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Ford, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Funds Tenant Influence | Work

Two of the wealthiest foundations in the country have created a new $ 7.5 million fund as millions of Americans earn rent as a result of a pandemic and struggle to face potential evictions. did.

The House US Foundation, backed by Ford and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has promised about $ 1.6 million this year to grassroots organizations working to help people stay home. The fund also provides lessors with access to lawyers and specifically supports groups advocating the elimination of certain late fees and fines imposed by landlords.

Fund co-directors Syma Mirza and Kevin Simowitz aim to raise a total of $ 20 million, and HouseUS will provide low-interest loans and grants to mitigate the risk of lenders lending to low-income housing. He states that he will not focus. , What philanthropy often did to support affordable homes. Instead, the co-director wants to help tenants organize and have more say in securing a place to live in the long run.

“This fund isn’t about building houses or building houses, it’s about building power,” says Mirza. “We look at the broader definition of housing and approach it as a right rather than a commodity.”

Shimowitz adds: “Homeowners and landlords are pretty good at setting current housing policies.” The fund “is aimed at ensuring that tenants have at least equal authority,” he said. Says.

Fund recipients include nonprofits in 10 states, including Colorado Homes for All, Florida Housing Justice Alliance, and Nevada Housing Justice Alliance.

According to Simowitz, the fund does not have a list of national policy priorities, but securing a bill of rights for national tenants is a good start. Such a policy can provide protection from peasant evictions and detail the rules governing rent increases. It can also allow the lessor to organize into a union without the intervention of the landlord, making it easier for the lessor to buy the building when the landlord puts the building on the market. Fund-backed organizations also promoted the creation of community land trusts that allow neighbors to purchase home development and create non-profit organizations to store them as affordable homes. did.

According to a July Census Bureau survey compiled by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 16% of U.S. renters, or 11.4 million adults, are delinquent in housing payments, with an estimated 15 million 2021 It has been showing signs of improvement since January of the year. People were late.

The problem is exacerbated among people of color. Almost one in four black renters are behind in payments, and nearly one in four Latin, Asian and Native Americans compare to just over one in ten white renters. And I’m not catching up with the payment.

The federal government has made more than $ 46 billion available through an emergency rental assistance program. However, by the end of June, less than 10 percent had actually gone to directly assist the lessor.

As HouseUS is working to support more tenant rights groups, other philanthropic efforts are underway to ensure the effective use of federal funds.

Susan Thomas, President of the Melville Charitable Trust in Connecticut, is leading an initiative called a partnership for a fair and resilient community. Through some pandemic relief actions.

The partnership will work with local groups across the country to design plans for ways to distribute federal funds fairly and help groups receiving federal funds assess their impact. Thomas says that how the partnership works, such as which foundations will participate and which geographic locations will serve as test cases, is still under consideration.

Federal funding is usually announced, and local governments and nonprofits “scramble” to understand how to use it, “says Thomas.

“I can’t do that. We know that money will come in. So we need to think about a comprehensive plan. We need to think about what we can do with what the federal dollar can’t do. And charity. Activities need to be organized around bridging those gaps. “

In 2017, Melville created a funder for housing and opportunities. This is a pool fund that aims to win a $ 10 million grant over three years. Both Ford and Robert Wood Johnson participated in this effort, along with seven other foundations. Since its inception, several grantors, including Ford, Gates, and the MacArthur Foundation, have stopped this effort. However, the number of donors to the fund has increased to 12, with plans to subsidize $ 4.6 million this year, a slight decrease from $ 5.7 million last year.

Thomas is confident that the fund-funded people have helped inform people of the US housing crisis. The Biden administration’s focus on Covid’s recovery gives her hope for the development of this issue.

“We now have a government that makes housing one of our top priorities,” she says. “That’s why I wanted to partner with the administration because I don’t have to persuade them. That’s half the fight.”

HouseUS’s Simowitz is not confident that it can move forward without significantly changing the way the Foundation works to advance housing issues.

“The philanthropic approach has traditionally been too small in their thinking of what possible policy solutions are,” he says. “They rely on working within the system we have, rather than imagining what it takes to build a new system together.”


This article was contributed to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Alex Daniels is a senior reporter for Chronicles. Email: APs and Chronicles are supported by the Lily Foundation for philanthropic and non-profit organizations. AP and Chronicle are solely responsible for all content. For all coverage of AP’s philanthropy, please visit:

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Ford, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Funds Tenant Influence | Work

Source link Ford, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Funds Tenant Influence | Work

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