On January 15th, the 2nd day of the 2015 General Assembly session, around 100 advocates gathered at Centenary United Methodist Church in Richmond to receive training on housing issues and legislation before heading to the General Assembly to meet with their state legislators. The new space this year may not have had the view of the 24th floor at the Suntrust building used in previous years, but it offered an intimate atmosphere perfect for grassroots training and organizing.
The training session featured a lineup of veteran advocates paying special attention to those coming to Housing Day for their first time. Breakout groups were held for the Housing Trust Fund, Homelessness, Special Needs Housing, and Fair Housing. The training wrapped up just in time for a group of advocates to get to the Capitol to be recognized by Delegate Chris Peace from the floor of the House. Folks then broke into small groups and spread out through the General Assembly Building to make visits with legislators.
In the afternoon, we reconvened on the 7th floor of the General Assembly Building to hear Delegate Chris Peace address the group on the state budget. Delegate Alfonso Lopez and Senator Barbara Favola also spoke at the reception that followed, thanking advocates for their work in bringing our affordable housing issues to the GA. Then in our debrief, many attendees shared their meeting experiences, talked about next steps and made new connections with others in the room. Attendees felt encouraged and heartened to join with others from across the state to engage the General Assembly on the issues they are passionate about. At 100 attendees, we had the best turnout in years, and hope to continue building support for the HTF and other initiatives in the next year.
We were also very pleased to support Delegate Lopez in his press conference on the Housing Trust Fund and housing need in Virginia that was held the same morning! This is hopefully the first step in a greater media campaign on the HTF throughout 2015!
Thanks once again to all of our partners and sponsors, we could not do this event without you:
the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Habitat Virginia, the Virginia Association of Housing and Community Development Officials, Virginia Community Development Corporation, the Partnership for Housing Affordability and Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corporation