Housing Leadership Lab digs deep at Strategy Workshop

Local Progress Impact Lab brings members and their community partners together for a two-day learning and agenda-setting workshop

Housing is a basic need. It is the foundation for people to build the rest of their lives. But across the country, people are feeling the crush of the rising cost of living and a lack of affordable housing. Amid this housing crisis, Local Progress Impact Lab is proud to announce the inaugural cohort of the Housing Leadership Lab. The Lab supports local electeds to advance a housing justice agenda by building their policy-making skills and housing expertise while engaging in a community of practice with fellow local electeds.

The cohort of 16 people, all new to office or interested in digging deeper in housing, span different regions and localities of all sizes. Most are new to office or new to housing work, with interests The pandemic shed a national spotlight on how precarious and vulnerable housing is for too many people that rent and sparked new waves of renters organizing together to demand protection. Recognizing this, the program centers on renters’ issues specifically to create a more focused space for local electeds to learn and advance a comprehensive agenda to support housing stability for renters across policy, program change, and budgetary investments.

In November, the Housing Leadership Lab held their in-person Strategy Workshop for the cohort in Chicago. In the spirit of collaborative governance, local electeds and their community partners from localities as varied as St. Louis, San Antonio, Gunnison County, and Culver City joined to discuss their housing challenges and strategize over how to ensure every one of their neighbors has a safe, quality, affordable home. Local Progress partners PolicyLink and Liberation in a Generation provided deep-dive learning experiences on housing finance, anti-displacement policies, action planning, and more. The Leadership Lab also included a second day with the Progressive Governance Academy to strategize on how to bring their ideas to fruition and make actionable plans.

The group also engaged in peer learning, hearing from Housing Steering Committee members’ on their achievements advancing renter protections and expand affordable housing:

  • Jamie Gauthier, Philadelphia PA shared her comprehensive anti-displacement strategies. 
  • Elissa Silverman, Washington DC discussed reforming the district’s local housing trust fund. 
  • Colby Sledge, Nashville TN highlighted successful pushes for affordable housing in a growing city. 
  • Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis MN shared his collaborative governance approach to developing renter protection policies. 


Housing Leadership Lab members also used their time in Chicago to visit the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Apartments, a development where 100% of the units are affordable housing. The development came together through collaborative governance, with Local Progress member Carlos Ramirez-Rosa working in close collaboration with housing organizers and community members to gather widespread support for the development. In addition to speaking with Carlos, Leadership Lab members heard from Palenque and United Neighbors of the 35th Ward, the community groups involved in advocating for this affordable housing development. 

After a weekend full of community building, collective learning, and strategizing with local electeds and community partners across the country, Housing Leadership Lab members are now back home, working to bring housing justice policies to their own communities.

Thank you to all the members of the Housing Leadership Lab Cohort!

  • Alisha Sonnier, School Board Member, St. Louis, MO
  • Anna Prizzia, Commissioner, Alachua County, FL
  • Azrin Awal, Councilmember, Duluth, MN
  • Brandon Jones, Mayor Pro Tem, Lewisville, TX
  • Chantel Raghu, Council Member, Oxford, OH
  • Gretchen Rydin, Mayor Pro Tem, Littleton, CO
  • Hugo Garcia, Councilmember, Burien, WA
  • Jack Porter, Commissioner, Tallahassee, FL
  • Julia Marvin, Councilmember, Thornton, CO
  • Kelly Kent, School Board Member, Culver City, CA
  • Kiani Conley-Wilson, Councilmember, Troy, NY
  • Liz Smith, Commissioner, Gunnison County, CO
  • Michalyn Easater-Thomas, Councilmember, Memphis, TN
  • Nikylan Knapper, Mayor, Maplewood, MO
  • Teri Castillo, Councilmember, San Antonio, TX
  • Tim Ragland. Mayor, Talladega, AL
  • Yasmine-Imani McMorrin, Councilmember, Culver City, CA