Half the battle is showing up
Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action
November 18, 2021
Qué onda mi gente?!
NAHREP is a business organization, and it’s also an economic mobility organization committed to building generational wealth for our familias. But most importantly, NAHREP is an organization committed to building leaders.
A NAHREP member is not only successful in their business, they are also exceptional leaders, in and out of the NAHREP familia. But, to be exceptional, we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. It is the only way we grow.
One way I’m challenging all of you to do that is to show up to city council meetings and speak up during public comment. I want to give a big shout-out to the Temecula Valley Chapter who have made it a point to show up to every city council meeting wearing their NAHREP t-shirts. They have become such regulars that the city council has now come to know them. They were asked last week to participate in a roundtable discussion on housing because they have established themselves as critical housing stakeholders. The act of simply showing up, meant that they are now “at the table” when it comes to policy making in their city. Bottom line, it pays off to show up and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD IN CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
During the past two years, most city council meetings have happened virtually, making it easier for you to make a public comment. Most are now back to in person, giving you an opportunity to deepen relationships. Whether virtual or in-person, all you have to do is share your stories and urge city officials to do something about the underproduction of housing.
It is so much easier than you think. See below for a step-by-step guide:
- Learn when the next city council meeting is going to be held. Go to your city website and search for a schedule of city council meetings; most are held twice a month. Put these meetings on your calendar and make it a point to show up every once in a while. Better yet, break it up with members of your chapter so at least one person is attending once a month. NIMBYs (or Not in My Backyard activists) who don’t want anything built ever, constantly show up. However, folks who are pro-housing production do not. We have to change that. Build it into your business plan, or make it part of your chapter board bonding time! Who’s down for city council meetings and margaritas afterward?
- Review the meeting agenda. A week before each meeting, the city council releases the agenda. Find out if they’re going to be discussing land use, housing developments, or city planning, and make sure you or someone in your chapter shows up. If those topics aren’t on the agenda, make a public comment urging the city council to add them.
- Show up, and sign up to speak. Most city council meetings require you to sign up at least 15 minutes before the start of the meeting. Try to sign up online, or arrive 30 minutes early to do so in person.
- Go to the microphone and speak up! Every city council meeting will have a period of “public comment” where you can share a concern or speak about what you want your city officials to be doing. This is where you can talk about what you and your clients are experiencing in terms of low housing inventory. Pro-tip: Dress professionally so people take you seriously.
- State your name and where you live. It’s important to establish yourself as a constituent (you vote in that district/city). When you introduce yourself, state the area of the city you live in.
- Voice your opinion. Talk to the city council as a whole. Don’t be disorderly or verbally attack anyone and don’t use your time to promote your business. It is ok to say what you do, but your message will better received if you lead with our mission. Use the data in the NAHREP State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, that’s what it’s there for! Here’s a sample of a very basic statement of what to say. As simple as this is, it goes a long way.
“We have a severe housing shortage in our city. Homeownership is the best way working families can build wealth. However, many families I deal with as a real estate agent/loan officer are cut out of the homebuying process altogether because the shortage in housing is resulting in housing prices that are out of reach for many first-time homebuyers. (Share a story of what you’re seeing). What are you doing to address this problem at the city level? We can’t afford to not do anything. We need to build more homes, and we need to make sure we build homes for homeownership.”
- Speak for no more than 3 minutes. Someone will give you a 30-second warning when you’ve almost reached the 3-minute mark. Note that council members might not answer or talk back to you while they’re presenting, but they may respond more broadly later in the meeting about the issue. Sometimes it’s only 1 minute! Just ask. It should also say so on the website.
- Meet the city council. After the city council meeting, go up to the city council members and introduce yourself and tell them about your involvement with NAHREP. Follow up on what exactly is being done to address this issue in the city and ask how you can be a part of the solution.
Half the battle is showing up. It’s amazing how many silly laws get passed in cities because someone showed up and spoke up. Speak up. You have more power than you think. And this issue isn’t silly!
Un abrazo familia.
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.