How and where to have impact on rental housing issues. Why is it so hard?
what Advocates do:
the issues: with stories about suffering caused by dysfunctional
systems with adverse outcomes. more here.
the problem by defining rights and duties (both landlords and tenants
want the bedbugs gone; both have duties (tenants-prevention and
landlords-extermination) and there are ways to solve the problem
Convincing leaders that rational solutions are cheaper
and more effective than inaction (adopt and enforce a rule, policy or
an advocate? (maybe you?)
Tenants and tenant activists who want to.stabilize their homes and communities. 2.
Social service providers who want their program participants to
stabilize their households and communities. 3.
Social justice activists who want a more equitable distribution of
wealth within the community. Workers who share in wealth creation by
their work should benefit from the wealth they create.
Who are the Columbus advocates? Advocacy groups based in Columbus have
unique access to decision makers in the state house and the
The Coalition on Homelessness and
Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) is a state wide advocacy group active at the
State and National levels around legislative and administrative
issues impacting housing, homelessness and low income people.
The Ohio Poverty Law Center is the
legal services state support center in Ohio. OPLC attorneys are
experienced poverty law advocates who advocate on systemic impact
issues and provide assistance to the six legal services regions in
the Ohio legal services community. Policy Advocacy - OPLC engages in
statewide legislative and administrative advocacy, issue
identification and development, and community outreach and education.
Target your outreach for results
maybe you don't need a real sophisticated system...just ask your
members-who do you know? how do you know them? Read more here
Does email work? See here.
for Housing Justice?
Two weeks ago, Michel
Tolle on his blog asked: How
About a Facebook Anti-Slumlord Alliance?
. This is a (long) interesting read but the gist is in the title.
Local groups can use Facebook to link and learn in the arena of
rental housing reform.Maybe we don't need ONE BIG ORGANIZATION (or FB page) as much
as we need to be liking and inking across interests and geography.
Here's some places that
the RHINO likes...maybe you can visit, like'm, and start to follow
what's happening around housing justice.
Tenants Against Connor
Group... https://www.facebook.com/groups/TACGHRP/ (closed group,
membership requests required)
Ohio Valley Renters
People's Coalition for
Equality and Justice
Slumlord Watch of
suggest other sites where ordinary people are working for
housing justice by sharing with firstname.lastname@example.org With
enough likes and links, the movement builds itself.
Want to make change?
Engage Middle Class Renters! RHINO
has made the point...for years...that legislative change happens when
the interests of middle income renters are affected. Now it comes to
light that the State House's interest in curbing utility reselling
might have something to do with the fact that some legislators and
their staff members have been ripped off by utility resellers. An
advocate on the issue of utility reselling wrote: "The good
news is that [a key House Rep] supports...legislation that reins in
the submetering companies. In fact, his chief aides are themselves
'victims' of the submetering companies’ practices and they
supposedly 'hate' the submetering companies."
income housing activists need to welcome middle income renters into
the advocacy arena and find ways to make common causes. Too often,
low income advocates see middle (and even upper income) tenants as
fundamentally different. Get this: based on median income and cost
of living, renters in Cleveland face the same kind of rent burden as
renters in San Francisco.
(take a look at "Postscript and use the Planet Money tool to
test the data.)
class "privilege" in the political process can pay
dividends in arena of real reform.
Advocates can't depend on media to help shape common ground
movements...their view of the world depends on conflict
between competing interests. Examples:
with all movements...housing advocates need totell
their own stories. Renters
are all in this together!
Four types of public policy advocacy be aware of the differences if you are a tax exempt non profit
Finding and using information to make your case Access to information learning the facts, not just impressions or ideas (or delusions) about what's going on is a first step towards analysis of your strategy and presentation of your CASE to the public and decision makers. Freedom of Information and the Ohio Open Records Act should be tools you use all the time.
Dispatch says Police duck the law on release of incident reports
Advocates seeking public records are not automatically entitled to attorney fees if they win their cases. This is a setback for those who wish to get "the private bar" more engaged in public interest practice...especially in the wake of the dramatic loss of representation through the Legal Aid system.
Do you need copies of health and safety violations at the property where you live? It just became a little easier. Columbus Dispatch reports: "Some people not prone to hyperbole are praising the General Assembly’s unanimous -- and long-needed -- passage of a bill leveling the public-records playing field between government and citizens. Senate Bill 321 authored by Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, gives Ohioans a low-cost method to potentially leverage loose improperly withheld records without the generally prohibitive cost of hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. For the mere cost of a $25 filing fee, an Ohioan who believes a governmental entity is illegally withholding public records can file a complaint with the Ohio Court of Claims. The case will go to mediation to see if it can be quickly resolved and, if not, a judge will issue a binding ruling."
Creating your own credible data is often critical
I heard on the radio that "the plural of anecdote is data". Creating data means systematically collecting information from your contacts or research into a standard format so that you analyze the stories to find links, trends and patterns. Imagine tracking your individual calls so that, over time, you can identify all the callers from a particular property or all the properties managed by the same company. Spreadsheets and databases have made this kind of analysis easy.
Ask the data. The best
thing about data is that it gives you the opportunity to step outside
your perceptions. You drive to work the same way every day while a
block away there's new people, new businesses, new signs. Or when
you go out socially, you travel in the same social and demographic
circles that you did 20 years ago. Data on the other hand doesn't
care where you grew up, what you learned in school or what you value.
"By asking questions like these, it compelled people to reflect
on what they thought their community looked like. And then by seeing
the actual data, either their perceptions were confirmed, or their
understanding opened up. Often it was the latter. In fact, one
participant said he realized how important data was to combating
preconceived notions people might have about their own community."
Pick your battles: Don't try to sweep back the ocean with a broom
newsletters make sense for busy networkers.
most people, I’m careful about handing my email address to anyone,
much less somebody who promises to send me messages every working
day. But because they sit in my inbox and can be opened (or ignored)
at a time of my choosing, I’ve found newsletters keep me in the
know about specific topics...'David Carr writes in the NYT. Media
advocacy goes only 1/2 way.
tenants at Harris-Askins House in suburban Westerfield were inspired
by the advocacy around the flag lady in nearby Whitehall. When their
hot water turned lukewarm and the property manager sent out a note
suggesting that they boil their tap water to an indefinite time,
tenants reached out to the media. A little
media investigation prompted Showe Management was to respond that the
manager was wrong and Showe encouraged the plumber to
install a temporary fix that relieved the problem til a permanent
solution was available. But
instead of claiming a "victory" the tenants moved to the
shadows. The Dispatch reports:
it was the presence of the news media in the parking lot, or maybe it
was the fear swirling around the complex that talking about the water
problem would lead to eviction — several residents discussed the
issue but asked not to be named. Maybe people didn’t want to take a
public shower. Or maybe they didn’t mind lukewarm water."
the problem. If tenants won't go "on the record" then the
next time, the media won't respond.If I'm wrong...let me know: email@example.com.