Lessons from Habitat on the Hill

February 16, 2023

Earlier this month, nearly 400 members of the Habitat for Humanity network convened in Washington, D.C. to draw attention to and discuss actionable solutions to housing affordability challenges faced by rural, suburban and urban communities across the nation.

Habitat on the Hill, our annual legislative conference, provides an opportunity for Habitat affiliates to learn from our peers and raise our voices for affordable housing policy by meeting with members of Congress. This year the conference focused on the theme advocacy for impact, with a special emphasis on advancing Black homeownership and addressing the historic low supply of affordable homes. These are some of our key takeaways from Capitol Hill:

The housing supply shortage is both chronic and historic.

The demand for affordable, safe and decent homes still outweighs the available supply, causing many families to face extremely difficult choices between affording their home or other basic needs. Addressing the shortage and increasing home affordability overall will require policy solutions at the local, state and federal levels. In addition to urging support for national policies that make investments in affordable homeownership supply, Habitat for Humanity of Oregon is also calling on state lawmakers to address chronic supply shortfalls. Read more about our statewide policy agenda »

Equity in housing is achievable.

But better public policy is instrumental in making it happen. Systemic discrimination has persisted into present policy, from redlining to inequitable access to mortgage credit. Taken together, these practices are barriers to saving for a down payment, getting a loan and affording a home — and they threaten the vitality and prosperity of every community. We must support policies that help address the racial homeownership gap and ensure equity across other aspects of the housing continuum. This includes legislation like Senate Bill 702, requiring training on fair housing and implicit bias for home appraisers. This is a great step in the right direction for promoting equity in the home sale process.

Anyone can be a housing advocate.

Advocacy is more accessible than you might think. You don’t have to travel far to raise your voice for housing affordability. Advocacy from home is accessible, effective and easy to do. If you couldn’t be part of the #AdvocacyforImpact during Habitat on the Hill, it’s not too late. Send this message to your federal policymakers to amplify your support of the bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act and vital housing and community development programs that increase the supply of affordable homes. The more voices involved, the stronger our message of the need to act for home affordability will be.