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FHO In the News: Grant Makers Support Affordable Housing to Further Many Other Causes

In a special series, the Chronicle of Philanthropy examined opportunities to expand affordable housing access and where funders can have an impact, including funding narrative change efforts.

“'People need a place to live in an area that’s decent, has access to opportunities, and allows them to thrive,' says Susan Thomas, president of the Melville Charitable Trust, which concentrates its grant making on preventing and ending homelessness. 'It’s as simple as that.' [...]

"Help the public better understand why people can’t afford homes. Philanthropy is supporting nonprofit journalism, communications research, and public information campaigns to change policy and public opinion. Similar strategies were used to help change laws and thinking about same-sex marriage, seat belts, and tobacco use. Funders for Housing and Opportunity, a group of foundations, funded a three-year effort to develop messages that help advocates explain that housing is a common good rather than a commodity and access to housing is a racial-justice issue.

Thomas, of the Melville Charitable Trust, which helped create the housing donor group Funders for Housing and Opportunity, says philanthropy has a vital role in exploring new ways to solve the housing crisis. But she adds that 'philanthropy needs to be challenged in the way that it’s looking at housing.'

Housing 'is not a project. It’s not a program. It is fundamental to being able to do anything else,' Thomas says."

This article was written by Eden Stiffman for the Chronicle of Philanthropy.


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