(Un)Conference Provides Opportunity for Affordable Housing Advocacy

Resident Empowerment Program (REP) partner and Hope Solutions’ supporter, Housing California, held their 2021 Virtual (Un)Conference on June 22nd through 24th. As the name of the conference suggests, the (Un)conference is a participant-driven meeting that draws multi-sector advocacy, direct service, residents, and legislative leaders to challenge California to create equitable, housed, and thriving communities through systems change and racial justice. This year’s conference featured Hope Solutions’ very own Nina Jorgensen, REP’s newest resident leader. Nina was a lived-experience expert panelist on day two’s “Tenant-Led Housing Justice Movements: Where Are We in 2021?” Workshop.

The workshop looked at the policy themes dominating the State Capitol in 2021 and explored what is to come in 2022. Nina spoke about REP’s involvement in Housing California’s Lobby Day, which brought together people from all over the state as one voice to speak virtually with legislators about important housing/homelessness policy and how they can change the lives of Californians. Nina recapped the persuasive conversations she and the REP team had with Assemblymembers Kevin Mullin, Ash Kalra, and Tim Grayson around AB71: Bring CA Home, which called for an annual investment of $2.4 billion in new funding solutions for homelessness and AB328 which would create a coordinated reentry housing program for individuals exiting incarceration. Nina shared her personal story of housing insecurity with the (Un)conference audience, weaving in the stories of her teammates to paint a realistic picture of why she and her colleagues advocate for more affordable housing. “This is my fire to fight for the next generation, to leave something behind for them, to not have to face this situation, to not happen to another family, to not happen to another child,” Nina explained to the audience.

“I was definitely nervous beforehand,” laughed Nina, “but I prayed, and a calm came over me as I saw my team in the virtual audience.” While Nina was the only REP leader featured at this year’s conference, Irma Bodden, Lori McLemore, and William Goodwin were all in attendance to support their colleague and participate in the sessions. Nina made sure that REP was represented.  “She did wonderfully! You would never guess this was Nina’s first time speaking without the team,” gushed Lori. “Nina even used pieces of my story up there. It felt like REP was on the panel.” Housing California’s thought-provoking conference will lay the groundwork for long-term structural reforms and homelessness solutions from the people on the front line of the housing crisis. REP is honored to work with Housing California to shape a new narrative about housing and homelessness to fulfill a vision of a sustainable, equitable, and housed California.

The Hope Solutions’ Resident Empowerment Program (REP) empowers affordable housing residents to advocate for the creation and retention of affordable housing and supportive services. We do this by developing the advocacy, public speaking and leadership skills of REP liaisons and speaking truth to power. Follow the Hope Solutions’ Resident Empowerment Program Leaders on Facebook.