MORRIS COUNTY — For three days in February every year, Habitat affiliates across the nation convene in Washington D.C. bringing one voice to increase support for safe, affordable homes throughout the U.S. with an emphasis on affordable homeownership opportunities, meeting with their local representatives and senators. This year nearly 300 people from around the country participated in the conference which chose the theme “One Vision-Many Voices!
During the conference, Habitat launched their first network-wide National Advocacy Agenda which will create a network of nearly 1,400 local affiliates in the U.S. pursuing a common advocacy agenda.
This year Blair Schleicher Bravo, Morris Habitat CEO and Liz Decoursey, the COO were joined by Karen Allen, a recent Morris Habitat homeowner, who brought our program to life by sharing her story of the positive impact affordable homeownership has had on her life and that of her family. They were glad to have a chance to meet with Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen at his office. Frelinghuysen has been a longtime supporter of Morris Habitat’s work.
According to Blair Schleicher Bravo, “It was an exhilarating week to meet with our legislators and join with other Habitat affiliates to advance better housing policies to ensure everyone in Morris County as well as in every community across the nation have a safe and affordable place to live. It was especially poignant to hear Karen tell our government leaders what our program has meant to her and her family.”
Habitat enables families to have access to affordable homes in a county where rents and home prices are high and continue to escalate. Living in Morris County, one of the nation’s wealthiest counties, is an unreachable goal for most low and moderate income families. Therefore, individuals who work in Morris County supporting our businesses, hospitals, and retail stores are unable to live in the area. Through Morris Habitat, some of these families are able to realize their aspirations of owning an affordable home in the county where they work.
“It made our job to advocate for support of HUD funding requests; increases in the HOME, SHOP and National Service (Americorps and Vista) programs, as well as to ensure tax reform, does not undermine access to adequate, affordable housing or non – profits’ abilities to meet critical needs.”
Karen, reflecting on the conference added “My weekend in DC, attending Habitat on the Hill 2017, was an eye-opening experience. I did not know the full extent of the passion that this group has for people with a story similar to mine. I learned a lot on the various needs being advocated for by them, for us.”