NATIONAL HARBOR, MD (May 2, 2022) – Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former Trump adviser Ja'Ron Smith brought their insight and expertise on fair housing issues to Monday's Federal Legislative and Political Forum at the 2022 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings.
In the session "Building Prosperity through Fair Housing," the pair gave a behind-the-scenes take on the current political environment from their experiences in government. The session was moderated by forum chair Ennis Antoine from Atlanta, Ga., and vice chair Keith Henley from Tupelo, Miss.
"Advocacy is extremely important," said Bottoms, who served as the 60th mayor of Atlanta from 2018 to 2022. "You are on the ground, and you know what the challenges are.
"We tend to talk to and complain amongst each other, but we often don't push forward in making changes that need to be made ... Policy changes come from people saying, ‘This is what I see as an issue.'"
She went on to outline policies with the potential to expand homeownership, including alternate credit scoring methods and assistance for first-time homebuyers.
Smith, deputy assistant to the president at the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Office of American Innovation under President Trump, recounted his own struggles with affordable housing and highlighted NAR's unique position to bring all parties together to solve the issue.
"We have to be very intentional about the problems we're trying to solve," he said. "We know these issues, we know the neighborhoods, we know the people. We have to come together collectively.
"I'll tell you what, [NAR] is one of the strongest advocacy organizations in the country … Work with your local mayors and encourage [them] to work with your congresspeople … to come together to solve these challenges and close the racial wealth gap. This is not a Republican issue; this is not a Democrat issue. It's an American issue."
Bottoms agreed. "I believe [we are most successful] when we look at these issues in a nonpartisan way," she added. "You remove the politics from it, and you put people first."
The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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