To raise its profile as an advocate for balanced housing policy, the National Apartment Association (NAA) hosted town hall luncheons with members of Congress, public officials, media, NAA membership, and celebrities at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver and the Republic National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul, Minn.
The bipartisan discussions, both moderated by MSNBC senior political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell Jr., hit on critical issues such as the state of the housing industry, the need for a more balanced housing policy, and workforce housing. “The American dream has become the American nightmare,” said Douglas Culkin, president of the NAA. “We need a balanced housing policy.”
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) spoke at the DNC luncheon, while former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) presented during the RNC luncheon.
To bring “star power” to the events, the NAA collaborated with The Creative Coalition, the entertainment industry's nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political organization.
Susan Sarandon was active at the DNC luncheon, challenging lawmakers to step up to the plate and make changes to the housing policy. At the RNC event, actor Giancarlo Esposito spoke about growing up in an affordable rental community in New York City after arriving via Ellis Island. Other notables included The Creative Coalition Co-Presidents Tim Daly and Tony Goldwyn, Ellen Burstyn, Rachel Leigh Cook, Dana Delaney, Anne Hathaway, Spike Lee, and Josh Lucas.