Within a few weeks of the pandemic’s emergence in February 2020, there was an explosion of websites designed to help businesses, communities and citizens navigate the new normal. The Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University began publishing frequent updates. NHC members themselves launched dozens of web pages to inform their constituencies on everything from disinfection of common surfaces to remote apartment management. At this time last year, hours a day could be spent sifting through a multitude of sites of helpful but often duplicative content.
We badly needed one resource that could quickly point us in the direction of the information most relevant to our needs. It didn’t exist so we decided to build it. This was made possible by NHC’s largest donors, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Quicken Loans, who reallocated event sponsorship dollars to general operating support.
Today, the COVID-19 Housing Resource Center guides hundreds of people each day to nearly 2,000 pages of information from many sources, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, National Multifamily Housing Council, National Council of State Housing Agencies, LISC, Enterprise Community Partners and NeighborWorks America to name a few. In the past year, over 160,000 users have accessed the site – from leaders of major housing organizations to families desperately seeking help paying their rent. Last month alone, more than 11,000 clicked on our Renters page, where they were easily able to find emergency rental assistance resources in their community.
In a broader sense, the website demonstrated the transformative power of collaboration. We created a Best Practices page to highlight how housing organizations across the country are responding to the pandemic. These best practice features have covered members’ work including setting up a respite site for homeless individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; launching a hotline to address renters’ concerns; leveraging local partnerships to address food insecurity, and more. If your organization is interested in being featured, you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
The site also features a wide range of self-care resources – from exercise to meditation to mental health support. We built this on the “Oxygen Mask Rule” principle. We’ve all been told countless times by airline crews to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others. NHC members are in the business of helping others, but in order to do that, we need to make sure to care for ourselves first.
Looking ahead, we will expand the website beyond COVID-19 issues, while continuing to host a consolidated space for pandemic-related resources – a National Housing Resource Center. This new site will feature information on health and housing, racial equity, and the production and preservation of affordable housing which remains one of the defining needs of our time.
NHC is where housers come to get things done, and we are proud to be successful by helping you better serve all of those who need our help.