DMDC Takes Our Mission to Washington
Eric Burmeister reflects on a trip to our nation's capital
“Why Washington?” Two years ago I would have asked the same question. In 2012 the PCHTF was moving ahead with a new strategic plan to better define the organization, focus its mission and enhance its value to the community. The Board was not satisfied with being just a conduit for funds. The phrase “go to organization” was the one used most frequently during those early days. I’m not sure any of us had a definition of what that meant, nor could point to concrete examples.
In 2014 it is easier to envision those examples and one is the Partnership trip to Washington, DC. For Central Iowans, DMDC needs little explanation. In its 35th year, it is a three day showcase of what is great about the metro combined with a long “wish list” of local projects and policies directed to the Iowa congressional delegation and their staffs. Each of the 200 participants comes with a unique agenda, some wearing multiple hats as a representative for numerous constituencies, some with a single purpose.
So, “Why Washington?” It is clearly an appropriate and effective forum to deliver our message. Affordable housing has a place in every discussion involving the future of the metro. It belongs at Economic Development tables, discussions on Education and Workforce recruitment and planning for health care and transportation. We can’t risk that it be an afterthought – or worse yet a no-thought. The metro is filled with examples of places where affordable housing is now critically needed but locked out because of high land costs and neighborhood resistance.
The PCHTF’s presence on this trip made a statement to the community leadership that affordable housing is ready to claim its place at all the tables. It is ready to do so with data that is surprising and disturbing to some area officials. It is ready to do so with respectful challenges to long standing policies that result in exclusion of workers needing affordable places to live adjacent to their jobs. It is ready to do so by looking critically at what works for other progressive metros around the country and tailoring those solutions for central Iowa.
Thanks to Midwest Housing Equity Group for sponsoring the DMDC Housing Panel on May 7.