For the second year, September marks the National Month for Renters, designated in 2017 with bipartisan congressional support to raise awareness for the millions of working Americans who struggle to pay their rents each month.

Makayla holds up Make Room signs after the campaign visits Detroit.
Sasha Arutyunova Makayla holds up Make Room signs after the campaign visits Detroit.

Behind the effort is Make Room, a nonprofit working to end the national rental housing crisis, which is ratcheting up its efforts this month to rally the multifamily industry and expand the number of supporters and community advocates to make housing affordability a priority.

“Our goal is to get a million people advocating for housing solutions to end the rental housing crisis,” says Ali Solis, president and CEO of Make Room.

The nonprofit will create awareness with public art installations in high-traffic areas in Washington, D.C., between Sept. 13 and 28. Its Doors of Make Room Public Art Exhibit will feature 11 3-foot-by-7-foot fiberglass sculptures of doors by artists who were selected through a national RFP process.

“The 11 doors represent the 11 million households that are rent burdened and paying more than half of their incomes on housing costs,” adds Solis. “The door for us is symbolic because the issue of housing affordability has been a hidden crisis behind closed doors when you just can’t make ends meet. The other notion of unlocking doors is bringing this crisis into the forefront, having people talk about it, and empowering people to say it’s not right.”

In addition, Make Room has launched a two-minute video as part of its #RepRenters digital campaign that tells the real stories of families from all walks of life who have struggled with housing insecurity and emphasizes how the nation has not made housing affordability a priority over the decades.

Make Home also will bring its Home, Health & Finance Expo and Symposium to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16, Miami on Sept. 22, and Chicago in October. These events will connect local renters with service providers to stabilize their housing, access insurance, build or restore their credit, and receive health and wellness assessments.

J.W. Cortes, a Marine combat veteran who stars on the Fox drama Gotham and still actively works as an MTA police officer in New York City, will be Make Room’s celebrity ambassador and will kick off the Washington, D.C., event with a one-on-one discussion with Solis about housing insecurity and his personal connection to the issue.

“This gives us an opportunity to connect directly with the renters who are struggling in the communities and connect them to all of the service providers,” adds Solis.

The lead presenting sponsor of the expo and symposium events is CitiBank, and other supporters include the Credit Builders Alliance, AT&T, Volunteers of America, National Multifamily Housing Council, CohnReznick, and Enterprise Community Partners.