As CEF has grown and blossomed over the years, we have been reminded, time and again, of the importance of being nimble and adaptive as we grow. As you will see in this report, 2019 was no different. In the enclosed stories you will learn more about CEF’s deepening advocacy work; read about the programs we’ve built and strengthened; hear directly from Members, Advocates, and Staff about their connection to CEF; and see our quantitative impact.
“We are overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to grow with the over 1,000 Members and 250 Advocates who show up every day to care for each other. It encourages us to learn from and lean on one another as we move forward together. Thank you for believing in this community of boundless support as we grow towards the abundant possibilities we have before us.”
Written by Joyce Yao and Connie Longmate
“Stay in school, stay in the Movement.”
— Reverend Liz Theoharis of the Poor People’s Campaign,
On the first weekend in March, CEF Advocates from UNC and Duke put aside their rivalries, to come together and co-host the 2nd annual Summit on Homelessness and Poverty! The three-day summit brought together over 100 students from 25 schools from across the country to share experiences, workshop ideas, and learn from longtime local community organizers. Their collective goal was to continue to grow a national coalition of student organizations dedicated to dismantling systems that perpetuate hunger, homelessness, and poverty.
“The cost of poverty, broadly, is so much higher than the cost of paying people fairly.”
—Jill Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem
Last year, students at Brown University held the inaugural Summit on Homelessness and Poverty that brought together a coalition of student organizations from across the country dedicated to dismantling systems that perpetuate homelessness and poverty. In the 8 months of planning, the summit vision truly came together when Megan Miller and Olivia Simpson proposed that the theme of the Summit be “Abundance,” with the idea that the communities we work within have an abundance of love, resilience, and (as CEF likes to say) people who are “creative resourceful and whole”— and therefore our work should be about uplifting and celebrating that abundance. Hosting this summit meant that we got to help to create a unique space for students to reflect on and share about the abundance in their own communities.
“Joy can be an act of revolution!”
—George Barrett, The Marian Cheek Jackson Center
The weekend was a tremendous labor of love. A true test of the commitment to the work we do, as well as of our ability to open ourselves up to new forms of the pursuit of social justice, which is important perspective when you find yourself debating seemingly trivial things like the number of coffee cups to order and the most fitting genre of music for the welcome reception. We succeeded in bringing together students from different regions of the country involved in all kinds of anti-poverty and homelessness work, effectively connecting one another to a network of students engaged in demanding work that requires the solidarity and accountability that community offers. I’m especially proud of the fundraising we chased extra hard with the goal of lowering financial barriers for folks to participate.
“If you don’t know you don’t know, but once you know, I’m going to hold you accountable.”
— Andrea Hudson, Community Bail Fund
We created sessions around Race Policing and Poverty, Vulnerable Populations, Public Health, Urban Renewal & Displacement (watch the video below), Social Service Gaps and How We Fill Them, Advocating for Policy Change to facilitate a space where students could share, learn, and grow from peers. Hosting the summit also gave us the opportunity to spotlight longtime community organizations and organizers who shared their brilliant wisdom and experiences of organizing in the South.
We are so grateful for our community partners and all of the students who are working alongside their communities to fight for justice through the celebration abundance. It was an honor to host the 2nd annual summit and we’re excited to continue to build the Student Coalition Against Homelessness & Poverty.
“When you are with CEF, you are a part of the thread that makes us all one community.” Chinita is a CEF graduate, and her poetic statement during a CEF celebration perfectly describes the palpable connectivity in this community.
Whether we’re weaving together programs and resources to form a holistic network of support, or connecting our Members and Advocates together in people-centered relationships, CEF is steadily crafting a beautiful, interconnected, and interwoven community.”
Prosperity Now’s new “Financial Coaching Program Design Guide: A Participant-Centered Approach” is hot off the press! It’s an incredible guide for organizations interested in creating or refining a financial coaching program and it features great work and wisdom from CEF and other partners across the US! We loved working with the Prosperity Now team to bounce thoughts about what makes a good person-centered financial coaching program, and we learned a ton from fellow advisors as well!
Check out some samples below from CEF’s featured work!
“Nothing we’re doing in Durham right now is more important than this.”
– Steve Schewel, Mayor of City of Durham, NC Government
These were the closing words at the third annual Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable, which took place on Monday at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church. The Roundtable is an annual event dedicated to engaging private housing providers towards the goal of ending homelessness by creating access to affordable housing. Over 115 property owners and managers, tenants, community organizations, and housing advocates came together to share experiences, brainstorm solutions, and explore the opportunities and complexities of Durham’s private rental market.
We are so grateful and thankful for the host of collaborators who volunteered their time at the 2018 Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable! A special shoutout to the 13 table facilitators, Alliance Behavioral Healthcare for providing refreshments, childcare and photography volunteers, hands-on support from Housing for New Hope staff, and Trinity Ave Presbyterian Church for hosting the event. A huge shoutout to all of our speakers who opened up the conversation, including Mayor Steve Schewel, Anthony Scott and Denita Johnson ( Durham Housing Authority ), Terry Allebaugh ( North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness), Ryan Fehrman ( Families Moving Forward). Big ups also to Megan Noor and Gino Nuzzolillo for their phenomenal event coordination!
The Roundtable took place as part of the Unlocking Doors Initiative, a community collaborative coordinated by CEF. To learn more about this Initiative:
We are launching a new one-year fellowship program focused on local housing access and advocacy! Beginning in July 2018, two Housing Justice Fellows (each with four years of Advocate and volunteer leadership experience at CEF) will begin working in our offices to launch new initiatives that directly meet the felt needs and opportunities in our Durham and Orange County communities.
What is the vision for each Housing Justice Fellow?
to develop CEF Members’ capabilities to lead in local affordable housing and anti-poverty advocacy
- Supporting Member engagement in policy-making and advocacy to build political power in decision-making
- Deepening relationships with local advocacy partners
- Developing creative pathways for Member ownership and leadership within CEF
- Cultivating leadership within CEF to sustain this work for coming years
This fellowship will drive participation of Members in local policy and systems leadership, whose personal stories and wisdom have a transformative impact on policy-making and political dialogue.
In Chapel Hill
to develop and pilot an initiative with partners to collaboratively increase housing opportunities
- Recruiting and growing relationships with landlord partners
- Working together with Members, Advocates, and collaborative programs to successfully secure stable housing for Members
- Engaging in housing advocacy & Member organizing initiatives in Orange County
- Crafting infrastructure and securing support to sustain this work for coming years
This fellowship will act as a force multiplier, collaborating with staff from 5+ housing programs across Orange County to jointly support sustained landlord relationships and successfully house program participants.
Who are the inaugural Housing Justice Fellows?
The two Fellowship positions have been crafted both with the felt needs of our two communities at heart, and the distinct gifts of two of our graduating Advocates in mind. Liz Brown and Leah Whitehead both have four years of experience as volunteer leaders with CEF, and will be able to hit the ground running on these catalytic initiatives.
Why Housing Justice?
Housing is one of the most complex pieces of the puzzle in the array of services that CEF helps Members to navigate. Rental housing costs have risen dramatically in Orange and Durham Counties over recent years, causing large-scale displacement of lower-income households and increased challenges in housing placement for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. In Orange County, 90% of renter households who earn less than $35,000 are cost-burdened, ie. spending an unaffordable proportion (more than 30%) of their income on housing. In Durham, for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, only 38 rental units are affordable to them. We know that systemic change is necessary and that we must take a long-view approach to opening up opportunities for CEF Members.
CEF has been an active leader in local systems advocacy and service coordination to address the mounting housing crisis, including everything from pursuing cultural organizing through our locally-famous Advocacy Choir, to anchoring a public-private city-wide initiative to increase housing opportunities for voucher-holders. CEF is strategically situated to effect community-level change alongside our direct efforts for change with individual Members. We have collaboratively built momentum and partnerships in affordable housing advocacy over recent years, and have an opportunity to lean into deeper, impactful responses to community needs through the work of these two Fellows.
Through CEF’s Orange Community Hub, CEF Members can work on a multitude of issues at the same time by walking into a single space! With amazing partnerships with Legal Aid and other affordable community lawyers, we offer an accessible clinic where Members can address legal barriers to employment and housing, such as expunging a misdemeanor from one’s criminal record or fighting an unlawful eviction.
Congratulations to Donna Carrington, CEF’s Housing Stabilization Specialist for winning the Humanitarian Service Award from Duke Chapel!
“As a change agent and a dedicated champion, Donna has worked tirelessly with Members to navigate crises, access resources, budget, repair credit, save money and build stability. She brings her full self with authenticity and courage, often drawing from the depths of her own experiences to offer support to others as they walk their own paths!”
Read more about the award and the amazing work that Donna does here: https://today.duke.edu/2017/10/duke-chapel-service-award-goes-2-durham-community-leaders
CEF Members reached an exciting milestone earlier this month, saving a combined total of over $800,000! CEF’s Safe Savings Accounts started in 2010 (origin story in our TED Talk), and today Members save for an amazing range of goals, including housing deposits to move out of homelessness, emergency funds to sustain housing, and even to purchase their own homes!