The FWD Special: Sustaining the Fight for Fair Housing

The FWD #SE6

299 Words

by Mariah Williams, Director of Research and Policy at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia

The Role of Collectivism, Community, and Strategic Disruption

Virginia’s housing stakeholders are fighting during unprecedented times. This moment requires us to think differently and be radical in our fight for more equitable housing. At HOME of Virginia’s 3rd Annual Fair Housing Summit, Confronting Barriers: Sustaining the Fight for Fair Housing, keynote speaker, activist, and organizer Bree Newsome Bass reminded us that even as housing discrimination persists during COVID-19, the roles of collectivism, community, and strategic disruption remain important in Virginia’s fight for housing justice. 

Bree encouraged us to move beyond the status quo which tells us that we must choose either policy reform or direct action and civil disobedience, but never both. Instead, we must continue to address systemic housing inequity using strategies that involve direct action and strategic protest as well as policy and legislative reform.  

Conference presenters spoke to a variety of solutions for ensuring that the communities most severely impacted by these policies are put at the forefront of decision-making. These communities can work together with stakeholders to share strategies and tactics that result in material changes, especially for people of color. 

The summit ended with remarks from Mally Dryden-Mason from the Virginia Fair Housing Office and an overview of fair housing complaints filed throughout the Commonwealth over the past year. The session highlighted that while we continue to make strides in combatting systemic housing discrimination, there is still work to do.

Walking away from the summit, it became abundantly clear as to how we sustain Virginia’s fight for fair housing. The answer is, together. It is only through strategic organizing and collaboration that we will dismantle and disrupt housing inequity. 

For those interested in more conference highlights and materials, HOME of VA will be making all session recordings available to attendees in the coming weeks, including presentations, session transcripts, and presenter contact information.

The perspectives expressed in this post are the author’s opinions and do not necessarily reflect the positions of HousingForward Virginia.

Mariah Williams is the Director of Research and Policy at HOME of Virginia. Her research includes access to opportunity, housing affordability, mortgage lending, and foreclosures. She has also conducted research on placemaking and social justice in the built environment. Her work has been featured in Next City, the Third Wave Urbanism podcast, and The Spark Mill’s Sparkler blog.

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