National Housing Conference + Center for Housing Policy
After a triple-whammy trip to DC at the end of September, I left hopeful – but also wary – about whether any of MPC's core housing and community development priorities could make it past the political stalemates that seem to define our capital these days. Looking forward, perhaps the new Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission will create new opportunities, building on several MPC and Chicagoland innovations and partnerships recently featured at three separate events:
We helped shape and facilitate a number of key discussions on Public-Private Partnerships for Workforce Stability, Efficient Investments to Revitalize Communities, and other economic solutions MPC is uniquely positioned to advance as an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization with a board of business and civic leaders.
Like other place-based organizations, our policy work on the national front must be savvy and strategic if it is to advance our local mission rather than divert our staff resources. Without federal leadership and investment, our local agenda and partnerships will have limited impact. Still, when policy discussions are overshadowed by partisan politics, can any of our messages resonate for more that the few hours we’re in town?
Frankly, what interested many of the stakeholders we met in D.C. was how some of our local innovations – in particular our work to support employer engagement and interjurisdictional collaboration – are strategies that can keep things moving forward even when political leadership is fragmented. Given the number of municipalities in metropolitan Chicago and the need to tackle the foreclosure crisis and ensure the region’s housing supply reflects job and population trends, such scalable strategies are critical. Employers, for example, quickly reframe bureaucratic policy discussions about “interagency cooperation” into this bottom-line message: housing and transportation investments should always support a competitive workforce. This requires housing affordable to that workforce near jobs and near transit, and such a reality requires local leaders to work together along rail and job corridors, and for national leaders to support that work!
Of course, while in D.C., we also gleaned a number of new ideas and “best practices” from colleague organizations nationwide, including the national organizations – National Housing Conference, Center for Housing Policy, National Association of Realtors – that pulled us all together.
I am hopeful that the recently announced launch of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission will create some new opportunities for progress on all these best practices, including core MPC priorities. Congratulations to Julia Stasch for her important role in that commission, which also includes former legislators and HUD secretaries. Already, MPC has had the opportunity to brief the staff working on this new commission. While we look forward to the federal leadership that can emerge from this work, we also urge the federal implementation of proven incentives for employer engagement and interjurisdictional collaboration – two strategies for progress even when such leadership is lacking!