Defining a new “normal”

I’m hearing pining for a “return to normal.” I can understand it—the pandemic has affected us all in ways that range from inconvenient to downright devastating—but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I hope “back to normal” isn’t actually our path forward. ‘Normal’ won’t be good enough. ‘Normal’ was never good enough for so many folks in our communities, for whom the odds have been stacked against for decades, centuries.

At CommonBond, we’ve been working hard to keep the organization whole with the goal of fully supporting residents and staff through the challenges brought on by the pandemic. We know  all the folks in our orbit have been impacted differently, and the social and economic disparities that existed before the pandemic are now rapidly widening because of it.

Our founders identified that access to an affordable home is one of the greatest tools we can use in the battle against deep-rooted, systemic inequities. They saw housing as a foundational gateway to opportunity—a gateway that was effectively blocked for individuals with lower incomes. Today, that same belief still drives us. We know that the folks we serve, whose life situations mirror millions across the country, were the first and most deeply impacted by the pandemic. When we talk about economic recovery, for many that is not possible. They will be irreparably impacted by this experience.

Recently I came across this report from McKinsey titled “Achieving an inclusive US economic recovery.” Really, I’d point you to the interactive here.

When you move through it, stop on the video of Crystal Jones. She tells her story, and it’s one that is similar to many folks we know.

As a community—as a society—we have a moral obligation to create opportunity for Crystal and people who have experiences similar to hers. When we talk about stimulus checks, rent relief, eviction moratoriums; it’s because of the experience that Crystal and millions of our neighbors are having. It’s because of the experience those children sitting at her counter are having.

Our team is working diligently to support the 12,500 residents we serve through these challenging times. We’re working with partners, donors, and stakeholders to deliver the resources people need to maintain stability and to be prepared when things swing back. In the coming months we’re going to keep pushing hard to do more. I hope you join us in your own way and make sure to bring intention to how our communities emerge from the deep challenges of this past year.

The inequities that persist, and are now exacerbated, require us to resist a return to normal. Crystal’s experience unfortunately is normal. I think what we have is an opportunity to change that—to define a new normal where the experience Crystal’s children have, and that their children have, includes access to stability and opportunities that allow them to move past surviving and into thriving.

Derek Madsen is Executive Vice President of Resource Development and Strategic Initiatives at CommonBond Communities


Our Impact

Every day, our supporters, volunteers, staff, and community members make our work possible. Below you can view our latest annual report with resident testimonials, stories of impact, program statistics, and financial information.