Several new advocacy groups have sprung up to push for better housing policies at the state and national level. Their first job: Communicating how significant the problem really is.
The advertising executive Michael Franzini, founder of the nonprofit ad agency Public Interest, has created campaigns to fight AIDS, spur Holocaust awareness, and advocate for STEM education. The cause driving his latest campaign is a tricky one: He wants to bring housing policy—a topic that is now largely the purview of wonks, developers, big city activists, and a select few politicians—into the forefront of our national discourse.
“In the same way that Al Gore put climate change on the map, that’s what we’re hoping to do,” Franzini said. “We want everyone to start demanding change.”
To pull that off, Franzini and Public Interest developed a campaign called Home1, which so far consists of a series of slick explainer-style public service announcements detailing the roots of the current affordable housing crisis. Soon to come: a feature-length documentary that he hopes could be affordable housing’s Inconvenient Truth.
“There is no greater crisis that, at least in my lifetime, has ever faced our country and not been talked about,” Franzini said. “And the reasons for that are all about how it is communicated… As soon as you start talking about the nuts and bolts of it, people glaze over.”