In the USA, Thursday is Thanksgiving. It is a time of reflection and appreciation. Working in the social and public housing fields we should also take sometime in our busy hectic schedules to be thankful for the year that we had. There is no doubt that 2017 was challenging. From the terrible fire in the social housing apartment complex in London to tough funding from the Trump administration, there have been challenges. However, I watched from my platform in Seattle as thousands of dedicated, motivated and passionate people around the world did everything they could do to help those with the least. I could write all day but here are 10 of the reasons I am thankful and so proud to work with all of you.
- European Social Housing Stepping Up to Refugee Challenge: Despite waves of refugees coming to Europe over the last three years, social housing organizations are showing heart, determination and grit. They are coming up with new funding schemes to build housing while working hard on integration. Outside of food, water and air, the most important thing these families need is housing. Who better than our friends in the social/affordable housing sector to do this?
- Continued Development in Tough Financial Circumstances: From a new affordable housing building in Oakland to a small duplex in London to renovated housing in Argentina. I am constantly amazed how social and public housing providers continue to build and provide housing units in a tough funding climate. This takes ingenuity and persistence.
- Refusing to Let Populism Bring Down Morale: This blog is not about politics. It is about sharing great work. However; we will not pretend that 2016 and 2017 were not challenging politically. With all of the occasion to be negative, social and public housing providers continue to be pockets of openness, caring, equity and tolerance. This is important for those who have the least and it is important for the employees to have this space.
- Housing Vulnerable Populations: This is the core of what we do but lets not forget about how important it is. Elderly, disabled, mentally ill, refugees, those who are looked down upon in our societies. Social and public housing providers are often the place to protect and house many of these people. No matter the challenges, we will continue on.
- Being Innovative: I am lucky to have such an international view of our community. From the Link Group creating social enterprises in Scotland to elderly integration in Hanover Germany and programs to house mothers out of jail in Oakland- I am constantly amazed by the innovation happening in our industry. This way of thinking is what our industry needs.
- Continued Dedication of Staff: One reason I am happy to work directly in a social housing company is I get to see staff on all levels and their dedication. So from the Executive Directors like Andrew Lofton in Seattle and Cédric Van Styvendael in Lyon, France to front line staff like William Willis in Cuyahoga County and Carole Maltête at Paris Habitat- thank you all for what you do.
- Social Housing Festival: I am lucky to have worked in both Europe and the USA and made contacts in both countries. This opened the door for me to make it to the International Social Housing Festival in Amsterdam in June. It was a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. It was motivating, uplifting and led me to work with my partner Pepijn Bakker to create this site for you.
- Social Enterprise: The UK and Europe continue to lead the way with social enterprise within the social housing sector. This is exciting and fun to watch. Creating jobs and money that pour back into the mission could be the wave of the future.
- Advocacy of Industry Groups: Those working in the social housing continue to advocate for the provision of social housing. From CLPHA and NAHRO in the USA to CIH in England and AEDES in the Netherlands, we need organized advocacy. Housing Europe puts on amazing conferences and advocates like crazy for all member states. The same is true in so many countries around the world. We are thankful for our lobbyist and advocates. There is a lot of noise and we rely on you to break through and get our voices heard.
- Private Sector and Non-Profit Partners: We are finding that more private sector businesses and non-profits are partnering with the social and public housing industry. We need this competence and help. It is good for our residents and important for our business models in the long-term. Adaptation with heart should be our mantra as we move through challenging times.
2017 gives me much hope for our industry. The innovative thinking, intelligent leadership paired with the heart to help our fellow mankind is inspiring. I am often asked why I sit down on the weekends and write article after article for no pay. It is because of the people I encounter everyday who are doing amazing things and deserve to be recognized. We at ^Housing Futures thank everyone for their continued work going into 2018. Happy Thanksgiving to those inclined to celebrate around the world.