Promoting the positive aspects of the nation's affordable housing continues to be an uphill battle for the industry.
Some instances of negative press regarding the affordable housing industry on both coasts have been brought to my attention recently.
In addition to educating local, state, and federal legislators about the benefits of affordable housing and working with community groups to overcome NIMBYism, deflecting the negative publicity that comes with some newspaper, Web site, and television investigative reports is another proactive job to add to the to-do list for the nation's developers and owners.
There's positive press as well, but it seems like the more critical pieces gain traction and are the ones remembered and rehashed by members of the community. Regardless of the merit, one bad mark in the press against affordable housing and the bandwagon will grow. If you look at the comments to some of these pieces online, the unfavorable comments outweigh the ones in support of affordable housing.
And in my experience regarding public perception, there have been several occasions in the past where after I tell someone about the work I do, they'll go into a rant about what they think is wrong with the nation's affordable housing.
Starting at last year's AHF Live, AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE has been spreading the message about educating Congress, especially the newly elected, about the low-income housing tax credit and affordable housing. Just as you are telling your legislators about the jobs, incomes, and other revenue being created in your communities, it's also important to get your own positive stories out there with the local media.
Many of you already do this. I see news releases from developers, housing agencies, financial providers, and PR firms on a regular basis about groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings. Be sure you're inviting the local media outlets to your events and giving them statistics about what your developments are providing for the surrounding neighborhood and stories about the people you are serving. Promoting the good that you're doing with your developments will help to counteract the negative perceptions.
The education conversation will continue at this year's AHF Live, which will be held Nov. 2-4 at the Swissotel in Chicago.
There also will be a host of panels that will provide strategies to make your deals viable regardless of the obstacles that come your way in 2012.
For more information or to register, go to www.ahflive.com.
Attendance for AHF Live is reserved exclusively for people who are primarily owners and developers of affordable housing, plus state and local housing finance agency representatives and nonprofit organizations focused on the business of affordable housing.