At Habitat for Humanity, we do more than build houses, more than critical home repairs, and more than helping people become homeowners. The issue of affordable housing is one that is too big for our programs alone to handle. Habitat’s vision is a world where Every One has a safe and decent place to live. We’re not going to get there by just building houses and creating homeownership opportunities. We must use more than our hammers; we must also use our voices.
Habitat for Humanity has a very strong brand and a very loud voice. Advocacy is a big part of what we do. We advocate for policy and funding that will help level the playing field for families who have little or no access to credit, no funds for down payments, no way to have their own voices heard…
Two years ago in June, Greater Jackson Habitat for Humanity joined other local Habitat affiliates and Habitat for Humanity International to begin the Cost of Home (#costofhome) campaign. The campaign has specific, defined outcome goals. You can read about them here. Cost of Home raises awareness of the real-life decisions families face when they’re forced to spend more than 30-50% of their income on a place to live.
Every area of the country has its own challenges to affordable housing. The Cost of Home campaign empowers local Habitat affiliates like ours to advocate for the biggest needs of our community related to affordable housing. This year, our Jackson Habitat is leading the charge for a legislative change to a property tax code that will bring property taxes in line with affordability for qualified low-to-moderate income homebuyers. This legislation was championed by Representative Julie Alexander after she visited one of our homeowners and was made aware of the issue. Habitat’s Executive Director, Wendy Clow, and one of our partner families joined president/CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, Sandy Pearson, in Lansing to testify at the first committee hearing to get this bill passed by the House. At the time of this writing, it is still making its way through the House and Senate to hopefully be passed and sent to the governor’s desk for her to sign. If this bill passes, it will have an impact on families all over Michigan, not just Jackson. You can read more about the issue this bill addresses here.
In addition to this property tax legislation, there are 6 other priorities Habitat in Michigan is pushing at the state level.
- Funding for critical home repairs in the state budget
- A revolving mortgage loan fund in the state budget
- Initiatives for land bank redevelopment and other tools for the state to partner with developers to create affordable housing
- Create a revolving loan fund to provide capital for developers to build low-to-moderate-income housing
- Funding for down payment assistance for qualified home buyers
- Reinstate the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund
More information about these 6 priorities can be found here.
You can add your voice to ours by letting our state legislators know you support these 6 priorities plus HB4812 (the property tax legislation mentioned above). Feel free to download the documents and send them an email asking them to move these initiatives forward. For your convenience, the legislators in the Jackson area are listed below with their email addresses linked.