It’s quite a time to rejoin Shelterforce. As we struggle with the pain and despair that comes from the worst economy in decades, fueled by a subprime crisis so many of us saw coming, we also find ourselves in once-in-a-lifetime moment.
For the first time in years, we have a chance to change the rules of the game; rules that always hindered and often punished the people and communities we serve. So how do we seize this moment?
Let’s learn to play the inside game. At HUD, as well as at many other federal agencies, we have potential partners with open minds and open doors. As we walk through those doors, let’s continue to press for all our needs, while remembering that our new partners have other pressures to contend with. We can help ourselves by helping them make our case. To do that, we need to:
- Do it right; do it better. Let’s stipulate that the current administration cares about our work and understands its importance. There couldn’t be a better time to take a careful, reflective assessment of our methods, accomplishments, and failures. No longer is it enough to say we do important work, though true, or that we have never been supported at the level required, though also true. We need to do our work well. We need to adapt, build new alliances, innovate, and create permanent change beyond the borders of our neighborhoods.
- Prove it. A few years ago, the MacArthur Foundation announced a $25 million dollar housing research program based on the firm belief that facts drive policy. Now we have an administration familiar with the term “fact.” We need to document our work and show how it can and does bring benefits to everyone. And we need to drive the efforts to create new public policies, at all levels of government, which will support our communities.
In the coming year we will be looking at the changing field of community development, the impact of the stimulus on our work, and the impact of our work on public policy. We hope that you continue to find Shelterforce and our online media useful as we move through uncharted territory.