Eric Burmeister Has the Floor

Not by Chance, Through Intentional Change

Eric Burmeister Has the Floor

February 25, 2021

This has been a week of change.  For many it has been the change from the brutal cold of early February to the thaw that is Iowa’s transition to early spring.  For the staff at Polk County Housing Trust Fund it has also been 5 days of endings and beginnings.

EVICTION PREVENTION
On Monday, we made the final transition of our eviction prevention project at the Justice Center to IMPACT Community Action Partnership.  Funded with almost $15M of federal rental assistance funds, IMPACT can better serve those Polk County renters facing eviction and homelessness.  We are proud of the work we did to save over 1,000 households from eviction and grateful for the donors who provided almost $2M to that effort.

HOUSING JUSTICE
Today we are breaking down the Undesign the Redline Exhibit at Franklin Junior High.  While that exhibit will likely be seen again, over the past 11 months staff has curated a huge collection of virtual tours, artifacts, interviews and other relevant material and made them all accessible virtually at www.undesigndsm.com.  This allowed us to reach many more people than we could with a single exhibit and safely continue our education and advocacy work during a pandemic.

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
With those endings come two beginnings.  This week our 2021 Stable, Steady, Strong campaign rolls out to the community.  For the first time our Board and staff will be meeting our donors virtually.  Staff has been working hard to tell the story of our Program and Supportive Services funding in compelling and creative ways. For example, in this 5-minute video, providers share personal insights on the work made possible because of the funds we raise.  Given the generosity of our community as evidenced by the over $500,000 in December donations to the Justice Center Project, we have every expectation our annual campaign will continue that tradition.

3 HOUSING CHALLENGES
Finally, this week brings the introduction of our three housing challenges for 2021.  These three will be the focus of staff’s work for the remainder of the year.  First, we know that COVID-19 and its effects are not over.  We will continue to address the housing instability created by the pandemic in both our advocacy and funding. 

Second, the pandemic has only magnified the need for a coordinated regional housing plan.  As we’ve seen, no community is immune from the impact of an economic catastrophe.  We saw residents of EVERY city at the Justice Center facing eviction and homelessness.  We must redouble our efforts to address housing affordability across the region.

Third, our work in Redlining in 2020 now calls us to act boldly to promote Housing Justice.  We will organize our community to address the inequities caused by generations of racist housing policies.  We will propose and fund bold initiatives that can quickly level the field for our black and brown neighbors who have fallen behind in housing wealth and stability.  We will use our voice to make Polk County a place where all can choose where they live and to prosper for future generations.  

Thank you for your interest, support and engagement in the work we do. As we know, things will not get better by chance. Our community’s housing situation will only improve with our intentional and relentless commitment to change.