Arvada Chamber Launches Business Housing Advocates Program

April 23, 2024

By Tess McShane, Director of Housing & Childcare

The Arvada Chamber’s B.O.L.D. 2026 Initiative seeks to engage business leaders, community leaders, and collaborative partners in opportunities to convene and catalyze innovative solutions and strategies for complex problems. The B.O.L.D. 2026 Housing Initiative seeks to engage business and community leaders in awareness and advocacy efforts to increase access to housing for the region’s workforce. The lack of accessible and affordable housing for the workforce results in a smaller talent pool, difficulty with talent recruitment and retention, and economic instability due to effects from workforce challenges. A key element of this initiative includes advocacy and as a result, the Arvada Chamber launched the Business Housing Advocate Program for business leaders experiencing the impact of housing access on their workforce, recruitment and retention strategies, and economic success. 

The recent Business Housing Advocates kick-off training convened several business leaders from Arvada to learn about advocacy and how to testify to support income-aligned housing access for the workforce. Attendees heard from presenters, Ben Taylor, Lincoln Avenue Communities, and Brian Rossbert, Housing Colorado, to learn about opportunities for housing advocacy at the local, regional, and state level, importance of business voices in advocacy, and the process for testifying. 

Ben Taylor presented on the current Marshall Pointe Apartments project, which will provide 260 units for low and middle-income individuals and families. Ben shared how he engaged the Arvada Chamber and business leader community in advocacy efforts, including City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, neighborhood meetings, and letters of support. Ben shared the importance of business leaders “just showing up” in housing advocacy, and the value of their voice.

“Cities and city councils respond tremendously to business input. They know that is the lifeblood of the economy.”

– Ben Taylor

Brian Rossbert presented on advocacy and the importance of testimony to support housing attainability. He shared data on the housing cost burden for the region, and that individuals and families across Colorado are cost burdened by housing despite their income level. Brian also shared the storytelling art of testifying at the local, regional, and state levels. Testifying can be intimidating, and often advocates only have 2-3 minutes to share an impactful story. He shared on how to utilize a narrative to share the story of self, story of us, and story of now around testifying and housing advocacy to help share an impact story and influence decision-making. 

Key elements of testifying reviewed in the training include: 

  • Sign up in advance: When testifying at the local or state level, it is important to sign up in advance to reserve a spot and have your time to provide testimony. 
  • Practice, practice, practice: It is always good to practice your testimony, and you are able to have notes or a script when speaking. 
  • Be aware of your time limit: There is often a time limit of 2-3 minutes to provide testimony, so it is important to know how long you have and to stick to that time. 
  • Address the chair and members of the committee: Always start your testimony with addressing your audience and thanking them for their time. 
  • State your position and use the story of self, us, and now: Remember your narrative to share your story, identify common values with your audience, and state the importance or urgency of your position. 

“I think when we talk about a story and when people are speaking from their heart, legislators really do listen and you can influence their decisions and their votes.”

– Cassie Ratliff, Family Tree

Business leaders have the opportunity to become Business Housing Advocates to help support the B.O.L.D. 2026 Housing Initiative and provide advocacy support and testimony for housing initiatives and projects at the local, regional and state level. Through this training, business leaders explored some of the benefits of being a Business Housing Advocate, including: 

  • An opportunity to provide testimony and advocacy to housing initiatives and projects that benefits the workforce and the community 
  • Business voices are often missing from housing advocacy and can provide a key voice to advance these efforts
  • Business leaders are able to utilize advocacy to help “move the needle” on increasing access to and stock of income-aligned housing for our workforce

This program is a great opportunity for business leaders to engage and support increased access to housing for the workforce and reduce the housing burden in our region. The Arvada Chamber seeks to host future training and convening opportunities.

If you are interested in participating as a Business Housing Advocate in the future, you can contact tess@arvadachamber.org. There is also an opportunity to sign up as a B.O.L.D. Housing Champion to support the efforts of the Arvada Chamber’s Housing Initiative and learn about programs, events, and opportunities to engage in this work.

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