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Advocacy in Action: Pickens County's Stand for Affordable Housing at Habitat on the Hill

Habitat on the Hill, an annual event held in Washington D.C., recently brought together affiliates from across the nation, including Pickens County Habitat for Humanity (PCHFH), to tackle a pressing issue that affects millions of Americans: affordable housing. The event was not just a forum for discussion but a beacon of hope and action for affordable housing advocates. The participation of Pickens County Habitat for Humanity (PCHFH) was a significant moment for the organization and its mission to combat the affordable housing crisis that plagues many regions of the United States. In South Carolina, an alarming number of households are overburdened by housing costs, a situation that PCHFH has been keen to highlight through its advocacy efforts.

Under the leadership of Interim Executive Director Tamara Dourney, PCHFH joined forces with representatives from various South Carolina Habitat affiliates to engage in meaningful dialogues with key political figures. The warmth and enthusiasm that greeted Habitat advocates across Capitol Hill underscored the universal appeal of the Habitat mission. It was a powerful reminder of the critical role that affordable housing plays in building strong, resilient communities.

Habitat representatives stand in front of the Capitol building

Pickens County Habitat for Humanity representative Tamara Dourney speaks with a conference attendee during the poster presentation.

Participants from Habitat organizations across South Carolina stand in front of the Capitol building before heading out to speak with South Carolina's legislators.

Tamara Dourney, alongside participants from sister affiliates, shares about the importance of supporting affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford and Pickens County Habitat for Humanity's Interim Executive Director Tamara Dourney paused for a quick photo before attending meetings.

In meetings with staff from the offices of Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tim Scott, Representative James Clyburn, Representative Jeff Duncan, and Representative Joe Wilson, Habitat staff and homeowner partners were inspired by the bipartisan commitment to solving the nation's housing crisis. The positive reception from these federal representatives and their staff highlighted a shared understanding of the importance of local programs, a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of direct advocacy.

By bringing the voices of those affected by the housing crisis directly to the halls of power, PCHFH and our sister affiliates demonstrated the real-world impact of federal housing policies. These conversations were an opportunity to highlight the success of Habitat's programs and the critical need for continued support and funding to expand their reach. They also allowed for a deeper exploration of the challenges and barriers that prevent many Americans from achieving homeownership, particularly in underserved communities.

The productive and inspiring nature of discussions across Capitol Hill clearly indicated the impact that collective advocacy can have on shaping a future where affordable housing is a priority. Engagement with federal representatives represents a crucial step for advancing homeownership through advocating for the policies outlined in Habitat for Humanity’s Federal Policy Agenda and the Cost of Home campaign. The Federal Policy Agenda lays out a comprehensive approach to the urgent need for affordable homes, stressing the importance of sustained investment in proven programs and the introduction of innovative policies aimed at expanding opportunities for affordable homeownership. This agenda places a particular emphasis on addressing the homeownership rate disparities experienced by Black households, highlighting a commitment to equity and inclusion in the housing sector.

Launched in 2019, the Cost of Home campaign represents a national effort by Habitat affiliates to improve housing affordability for 10 million people in the U.S. This ambitious campaign seeks to address a broad spectrum of housing issues, advocating for policy solutions that tackle the shortage of affordable homes, expand access to credit, and advocate for zoning and land use reforms to increase the supply of affordable housing. The campaign is a testament to the collective power of advocacy in driving policy changes that can make a tangible difference in the lives of millions.

By participating in Habitat on the Hill, PCHFH played a role in a nationwide push for significant policy reforms. Key among these efforts is the support for the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act and the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, which aim to revitalize neighborhoods and boost affordable homeownership. Additionally, PCHFH advocates for robust funding for the HOME program and other federal resources that are vital to Habitat's mission. PCHFH's active engagement in these advocacy efforts underscores the critical role that policy plays in addressing the housing crisis, a crisis that cannot be solved by simply building more homes. It highlights how communities, when united in their advocacy efforts, can exert a powerful influence on the national agenda.

The challenges of affordable housing are complex and multifaceted, requiring a concerted effort from all sectors of society. As these advocacy efforts continue, individuals and communities must remain engaged, informed, and active in their pursuit of housing justice.

For those interested in learning more about Habitat for Humanity's advocacy efforts and the Cost of Home campaign, detailed resources and policy agendas are available on the Habitat for Humanity website. These resources provide a deeper insight into the strategies and policies being advocated for, offering opportunities for individuals to get involved and support the cause of affordable housing. Through collective action and sustained advocacy, the vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live is within reach, underscoring the importance of initiatives like Habitat on the Hill in bringing about meaningful change.