Group of funders will invest to support policies and programs aimed at ensuring all Americans can afford a safe and stable home
Press Release – Understanding that stable homes provide an important platform for individual success and thriving communities, nine of the nation’s largest private foundations have joined forces to create the Funders for Housing and Opportunity collaborative with the goal of ensuring individuals and families across America who spend more than half of their income on rent — or have no homes at all — will be able to afford safe, stable rentals in thriving communities. Together, Funders for Housing and Opportunity will commit grant dollars that will be used to catalyze systemic change; $4.9 million has already been committed to four grantees over the next three years.
Members of the new collaborative include: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, and Oak Foundation.
There is a strong connection between safe, affordable housing and better life outcomes. But for too many Americans, that is just a distant dream. In no state can a person earning the minimum wage and working 40 hours per week afford to rent a basic two-bedroom apartment, even in states where the minimum wage is set above the federal level (National Low Income Housing Coalition). The burden is not confined to high-cost cities: every county in the United States has a shortage of available and affordable rental units for its extremely low-income residents (Urban Institute).
Separately, members of the collaborative invested more than $65 million in domestic housing-related activities in 2017. The new collaborative allows these foundations to align strategies, leverage their funds, and extend their reach beyond what they could individually support. Drawing on their diverse expertise and collective resources, members of Funders for Housing and Opportunity seek to make stable housing a reality for every American household.
“Any one foundation, working alone, can have only limited impact given the scale of the problem,” said Jeanne Fekade-Sellassie, Project Director, Funders for Housing and Opportunity. “Too many lower- and middle-income families struggle to afford each month’s rent. We need a monumental shift in how rental housing security and its impacts are addressed at the national level. By working together, Funders for Housing and Opportunity and our partners can be a powerful force for change.”
The issue cannot be addressed in isolation, and the group is calling upon nonprofit, public and private partners across a range of areas such as education, health and employment to play a role in promoting long term change that delivers results.
“Housing is much more than a roof over our heads – it is a basic human need and it bolsters entire communities,” said Susan Thomas of the Melville Charitable Trust, chair of the collaborative. “When homes are decent, stable and affordable, kids do better in school, seniors are healthier longer and more socially connected, workers are more productive, and families have more disposable income to boost our local economies. For this reason, we’re bridging across fields to make housing opportunity a shared priority.”
The collaborative has awarded an initial $4.9 million to four nonprofit organizations on the front lines of addressing housing insecurity and its impacts. Subsequent grants will be issued through invitation or formal RFP processes over the next three years.
This first set of grantees include:
- Center for Community Change’s Housing Trust Fund Project will build the power and capacity of state and local partners and resident leaders to increase state and local revenue for affordable housing, scale and expand resident leadership, and strengthen a national housing movement for policies that address the unmet housing needs of people at the lowest incomes. National, with focus on resident engagement in California and Washington; $750,000 award over three years.
- National Housing Trust and Enterprise Community Partners will lead a community development coalition that raises the voices of residents regarding housing concerns and connects them to elected representatives and to health, education and energy campaigns in their communities. Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin; $1,050,000 award over three years.
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition will lead a campaign, together with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Children’s Health Watch, Make Room, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, that advances affordable housing solutions for the lowest income people, galvanizing housers, educators, health professionals, civil rights and anti-poverty advocates, the faith-based community, and others. National; $2,700,000 award over three years.
- Partnership for Children & Youth will provide training, coaching and capacity-building work to housing developments, with the aim of increasing the expanded learning program quality through gains in student health and wellness, academic achievement and family economic and housing stability. California and Washington; $400,000 award over two years.
In addition to grantmaking, Funders for Housing and Opportunity will work with a cross-section of partners that share an understanding that stable housing is essential to success across a multitude of dimensions, such as health, education, and economic mobility.
For more information about Funders for Housing Opportunity, visit www.HousingIsOpportunity.org