Journal of Housing & Community Development

Bringing Equity and Inclusion into the Heart of NAHRO: the LGBTQ+ Subcommittee

December 21, 2022
by Jake Joseph

Since its reformation in 2017, NAHRO’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DEIAC) has both led the way in advancing these vital issues in the association and has served as a welcoming umbrella group for those who are interested in discussing and advancing these issues. Under the leadership of chair Elizabeth Glenn, DEIAC and its subcommittees have provided NAHRO members with brave spaces in which to learn about and discuss DEI issues (including monthly webinars and in-person sessions at NAHRO conferences) and built a DEI policy framework that helps guide the association’s work. The advisory committee is also working to ensure that historically underrepresented groups at NAHRO are given a voice and a safe space. Part of that work takes the form of our newly created LGBTQ+ subcommittee.

As housing professionals and volunteer commissioners, part of our work is to  literally create safe and welcoming places of home for all people. We know that LGBTQ+ people have long been excluded from safe places of home and have statistically more risk of falling into homelessness and poverty than other populations. We also know that they the LGBTQ+ population has faced hate and discrimination in both communities and places of work. And so we must work to create safe and welcoming spaces in our professional lives, as well.

In my experience, NAHRO is a place of innovation and inclusion at the heart of its mission. NAHRO has a long history as a leader in housing accessibility, community building, and innovation, and it is time for us to have an intentional LGBTQ subcommittee. In 2022, millennials of my generation and the professionals coming after us in Generation Z expect their associations, professional organizations, and employers to be clear and explicit about values and missional alignment. We reasonably expect to find representation in the workplace. As the workplace expects us to share and exert the best of our time, brains, and energy, it is only fair that we can be authentic in the space where such things are asked of us. As is the conversation across NAHRO, the affordable housing and PHA industry, and our partners, retaining and attracting top young talent to help us stay vibrant and creative is task number one right now. Having an LGBTQ Subcommittee with a focus on creating community and mentoring opportunities at NAHRO is part of that mission of ensuring a vibrant PHA workforce.

NAHRO is a large tent, with ample room to have these conversations and to create this community space within the housing world. Moreover, the DEI Framework approved by the Board of Governors demands that all historically disenfranchised and/ or targeted groups receive greater access to resources and success. This is but one of the strategies to help us work towards fulfilling the mandate of the framework, and I look forward to continuing this vital process.

One of the proudest moments of my life was being deemed worthy by my own community, even at 26 years old at the time, of being granted the name Commissioner. It was also an honor to be elected as Board Chair at 30 years old. Now, in a new community thousands of miles away, I have been appointed to another PHA board. I can still say that being a housing authority commissioner is truly a vocation as a volunteer. I have always been an out and proud LGBTQ Community member and Housing Authority Commissioner. I believe, with the right support, there is so much more that my LGBTQ community can do for NAHRO and for housing. Hopefully this subcommittee can help bring us all closer together.

About the author:

The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph (he/his), Chair of the LGBTQ Subcommittee of NAHRO’s DEI Advisory Committee, ADL Associate Regional Director, Connecticut Region Commissioner, Milford Redevelopment and Housing Partnership

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