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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Q & A + Webinar Recording: Sustainable Workforce Initiative Community Partners

On September 2nd, BLDG Memphis held two webinars for the Sustainable Workforce Initiative Community Partners application process. For viewing either of these webinars, please review at the following links: Recording 1, Recording 2

A brief Q & A of the webinar has been prepared for review below:

Is it okay if the awarded community partner organization provides stipends to community members to complete the work?

Yes.

If my organization is not focused on job training, individual skills, and weatherization - are we eligible for the program?

Yes, we are not explicitly looking for workforce organization as our partners will be preforming these tasks.

Who is the audience of the weatherization trainings, for instance contractors?

The trainings are not technical in terms of weatherizing homes, but rather training for home inspection.

What other trainings are offered?

There are additionally OSHA trainings provided in addition to spanish language training for lead-safe homes.

Are these trainings reserved for license professionals or can they be used for building capacity?

The trainings are not restrictive in who is able to attend them.

If I want to host a job training opportunity, do I need to partner with one of the partner agencies to provide the job training skills?

The trainings have already been prepared and administered by the partners, but other opportunities could potentially be explored and does not limit you from consideration.

 

 

 

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Call for Applications: Sustainable Workforce Initiative Community Partners

BLDG Memphis is seeking nonprofit Community Partners to support community outreach for the Memphis & Shelby County Office of Sustainability and Resilience Sustainable Workforce Initiative. Through this opportunity, community associations and community development groups focused primarily in North and South Memphis will be contracted to promote Sustainable Workforce activities within their respective communities. These include opportunities for both job training and skills development in weatherization and contracting, as well as community and resident services related to healthy and energy-efficient housing. Community Partners will be responsible for raising awareness of and helping to connect residents with the various opportunities funded by the Sustainable Workforce grant as described in more detail below.

Nonprofit, community-based organizations will be selected as Community Partners for each focus area. Each partner agency will have access to a budget of between $3,000 and $5,000 to support its community engagement activities.

Strategies used may vary by neighborhood and should include distributing project material and information through a variety of channels, such as community newsletters, neighborhood networks, existing neighborhood events, social media, and hosting training sessions on resources available through project partners. While the project team would typically expect the inclusion of in-person events and meetings, we understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may limit those activities.

Partners are encouraged to be creative in their recommended approaches with the goal of reaching diverse segments of the community, including youth, adults, individuals who work outside typical office hours, those facing employment barriers, and non-English speaking populations. Partners are encouraged to provide detail on their experience using online platforms for communication and reporting in their applications.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, all Community Partners will be expected to practice distancing and personal protection for any individuals or groups involved. Participants should follow guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Shelby County Health Department and City of Memphis regarding social distance, gatherings, and personal protective equipment.

More details on the opportunity can be found here.

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BLDG Memphis Announces New Board of Directors

BLDG Memphis (Build. Live. Develop. Grow.), a coalition for organizations and individuals who support the development and redevelopment of healthy, vibrant, attractive and economically sustainable neighborhoods throughout the Memphis region, today announced its newly installed board of directors for the 2020-2021 year.

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Investing in Health through Housing in North Memphis: Master Home Environmentalist (MHE) program

One of the primary goals of the Neighborhood Collaborative for Resilience (NCR), is to help neighborhoods create intentional strategies that holistically address equity, health and climate concerns. NCR prioritizes work that ensures historically disinvested communities and people of color gain tangible benefits from the investments made in their environment. A successful example of this work is the Master Home Environmentalist (MHE) program.

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Member Monday Spotlight: MidtownMemphis.org

Emily Cupples, Executive Director of MidtownMemphis.org, shares about their organization's meaningful work and vibrant community.

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2019 BLDG Memphis Candidate Questionnaire Results

Leading up to the 2019 City of Memphis Municipal Elections, we posed three questions to all 64 candidates running for mayor and city council to gauge their support for local solutions to our city's needs. The questions addressed the topics of quality affordable housing; supporting and growing the newly created Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund, pedestrian safety; improving Memphis' record as the 11th most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in the U.S. and public transit; increasing our investment to fund the Memphis 3.0 Transit Vision.

The three questions were sourced from our membership base of 28 nonprofit community development corporations working in neighborhoods across Memphis and supporting/partner agencies in the economic development and financial sectors.

We recorded responses from the 13 candidates that participated and displayed them on our website to help voters make informed decisions on election day. Let’s look at what a few of the 2019 candidates running in the City of Memphis Municipal Elections had to say. 

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What Proposed Changes to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Could Mean for Memphis CDCs

 

Proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) could divert billions of dollars from low- and moderate-income communities. Currently, banks meet their CRA requirements by providing capital for affordable housing, small businesses and economic development in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. By relaxing standards for the types of investments that qualify for CRA credit, the proposed rules would open the door to discriminatory housing and investment practices – i.e., redlining. Overall, these rules would make financial institutions far less accountable and connected to the communities they are required to serve.

Our team at BLDG Memphis wanted to address the concerns of these proposed changes at the local level by speaking with leaders of our member community development corporations. We asked Charia Jackson, Deputy Director of Frayser Community Development Corporation, to share her perspective on how CRA changes could impact communities across the city. 

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2020 Policy Priority: Affordable Housing

Creating affordable housing options is crucial to the revitalization of Memphis neighborhoods. Through our affordable housing policy priority, we are focusing on increasing resources for and eliminating barriers to solving the quality affordable housing supply/demand gap through tools for acquisition, development and maintenance of affordable units.

Over the next year we hope to accomplish the following goals:

●    Secure county and private allocations to the Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund and explore additional dedicated funding sources for long-term sustainability.

●    Explore changes to the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Program that increases the competitiveness of neighborhood-scaled affordable housing developments. 

●    Improve governing systems and enact policies that hold property owners and private management accountable for their properties while supporting and protecting the rights and livability of renters. 

●    Support the adoption of a rental property registry ordinance and regular inspections of rental housing units to ensure the safety of and livability for residents. 

●    Explore the creation of a “renters’ bill of rights” that clarifies and strengthens protections from housing discrimination, unlawful eviction, and retaliation. 

●    Encourage equitable access to fair housing opportunities through home repair and weatherization programs, increased housing and financial counseling, and the creation of a “one-stop-shop” for individuals and families to access information, apply, and be referred for services.

●    Expand the eligibility of local and state home repair and weatherization programs to have a greater economic, health, and stability impact for Memphis households, for example by including rental property improvements as eligible uses. 

Visit our website to learn more about BLDG Memphis and see how you can get involved

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Member Monday Spotlight: Alcy Ball Community Development Corporation

 

Seth Harkins, Executive Director 

How was Alcy Ball started?
Alcy Ball Development Corporation (ABDC) was founded in 2012. Our Community Development Corporation (CDC) started through relationships between the leadership of Divine Life Church and Second Presbyterian Church. Through their mutual understanding of Asset Based Community Development principles, the initial leadership group decided to form a CDC to strengthen some of the existing relationships and reestablish Alcy Ball as a desirable, thriving community. Funding from Second Presbyterian and neighborhood connections from Divine Life formed the foundation of what exists today – an organization working to support resident leaders. 

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