“Making sure people have affordable housing is making sure that communities are stable,” says Melanie Mitchell, a member organizer at Down Home Alamance.
That’s the bottom line as to why our members knew that housing had to be one of the central planks of their local platforms.
Down Home members create local platforms to support and direct their local work for the year. Platforms help guide our local chapters as they do everything from determining who they will endorse in local elections to what campaigns they want to engage on to what protests they will help organize. Our platforms are researched, drafted, and ratified by local members who know their communities well and are uniquely positioned to know exactly what they need.
Both our Down Home Cabarrus and Down Home Alamance chapters included housing in their local platforms this year. Beyond our own personal and relevant difficult experiences seeking and maintaining affordable housing in our rural communities, the decision to include housing as an issue plank was informed by data.
This past spring, our members canvassed their communities and circulated a survey online to gather information about what housing issues local folks were facing. The results were stark.
From this process, we learned that our neighbors are facing serious barriers to securing safe and affordable housing: In Alamance County, 35% of respondents told us that they can’t move because they cannot afford to pay both a security deposit and rent for a new or better place. In Cabarrus County, 40% of respondents said they have been denied housing or face housing discrimination due to having bad credit.
Most alarmingly, perhaps, is that when we spoke with our neighbors this past spring we learned that too many of them were at the risk of losing their housing, either through eviction or foreclosure (20% of the people we spoke to in Alamance and 27% in Cabarrus). We are aware that, as we launch our platforms now in July, the federal eviction moratorium is about to expire at the end of this month– and that our communities are staring down a real and significant crisis in our communities.
What do we do? Down Home members researched solutions and ideas to address housing issues in their communities and detailed them in the platforms they wrote. You can find the principles and suggestions created by our membership in the links below.
“The thing about housing is, sure, it’s a utility but it’s also where you make your home for your family,” says Amy Cooper, of Down Home Alamance. “Having the threat of that being pulled out from under you or not knowing what’s going to happen with it, makes you feel unstable everywhere in your life.”
Fighting for and obtaining real, affordable, safe housing in our communities can and will build power for poor and working people in small town North Carolina. Interested in our work? Come on in, y’all.