As Visioning Day neared, we recognized that we had a huge responsibility to recognize and name the harsh realities, fears and concerns in this tumultuous climate faced by our families and providers as they work to build from the ground up. We named these fears concerns and realities:
We are going to name some things here and now. The purpose is not to bring your spirits down but to Acknowledge & recognize the fears & concerns being carried by the all of us, by our friends and families, by the people and communities most vulnerable with the new heightened sense of pro rich /anti poor sentiment and political climate. History has taught us that simply looking away, will not make anything especially anything oppressive simply go away and so we have decided to try to be brave like you and name some of these fears and concerns .
To be quite honest, HFF does not have the answers for some of these serious fears, necessary questions that have surfaced this year, but we hear you and that matters because we carry with us…. your voice , your views, your lens….. at every table we join as we ask questions , provide answers and seek solutions
Here are some of the concerns we heard over the past year:
- Displacement, rent hikes, gentrification seem to be happening at a faster pace than ever and communities that used to be affordable are changing quickly and becoming unrecognizable. For those who may be familiar with the effects but not the term, gentrification is when your neighborhood changes before your eyes, you can no longer afford to live there and you suddenly become the stranger in a strange place that you used to call home.
- There are lots of concerns about what Federal cuts to housing coupled with gentrification and the privatization of public housing will mean for those who are already experiencing homelessness or housing instability
- There are lots of notable concerns around the conservative direction in which Congress seems to leaning. Are the people in Congress, that understand the threats to housing, able to fight hard enough to prevent housing from slipping through the cracks?
- Families recently describe the current climate under this administration as unmistakably pro-rich
- We have heard that existing tenants in housing programs and subsidized units, are already seeing changes to the way housing authorities and property management companies , recertify, screen for income and carryout policies describing this new process as even more microscopic and screen out than prior years.
- There are questions about implementation and honoring of tenants rights.
- At a time when hate & discrimination are extremely visible and in some cases seemingly permissible, will tenants soon be faced with federal and local laws that seek to protect or fail to address landlords who discriminate against low income families, large families, undocumented families, people of color, LGBTQ communities.
- How will fed cuts eventually trickle down to impact local and state responses to homelessness?
- Will the length of stay in shelter shoot up (further) with the cuts to housing that already is too little to meet the demands of the population?
- The opioid crisis is a threat to housing and family stability – how are these 2 things being addressed as such.
- Providers and families expressed concerns and anxiety tied to the reliance on short term subsidies (Home base) being the primary tool that we have to respond to such a massive housing stability crisis that requires longer term solutions.
- Providers have not been shy in expressing their shared concern with families faced with issues tied directly to immigration status.
- There have been concerns about what families and providers describe as in increase to the number of families being separated by DCF.
Providers are working alongside families in this same uncertain climate, with many of the very same concerns and feelings of being overwhelmed while trying to do what’s best.
None of you are alone; none of you are wrong for feeling this way and all of you are strong for pushing forward anyway.
You don’t have to be fearless to be brave especially in times like these. In fact our concerns and conversations about our fears will keep us on target, united and relentless as we fight with a sense of urgency for what is right.
As I mentioned this is heavy stuff, not neatly packaged or processed but know this
We hear you and we carry with us your voice, your views, your lens.
We also knew that despite the challenges and barriers, our spirits are resilient and we are pushed forward by the beliefs that we hold onto, hope and possibilities offered to us by tomorrow. We named that as well:
Your good intentions brought you here today; look to someone else and repeat after me, “Thank you for being a part of this special day”
No one here today is alone, look to each other and repeat after me, “I am with you”
If you have ever been shut down, turned away, or silenced – we see you and we hear you, repeat after me, “My voice is valuable and my opinion matters”
Some may want to see us divided, blaming each other and fighting for crumbs, but we choose to see this differently, repeat after me, “I radiate love, peace, and happiness.”
Again, some may want to see us divided, blaming each other and fighting for crumbs, but we choose to see this differently, repeat after me, “I know that we will make a difference together”
Again, some may want to see us divided, blaming each other and fighting for crumbs, but we choose to see this differently, repeat after me, “I have your back, let’s do this”
– Nilaya Montalvo, Director of Leadership & Community Building