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Press Release

Release date: 10/24/2023

Survey: Stronger leadership, resident voices severely missing
in affordable housing conversations
NeighborWorks’ Community Leadership Institute empowers residents to speak up, take action
to bring positive change to communities
Washington, D.C. – A majority of Americans are concerned about a lack of affordable housing in their communities, but few agree there is strong or sufficient leadership speaking on behalf of affordable housing or that resident voices are being heard, according to a new survey from NeighborWorks America.
According to the survey, 74% of Americans said they are concerned about the lack of affordable housing in their community, however, only 1 in 4 feel their voice is being heard on the issue (26%). The survey also found that just 1 in 3 Americans agree there is strong leadership speaking on behalf of their communities and that few believe there are enough people overall speaking on behalf of affordable housing (34% and 35% respectively).

“At a time when affordable housing is not just a policy challenge but a moral imperative, it is critical that community leaders and residents unite with a resounding, collective voice in support for affordable housing,” said NeighborWorks America’s President & CEO Marietta Rodriguez. “Residents particularly play a pivotal role in being heard because of their intimate understanding of the housing needs in their neighborhoods. Too often residents are not invited to weigh in on decisions and that results in missed opportunities to position them as key problem solvers,” Rodriguez said.

The NeighborWorks survey reveals “a startling need” for residents to be equipped with tools to help elevate their voices and ensure their opinions are heard and are given equal importance to others in their communities, including leaders in business and government, Rodriguez added.
On Oct. 26-29, NeighborWorks will gather more than 400 resident leaders from across the country in
the country in San Francisco for leadership training at its annual Community Leadership Institute (CLI). Community leaders from across the U.S., Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico attend in small teams and attend a range of courses. After each CLI, NeighborWorks awards more than $200,000 for each  participating team to create an action plan for community-based projects aimed at making positive change in their neighborhoods. According to a NeighborWorks report published in 2020, 95% of NeighborWorks' CLI teams led community initiatives in just six months following their training experience.
Since the first national CLI in 2008, NeighborWorks has trained more than 10,000 community leaders and provided more than $3 million to support resident-led community projects that support affordable housing and community development.
At this year’s CLI five exemplary resident leaders will receive the 2023 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals with the vision, commitment and endurance to identify a problem, what it takes to solve it and then see it through. Dorothy Richardson was a groundbreaker in the movement for community-driven affordable housing and the leading force behind the creation of the agency that is NeighborWorks today.
This year’s honorees include:
“The Community Leadership Institute motivated me 100 times more,” said 2023 honoree James Page, Jr. “I was able to see all these people doing things that I could relate to. That experience was something that makes you really want to invest more. I can't fix my community by myself, but I can be a part of it.”
About NeighborWorks America  
For 45 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 nonprofits in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation's leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment and education.  
About the NeighborWorks survey 
The survey was conducted by Morning Consult Oct. 6-8, 2023, among a sample of 2,209 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.