One of the ways Fahe supports its Membership Network is by hosting quarterly caucus meetings in each state. These meetings are made up of representatives from each of the Members in their respective state, representatives from Fahe, and quite often outside organizations that represent a service or government organization that is of great interest to all those involved. Attendance of these caucus meetings provides detailed information on current trends in affordable housing, information about new products and services, and changes in government policies. Attendance also builds camaraderie among the Members.
So why is this collaboration so important? One of the main reasons is that while each of these nonprofits are separate entities, they are all working towards a common goal and by collaborating they help to build up and supplement each other’s knowledge base. Some organizations manage to build homes and provide counseling for families with only a handful of people. In these situations of limited resources, creative solutions crop up that would have been overlooked by better-funded agencies. These solutions can be an effective time and money saver allowing resources to be better allocated. With older or higher capacity groups, the experience of dealing with the requirements of certain funding or projects can be shared to make sure the correct steps are taken the first time by the those freshly approaching them.
The caucus meetings also serve as a way for the Members to receive news updates involving policy changes in Washington D.C. and state government. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, a collective voice can be raised to make a real change such as when the 502 Direct Loan funds were in danger of having a reduction of 66%. Because of their shared connections 16 members were able to gather data and prepare stories about the importance of the 502 Direct Loans in their communities. Fahe was also able to partner with other groups across the nation including Self-Help Enterprises, the National Rural Housing Coalition, the Housing Assistance Council, and Rural LISC. These Members testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee and ultimately were able to reduce the cuts to the program allowing it to continue.
The caucus meetings are only one of the services Fahe provide to the Members but many feel it is one of the most important. The meetings have helped each of our Members learn and grow in ways that would otherwise be unavailable. This type of collaboration helps to ensure that these nonprofits can strive, evolve, and survive in an industry that relies on a sometimes-wavering source of funding. And their continued success equals better homes and communities for Appalachia.