All Politics are Local
Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action
January 20, 2022
Qué onda mi gente?!
The NAHREP Policy Department is currently working long hours to make sure the State of Hispanic Homeownership Report is ready by March 2022. A critical component of the report is the annual list of policy priorities that serves as the basis for our advocacy work for the rest of the year. While these priorities focus on national advocacy, a critical component of our policy priorities is actually local.
NAHREP’s mission is to advance sustainable Hispanic homeownership, and when the biggest impediment to our mission is the record-low level of housing inventory, some of the most important advocacy work we can do is at the local level. The decision of where and when to build more housing comes down to local elected officials, such as mayors and city council members.
That’s why we are asking all of you to help us identify and decide what local initiative your chapter will focus on for 2022. Here is a list of strategies employed by cities across the country to increase the number of housing production:
- Zoning reform to allow for the building of more condos and townhomes.
- Lowering the threshold for housing development approvals.
- Streamlining approvals and permits.
- Lowering restrictions such as parking and height restrictions to allow for the building of more homes and more density.
- Repurposing unused commercial buildings for housing.
- Incentivizing developers to build more entry level housing for first time homebuyers.
- Allowing for the building of accessory dwelling units, fully rentable basements, efficiencies, or tiny homes in existing housing lots.
- Building more housing near transit and jobs.
- Ensuring that housing developments planned for your city include homeownership housing.
- Offering funding for local, small developers who want to buy land and build housing.
These are just some ideas that you can go to your local city with. Or, there might be a certain housing plan that NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) activists have been trying to strike down. You, as a chapter, can work on ensuring that a pro-housing voice is heard.
How to identify what local housing policy issue to focus on:
- Schedule a meeting with your local city council representative. Land use is a critical responsibility of a mayor or city council for any city or municipality. Schedule a meeting with your local city council representative this month and ask them the following questions:
- What is the biggest barrier the city is facing to building more housing, especially housing for first time homebuyers?
- What is the city doing to address that barrier?
- What more can be done?
- Is there legislation or development projects currently being considered or debated that we might be able to help with?
- Schedule a meeting with your mayor’s key housing/land use official. Cities usually have a person in charge of housing or land use, such as a city planner. Your city council member’s staff can connect you with this person. Ask the same questions you asked your city council representative to this individual.
- Schedule a meeting with more than one elected official or housing official. It is important to get the opinion of more than one person. It might be that the person you speak to could be part of why progress on housing isn’t being made. That is why it is important to get more than one opinion.
- Share these findings with your NAC regional. Share this information with your chapter president and Government Affairs Director. These two individuals will share this information with their NAC regional representative. If we do this right, we might be able to develop one of the most effective grassroots campaigns on housing inventory in the country.
Who’s with me? We’re looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!
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.