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Message from Columbia Housing CEO Ivory N. Mathews


August Advocacy Week 2

Provide Universal Housing Choice Vouchers

A Message From Columbia Housing's Chief Executive Officer, Ivory N. Mathews

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) kicks off Week 2 of its August Advocacy with an incredibly important topic: Universal Housing Choice Vouchers and Columbia Housing is ALL IN! In the second week of NAHRO's August Advocacy campaign, NAHRO is calling on Congress and the White House to provide a housing choice voucher to every family who is eligible for assistance

In concert with NAHRO's August Advocacy efforts, Columbia Housing has activated a community-wide CH Advocates for Affordable Housing Campaign

The CH Advocates for Affordable Housing Campaign has set a goal of submitting 100 letters per week to Congress urging their support of allocating additional resources to address our local and national housing needs.

Tell Congress to Support Universal Housing Choice Vouchers
We send a very special shout out to our Affordable Housing Advocates and Colleagues in the Carolinas who have so graciously joined in supporting our August Advocacy efforts! "The path to success is to take massive, determined actions" - Tony Robbins. 

Beaufort Housing Authority (SC)
Benson Housing Authority (NC)
Burlington Housing Authority (NC)
Cayce Housing (SC)
Columbia Council of Neighborhoods
Columbia Housing (SC)
Conway Housing Authority (SC)
Countless Individuals
Easley Housing Authority (SC)
Goldsboro Housing Authority (NC)
Greenville Housing Authority (SC)
Greenwood Housing Authority (SC)
Greer Housing Authority (SC)
Kinston Housing Authority (NC)
Lenoir Housing Authority (NC)
Midlands Housing Trust Fund
Monroe Housing Authority (NC)
One Common Cause
On-Point with Cynthia Hardy
SC Uplift Community Outreach
Spartanburg Housing (SC)
Union Housing Authority (SC)
Wilson Housing Authority (NC)

The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded our nation's existing affordable housing crisis. In January 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported at least 580,466 people were homeless, which represents a 2.2 percent increase from 2019. In their annual Out of Reach report, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) found the average wage needed to afford a moderate, two-bedroom home is $29.90 per hour, which is much higher than the $7.25 federal minimum wage. 


South Carolina has been challenged like never before by the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing that did not change, however, is the reality that the cost of housing is increasing in our state and the amount of money that people earn to pay for housing is not on the same trajectory. As stated in the South Carolina Housing Needs Assessment published by the SC State Housing Finance & Development Authority:

  • 40 out of 46 counties, a basic 2-bedroom apartment is not affordable
  • 72,565 available subsidized units, enough for only 20% of low-income renters
  • 31% of SC households are at risk of being unable to meet basic needs because of high housing costs

Many South Carolina families fall in the category of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE is an integral part of our community.

  • Alice is employed at one of our hotels, ensuring that guests visiting our beautiful cities have a clean room to enjoy a restful night's sleep.
  • Alice is employed at one of our amazing restaurants, ensuring that customers are greeted with southern hospitality and a delicious meal.
  • Alice is employed by many of our small businesses who are an integral part of the production of goods and services to our local economy.
  • Alice is employed by our government institutions who are a huge economic driver in the Midlands.
  • Alice is employed by our hospital systems, ensuring our communities the very best of care during preventative and emergency visits.

Finally, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates one in five families with children was behind on rent this spring, according to data collected from April 14 - May 24, 2021. Our nation is at risk of additional homelessness if Congress does not act to address the housing crisis.

Speak out for families who need assistance by contacting your members of Congress and the White House now.

Tell Congress to Support Universal Housing Choice Vouchers

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Joint Industry Statement on Universal Housing Vouchers

Safe, secure, and stable housing is as essential to America's social safety net as are Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Housing stability is central to improving life outcomes and economic mobility for low-income Americans. However, only one in five low-income households that are eligible to receive housing assistance can be served by existing programs due to limited funding. The pandemic has reinforced that rental assistance, such as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, is critical to ensuring housing stability and managing sudden losses in income. Just as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are structured to be available to all who are eligible, rental assistance must be too. Expansion of the voucher program offers a proven and effective approach to scale universal housing assistance to address housing instability and prevent homelessness in America.
Housing Choice Vouchers are a proven source of permanent housing stability. They are highly effective at providing long-term financial stability to formerly homeless populations and others experiencing housing instability. A recent HUD study found that offering families a permanent housing voucher resulted in greater housing and family stability compared to short-term interventions. Furthermore, a recent study from Columbia University found that expanding housing vouchers to all eligible households could help reduce poverty by 9.3 million people as well as reduce racial disparities in poverty.
Vouchers are also frequently paired with supportive services to offer comprehensive assistance to individuals with complex mental and physical health conditions. Public housing authorities are uniquely positioned to aid low-income families in their challenges to regain employment and support children's virtual learning because of their partnerships with nonprofit and government service providers that focus on education, health, and employment. Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies recently reported on the critical role that service coordinators in publicly funded housing have played in providing food and supplies, assisting with technology, and combatting resident anxiety and loneliness.
Housing Choice Vouchers are a proven and effective rental assistance delivery system to scale universal housing assistance because they can be quickly distributed through the existing network of 2,200 state and local housing agencies that administer vouchers in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Housing authorities are trusted experts and partners in their local rental markets, have been administering the voucher program for nearly 50 years and are accountable to local and federal oversight and operate with significant public input. With the proper funding, housing authorities have the capacity for a rapid expansion.
Housing vouchers power local communities. Landlords, many of whom operate as a small business, understand that the voucher program is a guaranteed, reliable income source and provides the benefit of long-term stability. PHAs have been using the additional funding and regulatory relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expedite administrative processes most often cited by landlords as reasons for preferring unassisted tenants. With this funding, PHAs have also been able to offer incentives and support to increase landlord participation in the HCV program.
We must strive to be a nation that believes that all people deserve the security that comes from having a home. Housing Choice Vouchers are the path to achieving this vision.

Tell Congress to Support Universal Housing Choice Vouchers

Tell Congress Housing is Critical Infrastructure
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#CHAdvocatesAffordableHousing #Vision2030 #HousingIsInfrastructure #NAHRO #PowerofPartnerships #CHCares #SERCNAHRO #CHAdvocates #CCHRCO #AffordableHousingMatters #EconomicStability #EconomicInclusion

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Ivory N. Mathews, CEO of Columbia Housing currently serves in the following local, state, regional, and national affordable housing advocacy roles:

  • Congressional Contact for the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)
  • Legislative Representative - SC on the Legislative Committee for the Southeastern Regional Council of NAHRO (SERC-NAHRO)
  • Board Member & Officer for the Carolina's Council of Housing, Redevelopment & Codes Officials (CCHRCO)
  • Senior Vice-President for the Carolina's Council of Housing, Redevelopment & Codes Officials (CCHRCO)
  • Legislative Representative - SC on the Legislative Committee for the Carolina's Council of Housing, Redevelopment & Codes Officials (CCHRCO)
  • Board Member of the Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee for the South Carolina State Housing Finance, and Development Authority
  • Member of the SC Association of Housing Authority Executive Directors
  • Member of the City of Columbia's Affordable Housing Taskforce

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