HABITAT FOR HUMANITY ADVOCACY
Cost of Home Campaign
Habitat for Humanity International launched a worldwide campaign, Cost of Home, on June 12, 2019.The Cost of Home is the first national advocacy campaign for Habitat International. Habitat for Humanity International looks to mobilize local Habitat organizations, partners, volunteers, and community members across the country to find solutions and help create policies that will allow 10 million individuals to have access to stable housing. Over the next five years, the campaign will improve home affordability by promoting policy and systems change in four key areas: supply and preservation of affordable homes, access to credit, land use, and communities of opportunity.
Wasatch Back Cost of Home Efforts
The Wasatch Back, like many communities in our country, is facing an inadequate quantity of housing to sustain the workforce. The tourism economy and visitor growth cause the demand for the area. Visitor growth requires an increasing number of service workers, primarily low wage employment. Due to this housing market imbalance, many Wasatch Back communities are facing unprecedented housing demands. The housing challenge along the Wasatch Back is a function of multiple factors: low-income workforce, high housing costs, the influence of external market demand, quantity, and restrictive land-use regulations. Over the years, Wasatch Back towns and counties worked to address the need for affordable housing independently. There are successes; however, the current rate of affordable housing creation in Summit County may never catch up to the community’s growing need.
Through the Cost of Home campaign, Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties looks to engage housing advocates, Habitat homeowners, volunteers, and supporters —as well as federal, state, and local policymakers —to advance access to safe, decent, and affordable homes2. The local affiliate, Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties, joined as a partner in this campaign by starting a conversation in our community about the supply-side barriers to affordable housing.
In 2020, Habitat for Humanities of Summit and Wasatch Counties released Summit County Affordable Housing Solutions 2020. The document outlined solutions to increase affordable housing units, whether new or through measures that focus on the existing housing stock. The group of individuals contributing ideas to the final document included land developers, multifamily housing developers, realtors, planners, and architects. Input from those with these backgrounds significantly contributed to the practicality and feasibility of the recommended solutions, along with community fit. Resources from Habitat for Humanity International were incorporated into the document, including insights from other communities across the United States.
Cost of Home Milestones
- January 2020, Executive Director Shellie Barrus, and Alison Kuhlow advocated in favor of affordable housing policies up for vote during Utah’s legislative session.
- February 2020, Executive Director Shellie Barrus, and Alison Kuhlow attended Habitat for Humanity International’s Habitat on the Hill. This annual legislative conference is an opportunity for Habitat staff, board members, homeowners, resident leaders, volunteers and supporters from around the country to unite as advocates for safe and affordable housing.
- May 2020, Habitat for Humanities of Summit and Wasatch Counties signed on to support the national Cost of Home campaign.
- 2020 Release, Summit County Affordable Housing Solutions 2020 Download here.
- January 2021, Shellie Barrus and Alison Kuhlow tracked legislation that would impact housing affordability and worked in conjunction with other organizations to modify the drafted language.
- February 2021, Shellie Barrus and Alison Kuhlow met virtually with Utah’s congressional offices for Habitat on the Hill. Affiliates all over Utah coordinated messaging to strengthen the voice advocating for affordable housing.