by Stephanie Watkins-Cruz and Anna Patterson
As we continue to barrel along this legislative session, we’ve had several visits to the General Assembly so far, and from what we know, there are serious efforts to get the budget done by May of this year (originally the goal was Easter). In light of this and in light of the fact that we cannot do any of this work without our amazing coalition network, we hope you join in our first legislative week of action of the season! Beginning March 13 and ending on March 17, 2023, we are asking everyone to call, write, and/or email their house representatives to advocate for affordable housing. Keep reading to learn about what we’re advocating for, who we recommend reaching out to, as well as some best practices for advocacy.
Make sure to also join us on Tuesday March 14, 2023 for a mid-week of action check-in call where we will:
- Review our policy agenda and our specific asks for this budget cycle and Legislative Week of Action;
- Highlight strategies for effectively advocating with your representative; and
- Talk about how you can follow up with us about your lobbying experience. Let us know what you heard and how it went!
What are we advocating for?
There are several things we can advocate for, we recommend checking out our policy agenda here before making contact with your representatives in order to see what our priorities are this legislative session. However, we especially want to emphasize advocacy for the following asks:
- $70 million for the Housing Trust Fund
- $30 million allocation for the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP) AND
- Make the WHLP allocation RECURRING
- Invest remaining ARP dollars into affordable housing
Who can participate?
EVERYONE can participate in this week of action, whether affordable housing is an issue that matters to you because of your work or lived experience, everyone can participate in this event.
If you’d like to set up visits you’re more than welcome to. For this particular week of action, is leaving the facilitation of in person meetings and visits up to you.
How do I participate? Is there anyone other than my representative(s) that I can contact?
Participating is simple. Find your representative(s) in the House, and take down their contact information – you will find their names and contact information . We recommend contacting them a number of different ways such as calling, writing letters, and emailing.
We are especially interested in reaching House leadership, whose names and contact information you will find here. Additionally, we want to highlight and put a call out for advocates in the following areas: Speaker Tim Moore’s district (district 111, Cleveland and Rutherford Counties), Representative Dean Arp’s district (district 69, Union County), or Representative Jason Saine’s district (district 97, Lincoln County). If you live or work in any of these areas, please contact these representatives and talk with them and their staff about the asks we listed above.
Tips on Effectively Lobbying & Directly Communicating to Your Elected Officials
As a housing advocate, you can, and should, lobby your state delegation. It is important to remember that you do not have to be an expert on housing policy to lobby!
Be clear and concise.
- Begin the meeting by introducing the attendees and stating the purpose of the meeting. As you raise your first issue, state your views clearly.
- Remember to start with the problem and then to move on to solutions. Think of an elevator speech–the quick, succinct summary of what your company does and the important issues as they relate to your work.
- Have concrete and specific suggestions for action, such as supporting, sponsoring, co-sponsoring or opposing a bill.
- Tell the Member where you live and work in the district and let them know if you have properties located in their district.
- Include experiences to make key points.
- Speak to values.
- Because all politics are local, make every attempt to show how your issues impact the member’s constituency; reference state and local statistics when possible.
- If you are asked a question to which you do not know the answer, tell your Member or staff person you will find out the answer and get back to them soon. Think of it as an excellent reason to get back in touch with your Member or staff person later.
- Review our Policy Agenda.
- Find your representatives and draft your messages and notes for your phone calls, letters, and emails.
- Join us next week for our housing call next Tuesday at 9:45 on 3/14/2023.
- Call, write letters, and email your representatives and members of House Leadership!