Housing, historically and for the foreseeable future, is a primary economic driver for this country. Purely from a capitol perspective, it’s a tremendous resource within communities. A lot of people, and many investors, put their own money into housing. The creation of new housing, or replacement of existing housing stock, creates jobs, improves quality of life within communities and drives broader economic activity with the production of goods and services. Economically, housing is a big deal.
Housing strategies provide a great opportunity for communities, from small villages to entire counties, to impact the quality of life for their residents. Carefully considering lessons learned from the past, housing strategy needs to be used as a way to promote diversity and deconcentrate poverty. It’s been found that diversity is a key element of stronger communities.
“There appears to be widespread agreement among housing practitioners that including a mix of incomes within a development can be helpful in creating a safe, healthy and sustainable living environment for families,” according to the Center for Housing Policy.
Communities benefit from promoting diversity, advocating inclusion, and considering affordability in their planning and zoning strategies so there are opportunities not only for people with disabilities, but lower-income wage earners and moderate-income wage earners to live in the communities where they work. It’s also been proven that people benefit when living next door to someone with a different life experience.
In “The Rise of the Creative Class,” Richard Florida documents how “regional economic growth is powered by creative people, who prefer places that are diverse, tolerant and open to new ideas.”
Community Housing Network is involved in virtually every aspect of housing, and is fortunate to have staff members who are experts in most of them. In future blog posts we look forward to sharing our knowledge and expertise with you, whether you are a community planner, an elected official, someone interested in housing as a social issue, someone who wants to know more about our work, or someone who would like to support us.
Each of the blog posts here in the Housing Hub will fall into one of six categories:
- Inclusive Communities – regards the creation and maintenance of thriving diverse communities.
- Housing Crisis – regards addressing those with a dire need to secure or maintain housing.
- Fair Housing – regards federal, state or local laws ensuring all have equal access to the housing of their choice.
- Housing Stability – regards practices leading to the ability of residents to afford reliable and secure housing.
- Long-term Housing Solutions – regards factors surrounding and solving permanent housing.
- Housing Policy – regards federal, state or local legislation, policy or practice impacting housing.
Our mission means we are involved in: developing affordable housing; offering free foreclosure prevention counseling; providing short-term housing assistance for those who are homeless and have mental health diagnosis or developmental disability; assisting homeless veteran families with myriad services; and providing services or referrals to those who are homeless or at the risk of homelessness who call our Housing Resource Center.
In the past few decades, well-intended developers created pockets of sameness, both in terms of the look of housing and those who lived in that housing. Over time, those housing developments proved to be unsustainable for both the housing stock and the residents. The tapestry of a neighborhood is enhanced by a diverse population contributing various life experiences, thus strengthening and reinforcing the community.
“Mixed-income housing also potentially can have a significant role in transforming a distressed neighborhood into a healthy community that is home to households with a wider range of incomes, has fewer social ills, and offers a higher quality of life,” writes Alistair Smith in “Mixed-Income Housing Developments: Promise and Reality” for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.
Our role as a community development organization is to work with communities to help them plan and implement successful strategies. Those include promoting affordable housing, giving people with disabilities and others, a chance to live in the communities where they grew up, to address existing homelessness and to stem its causes. They also include promoting sustainability so housing stock will not be vacant 10, 15, 20 years from now and so that their community will be a desirable place to live long into the future.