Aug 7, 2019

Board Member Spotlight: Tom Streitz

Tell us about your background and why you care about expanding housing opportunities.

I’m a lawyer with over 30 years’ experience working in the areas of civil rights, affordable housing, tenants’ rights, and criminal justice reform. My legal career began in the Unites Sates Senate as Legal Counsel to the Senate. This was a unique and dramatic foray into the halls of power and legislative making at the highest levels of government.  I simultaneously earned my Masters of Law and Letters from Georgetown University Law School during my tenure at the Senate. All these work experiences and educational attainments allowed me to pursue some groundbreaking civil rights lawsuits around housing discrimination that resulted in the landmark Hollman V. Cisneros consent decree being entered here in Minneapolis. To me, housing is a fundamental building block of healthy families. I have been able to use my skills to promote this belief and passion at multiple levels of government and society.

Why were you interested in serving on the Family Housing Fund board?

Family Housing Fund provides a unique forum in the state to address systemic impediments to affordable housing development. FHFund is a place where we examine complex housing issues in depth to provide solutions and answers to developers, municipalities, and states.

What housing aspirations do you have for the region?

As we continue to grow, we need to be mindful of the forces that have occurred in similar cities that have produced displacement and enormous discrepancies in rent affordability and wages. We must work with intention to avoid these from taking hold in our communities. Working with multiple partners, my vision is that we build a healthy mix of urban and suburban neighborhoods that provide a balance of housing choices and affordability where all families may thrive.

What is one area where you think people generally fail to think big enough – and what is your vision for change?

We need to see affordable housing as fundamental infrastructure just like roads and bridges. Without continual investment into it, we are producing imbalances that threaten family success, educational attainment, and employer access to labor. We always land on the notion that there is not enough money to accomplish big goals. I believe there is plenty of money available. Rather, there is a shortage of imagination on how to secure this money and invest it to create the change we envision.

What do you do for fun?

I’m a fun and active kind of guy, so I do many activities such as tennis, kayaking, cooking, gardening, sailing, and experiencing live music. I love jazz music in particular, because  no one song is never played the same twice. Improvisation is at the heart of jazz, and there is a freedom created in that expression that we can bring into our own lives and approaches to daily challenges.

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