Earlier this year, Funding Exchange launched political education programming for our stakeholders. Our first conference call, in February, brought together housing activists, donors and people in philanthropy to talk about bright spots in the struggle against foreclosure in our country right now.
The call, our work leading up to it, and the connections we’ve made since then have shown us that there’s a strong movement for housing justice on many fronts, and this movement needs support from people who want to get to the root causes of the housing crisis.
This Spring: the donor political education call
The speakers on the conference call included Rob Robinson, with Take Back the Land (TBTL); Katrina Gamble with Leadership Center for the Common Good; and Bill Lipton with Campaign for a Fair Settlement (CFFS).
FEX donors and other callers ‘eavesdropped’ while the speakers shared their analyses of the crisis, their work and how they define success towards racial and economic justice. Much of the discussion centered on two themes:
Cooperation at work
The speakers shared their observations about the increased level of cooperation – more than we’ve seen in years – that this crisis has created among grassroots groups. After the call this sentiment was echoed often when we spoke to activists and other colleagues in philanthropy. Some great examples:
Community coalitions in cities like Raleigh, Detroit, Portland, Miami and Madison are also making progress. For this movement, cooperation is the name of the game.
Different strategies attract different levels of support
When we look deeper at the differences in strategy, we see that some have more “funding appeal” than others. Even in this period of mass collaboration, progressive funding remains concentrated in traditional relief work, not in policy or cultural change. There is a lack of funding for work focused on the root cause of the housing crisis and in non-traditional, community-based solutions for understanding and addressing the problem. One activist I spoke with described “a hole in funding for groups doing radical housing work.”
We used the February conference call as a catalyst for movement building – not just having guests talk at FEX’s community stakeholders but bringing people together to discuss how they might find common ground in their work. Good things have emerged since the call:
Campaign for a Fair Settlement has partnered with the Home Defenders League to bring an organizing component (organizing underwater homeowners) to the Campaign’s “inside baseball” tactics.
Take Back the Land has begun pursuing deeper relationships with funders and individual donors, realizing the historic role philanthropy can play in creating long-term social change, especially when non-violent direct action and community organizing is needed to get there.
As always, there’s a need for funding deeper change
These past few months we’ve been making connections in the community, learning about housing justice efforts and exploring what role FEX could play in this area. It’s clear that there is a high demand for radical funding for housing justice work.
We have begun organizing donors who are interested in creating a Housing Justice fund. Let me know if you want to be part of this effort! Give me a call at 212-529-5300 ext 315 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to get timely invitations to our political education calls, email is the best way to stay in touch. Give us an email address and we’ll make sure you can be on the next conversation!