Homes over Houses Social Media Campaign

Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera.

Campaign overview

The problem

According to the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development, "over 8,300 people are homeless in DC," and "one in five DC households pay more than half their income in rent." According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, "the number of apartments with rents less than $800 per month — a number that represents 40 percent of monthly income for a family of four living at the poverty line — decreased by 42 percent between 2002 and 2013."

Photo courtesy of Apartment List

Rising housing rates are displacing Washington DC's citizens. As neighborhoods become more "trendy," those who call them home are forced out. The disparity is especially reprehensible considering this city's professed priorities: preservation and governance. How can DC, the city that prides itself on public history sites with its monuments, memorials, and museums, overlook those who shaped it into what it is? And while young professionals come to the district to involve themselves in politics on the national level, how can they forget about the political implications of the gentrification they bring to local DC communities?

The Solution: Homes over Houses

Beyond the rising housing rates in DC is a more alarming problem; people are not just losing the ability to live in their houses and apartments, they are losing their homes. The #HomesOverHouses campaign will remind its audience to act responsibly when choosing where to live and consider the implications of their choices further than their aesthetic and trend-following desires.

Campaign Target Audience

The campaign's target audience is DC residents, specifically young professionals who could be considered "hipsters", those most likely to be new homeowners in gentrified areas.

Past Approaches

Past Approach: The Center for National Economic Housing and Development's Housing for All Campaign

The Housing for All campaign launched in 2010 to raise funding, in the form of investments, for affordable housing. It also demanded "common sense reforms to the rent control law in order to preserve affordable housing and protect tenants’ rights" (CNHED).

  • 4,000 supporters organized
  • Over 100 organizations mobilized
  • Creation of a $100 million baseline annual commitment
  • Over $26 million received for DC’s locally-funded voucher program

What The Campaign Did Well

  • Representation: Housing For All utilized real residents of affordable housing to show authenticity and ensure that their needs were met
  • Social Media Outreach: The hashtag, #DCisOurHome, trended on Twitter

Photo courtesy of CNHED

Past Approach: AirBnb v Berlin

An anti-AirBnb campaign in Berlin discourages the use of AirBnb because of its "touristification" and "social displacement" of local tenants. It also cites "the rising rent prices for locals" as a reason not to use the service. The campaign's shocking graphics, coupled with the easily recognizable AirBnb logo, make for an effective campaign strategy, as the banners not only caught the attention of passersby, but also of those who follow social media accounts that shared the images.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Roberts on Twitter

Outreach

Homes Over Houses will reach its audience through a new phone app, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as live events.

Smart Phone App

Small Shopper: for big impacts

Small businesses are affected by gentrification because they lose customers when their original patrons become displaced.

Concurrent with the #HomesOverHouses campaign will be the launch of a smart phone app, Small Shopper. Small Shopper will encourage people to support local businesses by allowing its users to gain "points" for each dollar they spend at local businesses around the city. The points later can be redeemed for prizes.

Social media outreach

Instagram

  1. Weekly #TBT (Throwback Thursday) that features a different area in DC pre-gentrification (examples: a picture of a building where a small business used to be, an infographic comparing the price of an apartment 10 years ago to now)
  2. Infographics posted with facts about gentrification
  3. Pictures from live events (see below)

FAcebook

  1. Sharing articles that are relevant to the issue of gentrification, especially as it pertains to DC. For example: "The gentrification of Washington DC: how my city changed its colours" by Uzodinma Iweala in The Guardian (link here)
  2. Cross promotion by sharing tweets to Facebook.
  3. Temporary Facebook profile picture filter

Sample Facebook profile picture:

Photo courtesy of Acting Biz

TWITTER

  1. Daily tweeting from the official Twitter, @HomesOverHouses
  2. Use of the hashtag #HomesOverHouses
  3. Retweeting DC residents' tweets to encourage participation

Sample Tweet:

Muriel Bowser, mayor of DC

LIVE EVENT OUTREACH

Local artists will perform at showcases in various neighborhoods. Each community will individually decide for themselves where the money raised will go.

For example, one neighborhood may allocate their funds towards the local public high school. Another might give their money to a local community center.

At the event, attendees will be encouraged to follow Homes Over Houses' social media accounts,

Photo courtesy of Time Out.

Campaign deliverables

  • Gain 150,000 followers across platforms
  • Get app users to spend a total of $20,000 as a result of the Small Shopper app
  • Host at least 10 local events around the District.

Conclusion

“IT IS A CITY FRACTURED BY ITS INFATUATION WITH OFFICIAL REMEMBRANCE (AS SEEN IN ITS MONUMENTS AND MUSEUMS), AND ITS SEEMING INDIFFERENCE TO THE PERSONAL MEMORIES OF THE PERMANENT RESIDENTS WHOSE LIVES HAVE TRULY SHAPED IT.” -UZODINMA IWEALA, THE GUARDIAN

It is my hope that the effects of gentrification can be ameliorated or even reversed, and that this city can genuinely take pride in its history once and for all.

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