LANSING, Mich., April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Living in Michigan Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 20 statewide housing and community development organizations, kicked off a summer-long initiative this week called Legislators Building Communities (LBC). This ambitious effort is being led by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), Habitat for Humanity of Michigan (HFHM), and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). The LBC initiative will mobilize and engage legislators, state officials and volunteers in hundreds of affordable housing and community development projects throughout Michigan.
The LBC's goal is to enlist each Michigan legislator in a hands-on community service project in their home district this summer. The projects are diverse and will include homebuilding and renovation, deconstruction, painting, homeless counts, neighborhood clean-ups, community garden work and more. Legislators are being asked to contribute a minimum of four hours in or near their home district.
Legislative Co-Chairs Sen. Mark Jansen (Grand Rapids), Sen. Rebekah Warren (Ann Arbor), Rep. Lisa Howze (Detroit), and Rep. Wayne Schmidt (Traverse City) will lead their colleagues in this effort.
LBC "sends a signal to the rest of the legislature that taking care of people, making sure they have a roof over their head and the services they need to stay housed, is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, it's not a conservative or a liberal issue, it's something we all need to get behind and work together on," says Rep. Rebekah Warren.
The 2011 LBC initiative is inspired by the success of the Michigan Legislative Build, a similar event which was led by Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and CEDAM in 2008. The 2008 Legislative Build resulted in 112 of Michigan's 148 state legislators participating in 59 hands-on projects.
In describing his own family's experience with Habitat projects, Rep. Schmidt stated, "Once we had those homes in place, we began building the neighborhood. We started a neighborhood association, we started a lighting project, (and) we bought a pocket park nearby that was vacant city land."
The LBC campaign will help educate legislators about the needs in their districts and will allow volunteers the opportunity to build relationships with their elected officials. Advocates point out that many of Michigan's legislators are in their first term, and come from diverse professional backgrounds. LBC will help expose them to the needs in their districts and the work being done by local organizations. Additionally, LBC hopes to increase public awareness of housing and community development issues.
The LBC campaign will conclude in September, 2011, with a closing celebration that shares the successes of the LBC initiative and the statewide impact of legislator participation.
The Living in Michigan Coalition brings together over 30 statewide and regional organizations, including the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), to promote quality affordable housing and strong community development throughout the state. Living in Michigan strives to educate policy-makers and the public on the importance of investing in our communities. The coalition is led jointly by CEDAM and Habitat for Humanity of Michigan.