According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is considered affordable when a person pays no more than 30 percent of income toward housing costs, including utilities. When people pay more than 30 percent of income toward housing costs, they are considered “housing cost burdened,” and when they pay more than 50 percent, they are considered severely housing cost burdened.
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Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Affordable Housing (~40 min)
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- To what extent are you and your family experiencing changes in housing costs and affordability?
- What changes related to housing costs do you see in your community?
- To what extent is housing affordability affecting your thinking or experience of the American Dream?
- What percentage of your income does your housing cost? What is the impact on your life?
- How is housing affordability affecting your vision for your own future – or the future of your community as you know it?
- What would you like to see happen in your community or the country to begin addressing housing affordability?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?