Staff Reflections

National Conference, Local Perspective

Our Advocacy Mobilization Manager, Patience Malaba, attended the NACEDA conference this past week. Here are her reflections from the national conference and how they reflect on HDC’s work.

Last week l had the honor to spend time with fellow National Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) members who consist of state and regional associations like HDC from across the country at the NACEDA Summit in Philadelphia. I am excited to have had the opportunity to learn and connect with some of the best minds in our sector and bring that knowledge home.

We opened the summit with a stellar panel conversation on emerging leaders in our field. This new crop of leaders is eager to get things done and reciprocal mentorship between emerging leaders and the trailblazing housing legends will help us all advance our field to be able to get things done. As we think about who composes this set of emerging leaders and who gets taken under the wing of prominent leaders, both the existent and emergent set of leaders have to prioritize diversity and inclusion, not just to check the box, but as an integral strategy for creating a field that is reflective of the inclusive communities we strive to create. When I think to HDC’s work with our Racial Equity Initiative, Recruiting Diversity Task Force, and our Leadership Development Survey Course, I feel confident that HDC is on the right path of matching our work to our values. 

A focal theme was on creating healthy communities of opportunities through policy and systematic change. As the nation changes, thanks to the demographic forces; we are confronted by a host of puzzles about how the nation should adapt to the scope and scale of change in our metropolitan and suburban communities. Yet persistent segregation by race and income as underpinned by the geography of exclusion continue to be a factor to opportunity and well-being of our communities. It requires a fundamental shift in policies, process and relationships as well put by our keynote speaker Michael McAfee, President and CEO of Policy Link. I look at our county and see this play out in the “suburbanization of poverty” that defines the affordability crisis in South King County. King County has a long history of race and housing. You can follow the trail of our legalized segregation along red lines. When we talk about housing, we know there is more to do than just building a home because if we continue to build on a foundation rooted in inequities we will be on shaky ground.

My biggest take away is that in moving towards our vision of safe, healthy and affordable homes for everyone in communities of opportunity we must understand that equity must mean one’s life outcomes cannot be predicted by race. This requires that beyond giving service to communities, our work must demand systematic change in our land use, planning, zoning and anti-displacement strategies to undo the legacy of housing segregation. Underlying it all is the fact that we need a strong sector that can create more housing options to create strong communities. The way to a strong sector, strong communities, and strong solutions is by actively pursuing internal and governmental strategies rooted in the idea that when we say “inclusive” and “diverse” we mean it.


Written by:Patience Malaba. Edited by: Leah Haberman