Part 2: In June, NAHREP Takes on City Council Meetings!

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

May 12, 2022

Qué onda mi gente?!

Over the next two months, NAHREP will be attending city council meetings all over the country to hold our local city officials accountable and put pressure on cities to build more entry-level housing for homeownership. The housing gap has reached crisis levels. We can no longer wait.

Here’s the deal: no one is asking for more homes for first-time homebuyers. There are folks who are speaking up about affordable housing, which usually means rentals. While more rental housing is important, we can’t forget homes for homeownership! There are also folks speaking up who don’t want anything built in their neighborhood because they don’t want the “character of this city to change.” But if nothing gets built, our housing crisis will only get worse.

If all of our chapters speak up at their respective city council meetings, all of us singing to the same tune, we could be doing some of the most powerful work in the country around housing inventory. To give you an example, the NAHREP Greater Houston Chapter attended their city council meeting this week. The Chapter President and Government Affairs Director (GAD) registered to speak during public comment and spoke up about the need to build more entry-level housing and even challenged the city to build 3,000 new units by the end of the year. At the end of the meeting, the City Planning Commissioner asked for a meeting with the chapter to discuss strategies for building more homes. Yes!

If you don’t know where to start and haven’t read last week’s blog post, I suggest you start there. As a first step, attend your city council meeting just to observe how everything works. Once you’re ready to go: you’ve shown up, observed, figured out who is who and how to sign up to speak, then you’re ready for part 2.

  1. Sign up to speak: Once you’ve figured out how your city council meetings work, sign up to speak during public comment. And, if you want the opportunity to comment after someone presents, look at the agenda. If there is a housing topic on the agenda, you could emphasize the need for entry-level homeownership housing as well.
  2. Bring your business cards: After you speak, I guarantee you someone from the city will ask for a meeting with you and with NAHREP. Come prepared with your business cards so that you can follow up with a meeting.
  3. Practice your remarks. Remember, you only get 1-3 minutes to speak. Timing varies by city. Your comment should be a very brief, to-the-point statement. Whether your meeting is via Zoom or in-person, it is ok to read your statement. There is nothing wrong with that.

Sample scripts that you can use for your public comment:

Sample Script 1:

Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [YOUR CITY]. I am a [AGENT/BROKER/LOAN OFFICER/ETC] have worked in the [YOUR CITY] community for [NUMBER OF] years. I work with a lot of first-time homebuyers who have been priced out of homeownership.

[Share a story. This paragraph is a sample story, please share your own.] I’ve been working with a hardworking family for about a year now. The mom is a teacher, the dad is a bus driver. They qualify for a mortgage, they saved up their hard-earned money. We’ve put over 15 offers already and none of them are getting accepted. In fact, most of the homes I see are going $20,000 – $40,000 over asking or to all-cash buyers, often big investors rather than homeowners. Many of my buyers are also being asked to waive contingencies, including necessary inspections.

We need to build more homes! At the root of all skyrocketing prices and bidding wars is the massive underproduction of homes, particularly entry-level homes for owner-occupants. We know that there is a housing shortage across the board – we need affordable housing and we need rentals – but we need entry-level housing for homeownership most of all. A failure to address this shortage will shortchange our local economy for generations.

I serve on the board of the NAHREP [CHAPTER NAME], National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Our State of Hispanic Homeownership Report shows that there are currently 8.3 million Latinos 45 and under who are mortgage-ready but aren’t homeowners. There simply aren’t enough homes for purchase. I am here to ask our mayor and our city council: what are we doing to produce more homes for first-time homebuyers and to ensure that hardworking families, our workforce here in [CITY], are able to participate in the American Dream of homeownership?

Thank you for your time.

Sample Script 2:

Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME], and I am a [AGENT/BROKER/LOAN OFFICER/ETC] and I am a member/board member of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. NAHREP is the largest Latino business organization in the country with a mission to advance Latino homeownership as the primary strategy for closing the wealth gap. I echo my colleague [name of other NAHREP member who spoke] in his/her sentiments that we absolutely cannot neglect the building of more entry-level housing for homeownership. There is no greater obstacle to Latino homeownership today than the low supply of housing.

One of the most frustrating elements of advocating for housing supply is that we are constantly told that it is someone else’s fault. Our federal and state legislators have said that we have to talk to our local elected officials, and many cities are pointing the finger at their neighboring cities down the road. So here we are.

Over the last 20 years, the annual pace of construction has slowed compared to the three decades before it, resulting in at least 5.5 million fewer units being built nationally. [Optional: Insert local data here.] The housing shortage is only getting worse every single day. So here are some strategies we are urging for [CITY] to do:

  • We can implement zoning reform to allow for more density, including the building of condos and townhomes.
  • We can rezone commercial properties or repurpose unused buildings for housing, including mix-use developments.
  • We can end apartment/condo bans within one-quarter mile of job centers and existing transit stops.
  • We can streamline and lower barriers to housing developments and permit approvals.
  • We can create a funding mechanism or grant for small developers to build homes.
  • And finally, we can ensure that existing development plans include owner-occupied housing.

Thank you for your time.

The bottom line:

Above everything, have fun! You have no idea how powerful you are. Let’s speak up and send a ripple effect throughout the country. If you have any questions, please reach out to us. We are here to help. Also, post your pictures all over social media and tag @NAHREP. Also for our chapter boards, this is a metric we use to determine our yearly chapter awards, so get involved!

Un abrazo!

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.