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"You Don't Have to Live Here:" Why Housing Messages Are Backfiring and 10 Things We Can Do About It "

Background

The following is from: The FrameWorks Institute

If there's anything that's clear at this moment in US history, it's that having a policy window doesn't guarantee policy change.

Take the issue of housing. Advocates have been able to ride a growing tide of public anxiety about housing costs to bring the issue to the attention of policymakers at the city, state, and federal levels. Yet a new analysis, conducted by the FrameWorks Institute with Enterprise Community Partners, suggests that even at the local level this momentum could stall, or face a serious setback, unless advocates reconsider current messaging.

"You Don't Have to Live Here:" Why Housing Messages Are Backfiring and 10 Things We Can Do About It teases out the implications of in-depth insights into how the public thinks about affordable housing, particularly in relation to issues such as economic mobility and racial equity. The main recommendation: To understand how to connect housing issues to the concerns of the public in new ways, advocates must first understand why current messages are failing and backfiring. The analysis found several "backfires" that are blocking progress:

  • Americans hold a shared belief in Self-Makingness--- the idea that personal decisions are the primary reason for individuals' success or failure in securing affordable housing. This explains why even the most compelling stories about people facing housing challenges tend to backfire.
  • Because many Americans believe that policy doesn't play a role in racial disparities, messaging about race can lead people to a Not-In-My-Backyard response to some affordable housing initiatives.
  • The latest data, on their own, aren't enough to change the conversation. Because of confirmation bias, there's always a risk of the Facts Don't Fit the Frame backfire.

On this issue and others, there is much work to be done to move the public toward widespread support for progressive policies. In the months ahead, FrameWorks will delve deeper into the communications aspects of affordable housing, using an innovative mix of social science methods to arrive at an evidence-based framing strategy. In the meantime, "You Don't Have to Live Here" offers insights that advocates can apply now.

 


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