Advocacy Begins at Home- Pizza with Planners discusses affordable housing and neighborhood advocacy

A livable community is one where residents feel safe and secure—with access to affordable and quality housing, accessible transportation, and supportive services that meet their needs.  BLDG Memphis kicked off our final  “Pizza with Planners:  Advocating for Livable Communities: From Neighborhoods to City Hall”  , Tuesday, October 27th in a virtual conversation which included, local housing experts, city representatives, and community members to discuss how various stakeholders can collaborate together to advocate for the needs of their neighborhoods.

BLDG Memphis Advocacy Strategy

The evening began with Deveney Perry, Director of Advocacy at BLDG Memphis , who outlined BLDG Memphis’s approach to advocacy. BLDG Memphis convenes five policy committees which reviews existing administrative and legislative policies, researches best practices for reducing barriers to community development work, and crafts policy recommendations designed to create more livable communities for our fellow Memphians.

State of Memphis Housing

The night continued with a discussion on housing, where local housing and neighborhood consultant,  Austin Harrison shared highlights from the  HCD’s State of Housing Report , which emphasizes the need for quality affordable housing in the city—especially in low income neighborhoods like North and South Memphis. Harrison explained that the city is in need of 40,000 affordable housing units in black and brown neighborhoods to offset the current housing crisis. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund was cited as a key solution to this effort , which calls for a permanent funding source for developers and non-profits to continuously create affordable housing options for low and moderate income residents throughout the city.  An Affordable Housing Trust Fund would have tremendous economic and social benefits for the city including increasing tax revenue , creating jobs ,promoting homeownership, and building wealth in black and brown communities. Next, Joyce  Cox Senior Manager of Neighborhood Engagement encouraged participants to attend the City’s Housing Summit on Thursday October 29th where leaders across the country discussed  the need for affordable housing and equitable development opportunities  in neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Advocacy Efforts

Finally, the event concluded with a community panel where Vee Turnage of Frayser CDC  and Regenia Dowell of the Frayser Community Parent Teacher Student Association discussed how community development corporations and community associations can work together to advocate for livable communities in their neighborhood. Ms. Dowell shared an inspiring story of local residents partnering with Frayser CDC, Frayser Exchange Club, Girls Inc., and  other community groups to fight against the expansion of a landfill in Frayser, which was positioned to be in a school zone. Regenia Dowell encouraged participants to always have the “heart of their neighborhood in mind” and to vote out people who do not represent their interests.

BLDG Memphis wants to give a huge thank you to everyone who attended the event and the amazing speakers who provided us with such knowledge, insight, and rich conversation. If you are interested in getting involved in a community association or a community development corporation (cdc) in your community check out BLDG Memphis list of CDCS, and the City’s Office of Planning to get in touch with the local neighborhood associations in your area.

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