denisse Roldán Newell and Rebecca Soto talk about how they were inspired to let their hair grow out, swap girl scout cookies for lettuce and take on dance lessons after that performance. Uh, me too!

Aside from the excitement of seeing so many strong Latin artists perform on such a key national stage, these performers used this platform to inspire another very explicit message:

It’s time to get loud. Silence is not an option.

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

For all of the pride we felt in seeing our mujeres up on stage and blowing every other half time show out of the water, the message behind their performance underscored important political realities with powerful symbolism.

  1. Little girls were featured dancing inside of round cages, shedding light on the fact that our nation’s immigration policies have led to us putting kids in cages. Kids, just like our kids, our brother’s and sister’s kids, or our grandkids, were placed in inhumane conditions, and some have died under U.S. watch due to simple negligence, such as failing to provide soap.
  2. J-Lo proudly draped the Puerto Rican flag across her shoulders while her daughter sang “Born in the U.S.A.”, and J-Lo’s rocked her hit song, “Let’s Get Loud”. Despite Puerto Ricans being born U.S. Citizens, over half of the U.S. doesn’t realize they are Americans. Then we wonder why our Isla Del Encanto gets struck by one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history and a massive earthquake, yet disaster aid is slow to come and far inferior to the response received by disasters on mainland U.S.

Perception is everything. How people are valued determines how policy treats them. This is why L’ATTITUDE is so critical. No one will change the narrative unless we do. This is why we need to continue to speak up, become involved and get loud.

Thank you to all of you for taking the first step by joining our National Advocacy Committee, the NAC. We are in a critical juncture in history and NOT speaking up is not an option. We can live our lives focused on the immediate, pretending these broader political or policy issues don’t apply to us, but they do. We are part of a greater whole whether we like it or not. Let’s not forget that silence is the greatest form of complicity.

First up, we need register to vote. Go to today. We have to vote, and we have to vote in droves, showing up like it’s a Black Friday Sale or Latinos at a World Cup game. NO ONE in NAHREP stays home, entendido? Because #NAHREPVOTES.

Lessons learned from the SB 50 fight in California

For the first time ever, NAHREP engaged in a state legislation campaign in support of California’s Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), the More Homes Act, a bill intended to overhaul California’s zoning restrictions across the state. At NAHREP, we know the low levels of housing inventory continues to be to be the number one barrier to advancing sustainable Hispanic homeownership, an issue best addressed at the state level.

Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu, Associated Pres

Today, it is illegal to build anything besides single-family dwellings in 80% of California. SB 50 would “upzone” much of this space, allowing for developers to build duplexes, triplexes, or fourplexes, if they would like to. Larger counties considered “job-rich” or “transit-rich”, would be upzoned even further, allowing for taller buildings and even more homes. While California’s SB 50 did not pass in the CA Senate floor, it was still a win for NAHREP because of what we learned in this fight.

California is the test case for the rest of the country. What gets passed in California sends a ripple effect to other states experiencing similar issues. This was the biggest housing inventory bill to go on any government body in the country and NAHREP was in the middle of this historic debate.

What we learned:

  • Many NAHREP members called their elected officials for the first time: Calling our elected officials is a big deal. When historic votes like these take place, staff will tally how many people call in support or opposition. When the elected official is on the fence, they need to know that enough people are with them to justify a hard vote. Thank you to our California NAHREP members who took that important step of exercising our power.
  • We built the groundwork for a grassroots operation: We recently implemented our advocacy platform and during the last month our National Advocacy Committee enrollment doubled. This was a test run for the type of work we can do all over the country.
  • We showed people the passion behind our organization: The feedback I got from the meetings we had with elected officials was that NAHREP has a unique and powerful message to share that wouldn’t have been told had we not been in the room.

While SB 50 didn’t pass in California, it can serve as a model for what we can do in other states around housing inventory. States all across the U.S. are experiencing restrictive and exclusionary zoning, just like California, making the housing inventory crisis worse. Let’s take the principles of the bill and bring it to our local legislators all over the country.

DOING NOTHING around housing inventory is not an option. SB 50 taught us that NIMBYsm (Not In My Back Yard) is so strong, it reinforces the need to address production of new units and zoning at the state level. Leaving it up to localities will always result in fingers being pointed towards the next town and the next backyard.

Onwards team. We are the voice of Hispanic homeownership. It’s time to get loud.

About Noerena Limón

Noerena Limón is NAHREP’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy and Industry Relations. Noerena heads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts on issues ranging from homeownership, housing inventory, credit access and immigration.

Prior to joining NAHREP, Noerena spent six years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and served as a political appointee under President Obama in the White House Office of Political Affairs.