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Driving Change in Housing Policies With Advocacy and Organizing

Two housing justice advocates discuss different approaches to policy change and the importance of centering the voices of people most affected by systemic barriers and inequities in housing.

By Amy Gillman, Liz Ryan Murray & Mike Koprowski, Nov. 10, 2022

Interview with Liz Ryan Murray of the Alliance for Housing Justice (AHJ) and Mike Koprowski of Opportunity Starts at Home (OSAH) who offer insights into national and local policy advocacy and organizing efforts that are changing the housing system.

"FHO: What are the policy gaps you’re still trying to fill?

"Liz Ryan Murray: This country has underinvested in the affordable housing system, both public housing and assisted housing, for so long that we’re way behind. The amount of repairs needed to make the public housing stock safe and climate-friendly is appalling, and every year thousands of units fall offline because they are literally falling apart. A lot of that investment has to come from the federal government, but some also comes from the local level.

"Mike Koprowski: We also need to build more affordable housing units, and the federal government could help state and local governments with this by creating incentives for them to ease up on the cost of development. There are burdensome zoning requirements at the local level that make it really hard to build new housing.

"Liz Ryan Murray: We need more tenant protections, because the housing system is so tilted in favor of property owners. There are many states and localities where it’s legal for landlords to refuse to accept housing assistance vouchers. And we need better enforcement of fair housing rules.

"Mike Koprowski: Absolutely. There should be national just cause eviction standards, and a national right to legal representation for tenants being threatened with eviction, so they can better navigate complicated proceedings."

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