This project set out to identify a unifying narrative to support advocates as they work to shift attitudes and values in support of housing reform across California. The ultimate goal was to identify a shared foundational, long-term narrative framework with accompanying messaging to equip housing advocates with communications tools to build greater public will.
Digging deep into California voters’ values and views, researchers identified a broad narrative, the “California Dream” narrative, which is effective at meeting Californians where they are across a range of political identities, values, and beliefs.
The flexibility of this narrative is one of its chief advantages. It’s compelling to voters at a high level and is effective for a range of persuasion and messaging contexts. This may be helpful for housing advocates working to advance a wide range of issues, approaches, engagement, and action amongst diverse audiences throughout California and do so in a way that builds a consistent statewide narrative. Advocates can deploy the California Dream narrative frame in a variety of ways that are valuable to their efforts, paired with messages to move the outcomes most important to them.
Ultimately, this narrative softens the ground to work across many efforts and approaches, supporting advocacy work spanning a range of much-needed solutions to the ongoing housing crisis in California.
While the CA Dream frame language paints a vision for a future in which all Californians have a home, it is important to recognize that in 2023 many Californians aren’t feeling confident that this future is attainable. Additional research should look into how to enhance this narrative frame to help move Californians from a feeling disheartened or apathetic to feeling confident that solutions are possible.