Habitat on the Hill: Building a More Equitable Future

In February two members of the Habitat Vail Valley team joined 600 housing advocates from around the country at Habitat for Humanity’s annual legislative conference, Habitat on the Hill: Building a More Equitable Future. The three-day seminar was held at a critical time to make our voices heard for housing—the pandemic has deepened inequities in who can afford the cost of home.

We heard from Adrianne Todman, deputy secretary of HUD, who urges the expansion of equitable access to housing, saying there’s an urgent need for transformational investment in housing now.

“There is much more to be done, and miles to go before we sleep. Housing needs in our nation are greater than ever,” she said. Adding that costs are rising, and we need to improve policies and systems to ensure everyone has a decent place to live.

Congressional meetings are the heart of Habitat on the Hill, and the conference provided participants the best opportunity to make Habitat’s priorities clear to members of Congress. Director of Development Elyse Howard met with Senators Bennett and Hickenlooper’s office and Congresswoman Boebert’s office to urge them to invest in housing affordability as part of future economic recovery and infrastructure measures.

The housing crisis is clear here at home—there are fewer rentals available, and the cost of homes have skyrocketed. Habitat Vail Valley is set on collaborating and partnering to advocate at the federal, state and local levels… as well as building more homes for hardworking locals.

One of the seminars included ‘Turning NIMBYism into YIMBYism.’ Oftentimes ‘no more development’ is disguised under environmental concerns (anyone remember the big horn sheep in East Vail) or trying to maintain the rural/historic character of an area. It’s not that the proponents of these causes don’t believe in them, it’s that they stymie development in areas where it makes sense to develop. It was pointed out one can love the environment and still allow development.  Greg Anderson, director of community affairs at Austin Habitat for Humanity, shared how the city has limited development to the extent that this is the first year there are NO teachers in the school system who live in Austin—they are priced out. We work to ensure that essential workers in Eagle County will have a place to call home.