There has always been a certain iconography surrounding housing, from the perfect family standing near their perfect home, to the image of housing as an ATM. The image and message has almost always been positive. In the post-housing-crisis world, new iconic images are taking hold: a house with tall grass and a foreclosure sign in the lawn with an accompanying negative message about housing. In reality, housing has always been a more complicated than the imagery and housing options are as varied as the people that live in it. That’s never been truer than today as people’s housing situations have changed dramatically.
The new image and message that is taking hold, however, pose real risks to everyone who is advocating for housing including home builders, realtors, and affordable housing advocates. Perceptions become reality, whether accurate or not. And those perceptions may not be conducive to getting the message out that many Americans have real housing problems in need of solutions. This growing image and message needs to be countered with one that is more reflective of what has been true for quite some time; that people call a variety of places “home” and that whether that home is owned or rented it is still an integral part of what we call community and the American experience.
The National Housing Conference, as the “United Voice for Housing” has stepped up to address this issue through yesterday’s successful launch of their Housing Communications Network (the Network). The launch featured a panel discussion with communications experts John Buckley, Managing Director of the Harbour Group, Tony Fratto, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary in the George W. Bush Administration, and Jody Shenn, Mortgage and Housing Reporter for Bloomberg News. The panel was moderated Erika Poethig, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Please join us in crafting a new message for housing that is both more accurate and reflects the many positive attributes associated with the place we call “home”. In the process, we will elevate housing to a first-tier issue getting the attention it so rightfully deserves. NHC has formed a Working Group that will meet regularly. Please give us your thoughts on how we can create some new housing icons in Housing’s New Era!
Images: via, momoy.com and fotosearch.com