Jane Harrison Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing
The Jane Harrison Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing, an annual event sponsored by HPRP, has brought a wide range of experts to Baltimore.
In 2016, Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, spoke on his research into eviction and its impact on those living in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.
"I think we need to keep the message simple and direct," he said in his remarks. "We can't fix poverty without fixing housing."
The sold-out event also featured a panel discussing housing and eviction issues, and solutions, in Baltimore, where 7,000 families are evicted each year. The panel included:
- Hon. Mark Scurti, Associate Judge, Baltimore City District Court
- Karen Wabeke, Senior Staff Attorney, Homeless Persons Representation Project
- Zafar Shah, Staff Attorney, Public Justice Center
- Rick M. Grams, Attorney, Sagal, Filbert, Quasney & Betten P.A.
- Jessica Lewis, Lead Organizer, Right to Housing Alliance
In 2013, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings was the keynote speaker, who addressed the importance of funding the National Housing Trust Fund.
The 2013 event also featured a panel that included:
- Sheila Crowley – President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition
- Paul Graziano - Baltimore City Housing Commissioner
- Trudy McFall - Chairman, Homes for America and then President of the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition
- Jeff Singer - Instructor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work
Concurrent with the speaker event, HPRP released “Housing Our Neighbors: The National Housing Trust Fund & Affordable Housing, a White Paper” by Jeff Singer detailing the need for renewed national funding for affordable housing development, including funding for the NHTF.
Following the event, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined the United for Homes Campaign calling for funding for the NHTF. In January 2014, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin signed onto a letter with 31 other senators asking the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to begin funding the NHTF through contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (as originally provided by statute). In March 2014, then Governor Martin O’Malley issued a public statement in support of funding for the NHTF. In December 2014, the FHFA Director announced that he would begin making contributions to NHTF.
In the fifth of HPRP's Jane Harrison Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing, HPRP joined Health Care for the Homeless to bring together five local experts to discuss various aspects of the relationship between housing and health.
- Dr. Stefanie DeLuca, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
- Dr. Thomas LaVeist, Director, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions & William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Dr. Craig Pollack, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Dr. Rachel Johnson Thornton, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Kevin Lindamood, President/CEO, Health Care for the Homeless
Three speakers and a panel of experts diescussed not only the need for housing, but how to change the conversation away from a sense of the inevitability of homelessness and toward the notion of housing for all.
"A Life Without Housing" by Tanya Tull (right in photo), CEO of Beyond Shelter, who discussed the trauma of homelessness and its effect on homeless families.
"Implementing a Right to Housing" featured Florence Roisman (left in photo), William F. Harvey Professor of Law at Indiana University, who discussed cthe legal concept of a right to housing.
"Housing Development for All" was presented by Trudy McFall, Chairman, Homes for America, who discussed concrete changes necessary in government funding of affordable housing to expand the support of affordable housing in Maryland.
The panel discussed next steps for advocacy and identified three primary advocacy initiatives:
- Prohibiting discrimination based on source of income
- Pursuing a local one-for-one replacement requirement regarding the loss of affordable housing
- Improving affordable housing development at the state level