BY TAYLOR BENNETT, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
The WV Community Development Hub is a member of the Abandoned Properties Coalition (APC), the only formally organized statewide coalition working to change the systems that create cycles of building abandonment and blight in West Virginia communities.
For groups like the APC, pursuing policy objectives during the changing climate of an election year can feel uncertain, especially since it can be hard to predict who will be at the Capitol once West Virginia’s annual legislative session begins in 2021.
One way that the APC and other organizations create stability for their policy work is to use member input to clearly define which policy issues are of most importance. This set of definitions is what’s called a “policy platform,” a term that community members across the state have likely heard candidates and interest groups discuss.
If you have an interest in lending your voice to the creation of the APC’s policy platform this year, fill out this survey to share your thoughts and opinions:
The best policy platforms are built on the felt needs and bright ideas of individuals who face the challenges that the platform is meant to address. In West Virginia, when we’re talking about dilapidation, abandonment, and blight, that means all of us. This year, the APC needs your input on what policy actions they should be taking to address problem properties as they design their policy platform.
In general, a policy platform includes:
- A list of the issues that are central to the mission of the group. For the APC, this list includes the most pressing concerns related to vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated properties.
- A set of actions or strategies that the group will use to move their policy goals forward. Sometimes these strategies are implied, rather than expressed directly. For example, if specific bills or acts were listed, one can assume that the group will be pursuing the introduction of these bills at the appropriate legislative level.
- Other items that are important to understanding how the entities work. Policy platforms may also include other information about how a group does their policy work, what their long term goals are, or how they developed their policy objectives.
Policy platforms are very useful to individuals who are trying to learn what’s most important to an interest group. They are important to the success of coalitions like the APC because they:
- Outline a process through which the APC can receive community member feedback and make sure that their policy objectives align with the needs that communities feel.
- Provide a record of the issues that are important to the Coalition.
- Create a foundation for any policy actions that the APC might propose.
All of these factors combine to create a greater degree of consistency in the trajectory of the goals and work of the APC. So, even when it may not be clear now exactly who will be serving at the Capitol after November, APC members and community members can be sure of what the APC will be focusing on.
And, you can be even more certain that the challenges you see related to abandoned and dilapidated properties are represented by contributing to The APC policy platform.