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Can Jewel change the public perception of public housing?

Can Jewel change the public perception of public housing?

Celebrity Jewel explains and talking, about her experience in public housing and the affordable housing industry.

  • Posted on: 10 May 2014

Can Jewel change the public perception of public housing?

Some of you may have seen this recent interview with singer-songwriter Jewel, where she explains why she is one of the faces of the Rethink Housing organization (go to 2:30 in the video to skip to her discussion of public housing).

To those of us in the affordable housing industry—developers, builders, architects, government partners, investors, lenders, lawyers—we know why the availability of government-subsidized housing is so important to building safe and strong communities. And we already know that public housing isn’t free; it provides necessary support to help struggling single moms and disabled veterans, among other disadvantaged members of our society. We don’t need to hear a celebrity explain this to us or review a website with facts and statistics about the benefits stable housing provides children and families. So, some of us may wonder: what good will it do to have a “celebrity” like Jewel commercializing this effort?

Remember, many of us know all of this because we live and work in the affordable housing industry every day—but even some of the most progressive people in the United States still look down on and judge harshly people who are living in government-subsidized housing. There’s still a significant stigma attached to public housing and Section 8, and removing that stigma is no easy task—but it is fundamental to changing the way our society as a whole treats its most disadvantaged members.

So, how do we change that? There is so much “noise” in the social media marketplace—sometimes it’s hard to hear yourself think with all the tweeting and Facebook posting, particularly around social causes. And that’s the reason celebrities are enlisted to stand behind organizations and causes—it makes people pay attention. Right or wrong—it seems to work. People are simply more inclined to click on an interview with Jewel talking about her experience in public housing than they would be with someone who isn’t famous. And if people stop and really listen to what Jewel has to say, there’s a chance that their views may start to change. And if their views start to change, that might make our jobs and missions a lot easier.

So, let’s spread Jewel’s message around—it’s a good one.

SOURCE: By Lila Shapiro-Cyr on May 1, 2014 Posted in Government-Assisted Housing, Policy, Public Housing
Tags: advocacy, homelessness, Jewel, Rethink Housing