Advocates are proving why home is so much more than a place to store your belongings.
Home Matters, a campaign supporting affordable housing initiatives nationwide, is using the month of February to highlight the importance of having a safe and comfortable place to call home. The group points out that there are proven connections between an individual's home and their potential to access quality education, benefit from dependable public safety and receive proper healthcare.
"Home is where the heart is," the video reads. "In fact, home is where it all starts."
According to the campaign, there's a housing crisis in the U.S. The current lack of affordable homes has disproportionately impacted the poorest Americans, NPR reported last year, the majority of whom spend more than half of their incomes on rent, live in substandard housing or are left homeless.
Shaun Donovan, then-secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, told the outlet the country is in the midst of its "worst rental affordability crisis" ever.
And while some may point to major cities experiencing rising costs of living (such as San Francisco and New York City) as ground zero for the crisis, housing affordability in rural America is also in dire need of change.
As The Atlantic reported, Americans living in more isolated areas of the country are struggling to find safe and affordable places to live. Poverty is high in such regions of the country: In 2012, about 17.2 percent of rural Americans lived below the poverty line, compared to 14.9 percent of all Americans, according to the Housing Assistance Council.
"Much of the affordable housing stock in rural housing areas is old and in need of repair," Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, told The Atlantic. "Many of the people who live there don't have the resources that they need in order to keep the houses in good repair."
Home Matters is one advocate vying for change in both rural and urban America, and everywhere between. It's supported by a number of housing organizations that benefit from the campaign's push for affordable housing. One sponsor, for example, is Affordable Housing Resources (AHR) -- a Tennessee-based nonprofit that helps low-income families become homeowners through mortgage lending and financial literacy programs. The nonprofit has helped more than 15,000 people buy their first home.
In Home Matters' latest effort expanding awareness, everyday people explained what having a home means to them -- from providing the space to enhance their education, to simply having a "secure and comfortable" place to rest.
"Home is a warm bed ... safe ... family and friends," one woman in the video said. "Home is very important to people."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred to Shaun Donovan as the current secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development. He is the former secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development.
Find out more about Home Matters and how you can get involved here.
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