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Join us in envisioning a coordinated and strategic vision for communications around housing and community development in the Twin Cities that seeks to shift our messaging to center equity and elevate directly impacted communities. Our table is open to all advocates and community members with an interest in or experience with affordable housing and community development. We are building this project as we go and we need your input!

Contact Carolyn Szczepanski, carolyn.szczepanski[at]mhponline.org for more information or to be added to our email list!

Next meeting:
Wednesday, May 30, 2018; 9:00 - 11:00 AM; Minnesota Housing Partnership (2446 University Ave W #140, St. Paul, MN 55114)


Shifting the narrative around affordable housing

  • There’s a narrow pool and definition of “experts”: Too often the narrative about affordable housing and community development is told by “the experts” rather than those impacted. Too often, when those impacted are included their voices are tokenized or they’re cast as victims. We need to share stories that emphasize the agency and assets of those who have the most stake in affordable housing and community development — on their terms, rather than in service to our missions.

  • Communications around affordable housing continues to be a challenge — we need new and unified strategies: Despite the urgent and compelling data on the need and clear social good, industry and advocacy leaders continue to struggle to shift public opinion and policymakers’ approach to affordable housing. Our regional narrative (concentrated poverty, national leader in disparities, etc) is old and tired. We need to ignite a new conversation within our community.

  • Data alone isn’t a winning strategy — we need better storytelling: Numbers are important but they don’t move policy, win media or change public opinion on their own. In fact, often the way we cast or present data further alienates or "problematizes" impacted communities. We need to center personal stories and innovative ideas that make an emotional connection to the issue — and actively dispel false stereotypes about the causes of housing barriers, and who lives in / needs affordable housing.

Twin Cities Housing Speakers Bureau

Rather than those who are directly impacted by housing challenges, too often the narrative about affordable housing is told by “the experts” — nonprofit leaders, elected officials or the private sector. Frequently, when residents are included their voices are tokenized or they’re cast as victims. We need to share stories that emphasize the agency and assets of those who have the most stake in affordable housing — and provide funding and support for them to share their personal stories and innovative ideas to actively dispel false stereotypes about who lives in or needs affordable housing and advance true solutions.

The Twin Cities Housing Speakers Bureau will elevate the expertise of directly impacted residents and provide funding and support for them to act as the housing experts they are. It will provide leadership development around issues identified by Speakers’ Bureau participants, and financially compensate speakers for their time and expertise. Learn more about upcoming opportunities to engage on Facebook and by checking out the calendar below.

Have an event you'd like to share with the Speakers Bureau? Fill out this form!

Contact Laura Proescholdt at laura.proescholdt[at]mhponline.org with questions or ideas!