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Planning a Visit to Your Member of Congress

Preparing for the Visit

  • When making appointments to visit your Congressional delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate be persistent—you may need to make a number of calls to arrange the meeting.
  • Make clear which issues you want to discuss (no more than three). See NALHFA’s Legislative Priorities for 2012. Choose issues that relate to your agencies’ concerns and your member's committee assignments.
  • Gather information. Learn about your members' record and their issues of interest. For help locating information on congressional voting records, contact NALHFA.
  • Prepare materials to leave with the legislator or staff, e.g., copies of relevant fact sheets and a memorandum summarizing your main concerns. NALHFA can provide some legislative talking points for your visits. Remember, it is important to share the impact on their state or district so make sure to bring along materials tailored to your area to add greater emphasis on your concerns and local affordable housing stories.
  • Agree on which specific talking points and lobbying goals you will address and designate a lead spokesperson for the meeting.
  • Confirm the appointment the morning of or day before the meeting. Arrive on time.

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    During the Visit

  • Introduce yourself and start on a positive note. Clearly state the positions outlined in NALHFA's Legislative Priorities for 2012. Utilize NALHFA's advocacy materials as a guide on important topic areas within each program.
  • Explain your position with facts, but also use personal stories whenever possible. Let the member understand the state and local ramifications or benefits resulting from their actions.
  • If you do not understand something, ask for an explanation. Ask the legislator or staff to state or clarify his/her position on the issue. Keep track of the member’s concerns for follow-up.
  • Ask the member to take some specific actions such as sponsoring a bill, voting for or against a pending measure, contacting a committee chairman or ranking member to request support, or attending a ground breaking or similar event at home.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, say so, but offer to get an answer. Thank the legislator and staff as you leave.
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    After the Visit

  • Write or call members and staff to thank them for their time. Remind them of anything they may have agreed to do and send additional information.
  • Share the results of your meetings and insights you have gained about the member’s concerns with NALHFA staff and colleagues around the country.
  • Find out when the members will be in their home district hosting town hall meetings or forums and organize a group to attend.
  • Maintain communication with members and their staff through letters, calls, and visits.


  • For further information on how to get the most out of your Congressional visits, contact NALHFA at 202/367-1197 to info@nalhfa.org

     

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