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Loyola Bateman team spotlights affordable housing issues in 'Geaux Home' campaign

Loyola press release - March 20, 2015

A group of five Loyola University New Orleans mass communication students recently organized a series of events to spotlight the link between affordable housing and social issues critical to a healthy community as part of a public relations campaign competition class. "Geaux Home," a campaign put together by Loyola students Katie Collier, Chelsea Cunningham, Kenny Motley, Martin Quintero and NiRey Reynolds, under the direction of Professor Cathy Rogers, Ph.D., was part of the Public Relations Student Society of America's national Bateman case study competition, designed to give students an opportunity to apply classroom education and experiences to public relations campaigns. Loyola has placed in the top three of the Bateman competition in 13 of the past 14 years and has won more than any other university in the country. The top three finalists will be announced on Monday, April 13. The final results will be announced in May.

The "Geaux Home" campaign was held on Feb. 24, which was proclaimed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to be "Home Matters Day," to highlight how important home is to success in public education, safety, health and other issues critical to strong communities. The event included a one-hour public educational panel, followed by "Geaux Sleepover," an outdoor sleepover for students in the Loyola Peace Quad—complete with pillow fights and campfire treats.

Katie Collier, one of the students involved in the campaign, said her group's mission was to redefine the meaning of a home and to show students and community members the importance of community.

"The purpose of 'Geaux Sleepover' was to simulate an experience where students realize that home is not just the four walls that surround them, but their community, their friends, their education and their health," Collier said.

"It is a test of if I'm strong enough to do this when I can walk a few blocks to a warm bed," said Quintero, as temperatures dipped into the low 50s overnight. "They experienced what many New Orleanians have to deal with every day."

Collier added that the event also challenges the traditional homeowner concept.

"The American dream is what you want it to be," Collier said. "It can be renting a house for your whole life because that's what makes sense to you. It could be traveling the world and not living in a home because that's what your passion is. It could be designing the dream house you have always wanted after you get your dream job."

According to the website www.homemattersamerica.com, the U.S. is in a housing crisis, with more than half a million people in the United States without a home. A quarter of those individuals are children.

The team reports that housing is a problem in New Orleans because citizens are spending more than 35 percent of their income on housing, whereas the Federal Housing Administration believes less than 29 percent of one’s gross income should be used for income on rent or housing payments. Home Matters Day showcases "Geaux Home’s" petition requesting that the city place greater priority on allocating adequate resources to ensure proper Code Enforcement of rental property in New Orleans as well as more frequent and proper maintenance code inspections on rental properties throughout the city. More than half of New Orleanians rent rather than own their homes, compared to a national average of 33.9 percent.