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Your Candidate Conversation Guide

Julia Hobart
Posted by Julia Hobart on 10:32 AM on September 5, 2020

At Twin Cities Habitat, we believe elections are an important way for individuals and communities to make their voices heard. That’s why we are excited to engage our Housing Heroes in the 2020 Elections. Of course, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so all our election engagement will be strictly non-partisan.

2020 is a big election year. The U.S. President, House of Representatives, and some Senators are up for re-election. So are all Minnesota State Senators and Representatives. Whomever is elected on November 3 will make key decisions as our communities begin to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Moreover, elected officials have the power to create change through policy. It was elected leaders who upheld discriminatory housing policies for decades, both in Minnesota and nationally. You can learn more about this history and how today’s elected leaders can challenge these disparities by reading our Race & Housing series: tchabitat.org/race.

Simply put, elections matter, this election matters, and your voice matters.

Vote for Home

That’s why we’ve created a Candidate Conversation Guide—to give you talking points and tools for using your voice to engage with candidates.

Download your free Candidate Conversation Guide now >

Let candidates know what you value. As candidates campaign for office, they will keep an ear out for the issues that are important to voters – who have the power to decide whether or not they get elected. When you talk about an issue that matters to you, candidates may begin to prioritize that issue themselves and elevate it on the campaign trail, or later on, in office. The more we can all speak about the issue of homeownership and housing, the greater the chance that it will become a talking point and issue of focus for candidates.

It’s also important to know where candidates stand. Amidst all the rhetoric of campaigns and elections, it can be difficult to parse out what candidates actually believe or value. This guide is meant to be a tool for you to gauge whether a candidate is a champion for homeownership or housing. But don’t stop with the guide – if there are other questions or talking points that come to mind, use them. The candidate is campaigning for your vote, so you get to set the tone and decide what is a priority.

Vote for home preview image. Text reads: Get Ready to Vote for Home! Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, but you can vote well in advance. September 18 You can request your absentee ballot or start voting Early In-Person (through Nov. 2). September 22 National Voter Registration Day! In Minnesota, you can register online. October 27 If you’re voting absentee, we recommend you mail in your absentee ballot by this date at the latest. November 3 (ELECTION DAY) Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can register at the polls if you haven’t already. If mailing in your absentee ballot, it needs to be postmarked on or before this date. Visit mnvotes.org to preview your ballot. Then, do research to see which candidates you want to vote for. You can vote safely during the pandemic. Learn more at tchabitat.org/elections. Join us! Sign up to receive Action Alerts and stay involved in our advocacy work at tchabitat.org/advocacy Candidate Conversation Guide preview. Text reads: Candidate Conversation Guide This guide will help you engage meaningfully with candidates –in-person or online. Ask candidates the questions highlighted in blue, and follow up with the talking points below as needed. How will you promote affordable homeownership? Homeownership is key. It’s the main way most families build wealth and become financially resilient. Safe and stable housing means children excel in school, workers earn, seniors thrive, and communities prosper. What policies or strategies would you support to expand the production and supply of affordable housing? The need for housing is significant and growing. More than 1 in 4 households in Minnesota pays more than they can afford on housing. To meet demand, we need 10,000 new units of affordable housing each year. What will you do to address racial disparities in homeownership? How will you protect seniors, low-income households, and households of color? There are grave inequities in homeownership. The transformational benefits of ownership are not accessible to everyone. In Minnesota, 77% of White households own a home, compared to only 24% of Black households. Additionally, households of color and senior households are more likely to be cost-burdened than other households. Given COVID-19’s economic impact, how will you protect homeowners unable to make housing payments, and prevent a wave of foreclosures? The workers most impacted by COVID-19, including retail and food service workers, teachers, and in-home healthcare professionals, are at risk for losing their housing. Homeowners who fall behind in their mortgage payments will be at risk for foreclosure without policy protections.

How to Use this Tool

In previous years, we’ve created a “reverse door-knocker” to use when a candidate is canvassing and knocks on your door. Due to COVID-19, campaigns may not rely as heavily on direct door-to-door canvassing this year. Instead, you can use the Conversation Guide to ask a question at a virtual townhall, in a phone call with a candidate, or for talking points in an email to their campaign. Download it onto your desktop, print it off and keep it near the phone, or hang it on your fridge. We hope it will be helpful for you.

Personally, I would have used this in the recent primary election. I live in Ward 6 of Minneapolis, which had a special election for the City Council. In the days leading up to August 11, I received several phone calls directly from candidates. At the time, we had not yet finalized the talking points and questions for the guide. So, I improvised and asked them questions about how they would work to address the racial equity gap in homeownership and other issues that matter to me. Next time I hear directly from a candidate, I’ll definitely use this guide as a reference.

And we want to hear from you! As you connect with candidates on the campaign trail, let us know if you’re using the Candidate Conversation Guide. What’s working? What isn’t working? Where could you use more support, and what questions do you have? Team Advocacy is publishing an FAQ blog mid-September, so send us your questions now!

Download Your Candidate Conversation Guide

Tags: Advocacy, 2020

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