Week 8: A Deepened Passion for Housing Justice

Matthew Lee of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Out of all the CLA Civic Leadership Sessions in the program, I particularly looked forward to the homelessness and housing policy panel. At school, I am part of a wonderful team where are have a mission to start a shelter for college students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. In addition, I have done my own personal research in the housing crisis in South Los Angeles, studying everything from leading nonprofits, foundations, advocacy groups, policies, elected officials, private developers, and individuals struggling to keep a roof over their head.

I know a lot. However, this issue is always rapidly changing as policies are passed, as developments are created, and as new research comes out. As an individual attempting to solve parts of the issue on both the student and nonprofit side, hearing from other professionals who have been in the work a lot longer than I have and from different spheres, like the public space and multi-million dollar nonprofit organizations, provides a multitude of invaluable insight that allows me to have a more holistic perspective on homelessness and housing policy.

It was amazing to hear from the work Olivia Lee has been doing in the public sector, specifically with the LA Chamber of Commerce. I usually learn housing issues through the perspective of the people struggling with housing. I never heard it from the perspective of businesses and the economic impact it may have on them. Lee said that businesses need to be concerned about homelessness and affordable housing because their employees need to be able to find a place to live. If housing is too expensive, then recruiting talented employees is going to be hard. If they aren’t taken care of, then the business isn’t taken care of.

Hearing this perspective allowed me to reorient how I approach different entities when talking about housing. Since equitable housing isn’t always in the line of priorities for businesses, I learned to reorient the framing from justice to economic opportunity caters to the priorities these for-profit entities may have.

Michael Nailat speaking to the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Data has become the next hot commodity in this economy, and I was captivated by what Michael Nailat had to say about data analytics when it comes to the homelessness issue. With the technology and resources available, measuring impact and evaluating changes in programs is crucial to effectively creating systems that actually help individuals experiencing homelessness. I was able to learn how United Way deals with biased data and how they use their information to improve their programs. As the field of data continues to grow, I am excited to see how it can be used to solve complex social issues like homelessness.

Matthew Lee of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Learning about different issues throughout the CLA Workshops provides invaluable insight. From issues I know little about to issues I have a deep sense in, I always leave Monday’s changed, either with new knowledge of wisdom or with a renewed sense of empowerment. As the program comes to a close, I am making sure to relish every bit of insight I get because I know I can take this with me and bring actual change and impact in my community.