Adequate housing is a human right that is fundamental to every person’s survival, development, and well-being. In the United States, however, housing rights are not guaranteed by law. There are mandates providing protection from housing discrimination, while the term ‘right to shelter’ varies by state.
This legal framework is only the first step towards recognizing housing as a human right. As one of the locally based nonprofit organizations fulfilling their mission through donors and volunteers, the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of New Haven devotes its efforts to developing affordable housing and increasing homeownership, as well as working to improve the perceptions of the communities in which they are working by helping residents take charge of their neighborhoods. Through a range of initiatives and services, NHS provides homebuyer education and financial coaching; makes homes safe, beautiful, and energy-efficient; and helps residents take charge of their neighborhoods.
Advocating for safe, secure, and sustainable housing
NHS of New Haven is also a member organization of NeighborWorks America, another nonpartisan nonprofit that amplifies the capacity and reach of network organizations when it comes to empowering underserved neighborhoods to confront the community-wide problems they face. NeighborWorks America recently held a national training for neighborhood leaders to develop their passion and expertise in completing their respective community projects. These projects cover pandemic response, particularly in disproportionately affected communities of color, as well as food aid and distribution, and book drives to local schools.
To zero in on NHS’ advocacy for safe and affordable New Haven neighborhoods, it is essential to look into their comprehensive revitalization strategy. With the help of local and state subsidies, the organization has been able to acquire and rehabilitate previously uninhabitable properties. These residences that have been transformed from the interiors down to landscaping are then sold to families for below the renovation cost. As of writing, the NHS New Haven has built beautiful and high-quality housing for around 504 families among underserved neighborhoods, while also integrating environmental sustainability into its overall impact.
On top of climate-smart gardens and landscapes, NHS counsels residents on energy efficiency and remediation. Additionally, it offers energy conservation grants for homeowners in order to reduce the costs of energy bills and retrofitting measures. Examples of energy-efficient home improvements include efficient HVAC systems, water heating technologies, and insulation. Through these efforts and grants, neighborhoods can contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions without compromising their finances and quality of living.
The New Haven HomeOwnership Center (HOC) aims to help prospective homebuyers alone their homeownership journey. Among all education programs and classes that they provide, the HOC also provides financial education. Doing so ensures that residents, especially those who are more vulnerable to economic shocks, have the skills and confidence to make financially appropriate housing decisions.
Lastly, NHS is committed to creating healthy communities with residents and volunteers. The Resident Leadership Program has trained over 150 resident leaders to participate in a curriculum designed to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion across different backgrounds and identities. Meanwhile, the organization continues to work with a team of volunteers for the facilitation of neighborhood access to public parks, beautification projects and murals with professional artists, and the maintenance of rain gardens that helps divert storm-water runoff and prevents pollution.All of these efforts toward improving the neighborhoods of New Haven would not be possible without partners, donors, and volunteers. If you want to help make a positive impact through your time and resources, you can check out the official website of NHS New Haven.
Prepared by: Julie Blenmatt