Last updated: December 15, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and amplified how the housing and intersecting systems were designed on racist ideas and policies producing inequitable and broken outcomes. While it’s important for philanthropy to take a lead role in the response and recovery efforts, each recommendation that we’ve outlined will only be successful long-term and result in true systemic change if the systems we work within are redesigned and reimagined with a racial justice framework to ensure BIPOC are prioritized.
Bringing about systems change requires a sector wide approach of engaging in public policy and advocacy at all levels: local, state, and federal. Philanthropy has a pivotal role to play in not just supporting and influencing equitable systems change, but pushing for this change as part of a long-term vision and plan that continually puts racial justice at the forefront. The recommendations in this section call out what can be done in the short-term to set up the conditions for equitable long-term change at the systems level and also how philanthropy can push for accountability and continue the work of community transformation.
New recommendations (but not examples) are denoted with ***
Advancing Equitable Public Policy
- ***Support and invest in transformational local and state ballot initiatives to structurally change the budget by reallocating funding from existing locally controlled revenue to community investment, affordable housing, and homelessness prevention for housing justice.
- Fund the public and political will building capacity and mechanisms that will drive local and state governments to create and support long-term solutions to ensure those who have been housed during the pandemic do not exit back into homelessness.
- Push for systemic changes to policies that will further protect people experiencing homelessness, such as a ban on encampment sweeps and the decriminalization of homelessness.
- Fund strategic communications and messaging campaigns to reinforce the importance of a home not just during times of crisis, but as a human right.
- ***Push your organization’s board or trustees to increase involvement in public policy citing advancements made with relief packages and where those resources are flowing in order to set up the conditions to continue policy engagement within the organization and in concert with community stakeholders.
Examples & Resources:
- Measure J in Los Angeles, which is trying to dismantle systemic racism by investing in health, housing, and jobs
Portland, OR voters passed a tax on wealthy households and companies in May 2020 to end chronic homelessness. Meyer Memorial Trust helped support the messaging for the ballot measure.
Narrative Change and Messaging Efforts
- National COVID-19 messaging document – from Race Class Narrative Action and Anat Shenker Osorio Communications
- Topic #2: Making a Powerful Case for the Role of Government
- Topic #6: Talking About the Future
- Topics #7: Acting Now on Behalf of Tomorrow
- Housing Justice Narrative Initiative - This is a resource is intended for organizers, advocates and community leaders to access tools and research that will allow us all collectively to shift the current discussions and debates around housing to advance a vision of racial justice and homes for all.
Community Assessment and Impact Evaluations
- ***Conduct evaluations and impact analysis of how local and federal COVID-19 resources have been utilized and made a different through mechanisms like rental assistance, moving people from congregate settings to hotels, etc.
- ***Utilize evaluations and analysis to educate local, state, and federal officials as well as public stakeholders to show impact of large dedicated investments and movement in preventing and ending homelessness as well as addressing housing instability for a healthier community. This can also be used to make the case for permanent federal subsidies and an increase in federal housing and homelessness budgets.
***Assess impact of equity-based decision-making and make mid-course corrections to program design to ensure equitable outcomes. This includes assessing the likely impacts of cessation of eviction moratoria, rent forbearance, unemployment compensation, individual payments, and other policies on homelessness. (A Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response)
Transforming Communities Through Systems Change
- Continue to educate local, state, and federal officials about progress being made in the community and also where there are gaps in efforts.
- Lead and model the process of acknowledging that existing systems are broken and structurally racist. Push community stakeholders to prioritize rebuilding new resilient, anti-racist systems and fund capacity for people with lived expertise to be at the table to make decisions on the rebuilding.
- Support the long-term strategic planning on emergency shelter configuration to eliminate congregate shelters in favor of shelters with private rooms and bathrooms to address general and long-term public health issues, and to ensure that all shelters are low-barrier and housing-focused. (A Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response)
- ***Consider critical components to systems change that will contribute to equitable and effective change like congregate shelters, acquiring property, budgets, housing vouchers while also keeping the unintended consequences of systems change at the forefront. The unique opportunity that exist within philanthropy is talking with stakeholders to have these conversations and address the unintended consequences as the long-term work develops.
Examples & Resources:
- Empty Hotels Find New Life as Governments House the Homeless, CityLab, Dec. 15, 2020
- PolicyLink: Strategies to Advance Racial Equity in Housing Response and Recovery: A Guide for Cities during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- HealthSpark Foundation: A Blueprint for Building Back a Better Safety Net System
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: 3 Principles for an Antiracist, Equitable State Response to COVID-19 – and a Strong Recovery
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