Meyer’s Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) identifies housing advocacy as a key strategy for advancing a broader agenda around improving access to safe, decent and affordable housing around the state. Whether in the form of grass-roots organizing, policy research and analysis, coalition-building, or well-designed messaging, advocacy can help to draw attention to urgent housing challenges and elevate the conversation statewide and in local communities.
Meyer’s housing team recognizes that there is special urgency around housing issues across the state right now. The steep climb in housing costs has elected officials, community leaders and housing advocates scrambling for tools and solutions to ease the burden on low-income Oregonians, and the issue was front-and-center at the Legislature last session like never before.
This spring, Meyer announced the AHI’s third Request for Proposals to support community-driven public policy advocacy and community organizing aimed at expanding the availability of affordable housing to low-income Oregonians. We again invited proposals for up to two years, with eligibility broadly defined to include projects that increase the number and diversity of voices engaged in housing advocacy and that promote concrete policy and systems changes at both the local and statewide levels.
The Meyer housing team reviewed the 22 proposals received from across Oregon in response to the RFP, totaling almost $1.4 million in requests. Altogether, 12 grants totaling $717,000 over the next two years were approved.
This RFP allowed proposals under two categories:
“Campaign Leader” grants of up to $60,000 per year for 1-2 years for focused and targeted efforts with a clear policy or systems change goal led by a strong coalition of partners with a credible plan to succeed
“Advocacy Mobilizer” grants of up to $30,000 per year for 1-2 years, to support community organizing at an earlier stage of organizing than Campaign Leaders, or work focused on broader base-building, issue identification, etc.
The intent of the RFP was summarized in five specific outcomes:
More effective and strategic housing advocacy and organizing in communities around the state and in the Oregon Legislature
Increased support for affordable housing by policy-makers and the general public
Measurable progress on local and/or state-level policies or systems changes that increase resources for affordable housing and/or reduce barriers to affordable housing access and development
An expansion in the number and diversity of stakeholders and constituencies engaged in affordable housing advocacy across the state
Effective, replicable models and strategies for organizations seeking to improve the effectiveness of their advocacy efforts
Consistent with Meyer’s focus on equity, the RFP criteria emphasized benefiting communities of color, culturally specific organizations, and underserved rural communities in both expected outcomes and in the design and implementation of projects.
Meyer is pleased to support these 12 projects:
1000 Friends of Oregon (Multnomah County)
Portland for Everyone - $65,000
To support Portland for Everyone in mobilizing a coalition of advocates, community-based organizations, neighborhoods and local businesses that will urge Portland City Council to make inclusive and equitable land-use policy decisions that expand housing choice and availability
Oregon Opportunity Network (Statewide)
Equitable Investments in Housing: Oregon Mortgage Interest Deduction Reform - $120,000
To expand and support a broad-based, progressive coalition, led by Oregon Opportunity Network and Oregon Center for Public Policy, to reform Oregon's mortgage interest deduction and investment in affordable housing statewide
CASA of Oregon (10 counties in eastern Oregon)
Eastern Oregon Housing & Asset Building Network - $60,000
To establish a network of housing and asset-building providers in rural eastern Oregon to create a common agenda, shared measurements, continuous communication, mutually reinforcing activities and backbone support
Habitat for Humanity of Oregon (Statewide)
Empower and Mobilize Oregon Affiliates for Successful Local Advocacy -$40,000
To empower all 29 Oregon Habitat for Humanity affiliates to conduct successful local advocacy efforts
MACG Vision (Clackamas and Marion counties)
Clackamas Mobilization - $60,000
To mobilize members of faith organizations and other housing advocates in Clackamas County and northern Marion County, including individuals directly impacted by the area’s housing crisis, to advocate for more resources and policies to support affordable housing
OPAL (Portland Metro)
Southwest Corridor Coalition - $60,000
To build a lasting coalition led by low-income residents focused on equitable housing and community investments without displacement as the Portland region plans new high-capacity transit along the Southwest Corridor
Oregon Center for Public Policy (Statewide)
A Rent Assistance Program for Oregon - $50,000
To analyze and develop policy concepts for state-funded rent assistance to address the plight of Oregon families most at risk of becoming homeless
Oregon Food Bank (Statewide)
Engaging New Housing Advocacy Voices from the Food Assistance World - $46,000
To increase the number and diversity of housing advocates by bringing the voices of clients, organizations and volunteers involved in food assistance throughout Oregon into the movement for affordable housing
Oregon Opportunity Network/Welcome Home Coalition (Portland Metro)
Welcome Home Coalition - $60,000
To mobilize advocates, volunteers and partner organizations to establish reliable, dedicated revenue sources in the Portland region to fund homelessness prevention, affordable housing and homeownership programs
ROSE Community Development (Multnomah County)
97266 Housing Leadership Team - $60,000
To bring together diverse community members, to build leadership and power to fight against displacement in Portland’s Lents neighborhood, and to support and lead local housing advocacy initiatives
Street Roots (Statewide)
Street Roots Rural Housing Reporting Project - $36,000
To develop dedicated reporting on rural housing issues to help bridge the rural/urban divide in Oregon and promote better understanding of issues communities across the state face and the common ground that all can rally around
Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services (Benton County)
Housing Advocacy in Corvallis and Benton County - $60,000
To support a housing advocacy campaign that will engage diverse and underrepresented people in securing the resources needed to improve housing resources in Corvallis and throughout Linn and Benton counties
This slate of grants represents a diverse range of approaches from public policy research and analysis to grass-roots organizing to sophisticated and strategic efforts to influence statewide priorities and resources. Geographically, these grants include projects focused on some of Oregon’s most under-resourced and isolated counties, areas where activism and energy are really blossoming like Corvallis and Clackamas County, and statewide projects focused on bringing more of what Israel Bayer of Street Roots calls “unexpected messengers” — people speaking to housing issues whom one might not expect — to inform discussions around affordable housing needs and solutions.
As part of our emphasis on shared learning and informing the field, Meyer will convene a gathering of advocacy grantees in late summer/early fall to build connections, compare notes and forge alliances.