Learn about efforts to increase housing stability, enhance the stock of affordable housing, and reduce evictions and homelessness.
- Diane Yentel is the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
- Liz Osborn is the vice president for public policy advocacy at Enterprise Community Partners. She has spent 15 years shaping policy and media strategy on Capitol Hill, in the executive branch of the federal government and in the international nonprofit sector.
- Moderator: Tina Tran is the state director for AARP Texas.
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The presentation transcript was created by an automated transcription tool. Anyone looking to quote or use information from the event is advised to compare the text to the video recording.
Mike Watson, AARP: Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed those videos. I know I did, and I know Rodney did as well. A quick reminder, if you just joined us, please join along in the conversation on Twitter by using the #AARPLivable, or tag us @AARPLivable. Since Sara Bronin just did a real spotlight on zoning, I also want to take a moment to share again a new AARP resource. Now yesterday, in concert with our partner, Opticos Design, we released a new publication, "Discovering and Developing Missing Middle Housing," which we hope will jumpstart conversations on housing solutions across the country just like Sara was talking about. Now this publication is available for free to download, or order at www.AARP.org/MissingMiddleHousing, and that is all one word. The tool is loaded with examples, guidance, best practices, and even has a section with step-by-step directions for you to go out and host a missing middle walking tour in your community. Now if you look at our Twitter feed, you'll see great examples of AARP State Offices doing just that today. Shoutout to AARP Kentucky and the team in Louisville, Kentucky, who are sharing some really great photos, really encourage you to check that out.
With that, I also would be remiss if I didn't mention several other housing resources that the teams at AARP have developed for you to use for free. You should see on your screen the covers of several of these sources. First, we have “The ABCs of ADUs,” which is a primer for policymakers, local leaders, and homeowners on the benefit of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs and how communities can add them to their housing stock. Alongside that resource we also have "Accessory Dwelling Units: A Step-by-Step Guide to Design and Development,” which contains information about financing and budgeting for an ADU project, as well as visuals that can show how ADUs can be easily designed to serve people of differing ages and abilities. Rodney did a really nice overview of this yesterday and we’re really pleased to highlight it again. Third, we have a document called “Making Room: Housing for a Changing America,” which looks at our nation’s changing demographics and features housing solutions that can work for all different living arrangements. And finally, we have the “AARP HomeFit Guide,” which will show how to make a house or apartment safe, comfortable, and a great fit for people of all ages. And it’s available in five languages. You can download and order all of these resources at AARP.org/Livable. And again, those are all free for you to download and free for you to order.
So, as Rodney shared earlier, and as we move along in our program, over the next two days, we’re going to explore four key housing themes. Yesterday, we had panel discussions focused on housing choice and housing design and now we’re going to kick off another conversation on our third theme, housing stability. Our next panelists will highlight efforts to increase housing stability, enhance the stock of affordable housing, and reduce evictions and homelessness just like you saw in those videos before. Rodney, do you want to tell us a little bit more about it?
Rodney Harrell, AARP: Yeah, I certainly so, and I’m excited about how much we have in terms of great resources for folks, and I’m really looking forward to this next panel as well. But before we jump into that, I do want to start with two more quick quizzes, you know how I love quizzes.
So at this point, on your screen you’re going to see a Slido question, and it is: During the recent economic volatility from the pandemic, many people were at high risk of evictions and foreclosures. Thankfully, we saw some action to keep people in their homes. So, the first questions is: How many households are estimated to have avoided eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to measures including rental assistance, eviction moratoriums, and others? All right, your choices are: 5 million people, 500,000 people, 750,000 people, or 1 million people. How many people do you think out there? All right, they’re entering in their answers, and Mike, what does it look like?
Mike Watson: Well, Rodney, it’s clear that we have a crowd of housing advocates and folks who are working in the community on the ground, because there is a very real awareness of the threat that many people face from eviction during the pandemic. Right now, about 40 percent or 4 in 10 folks are saying that 5 million people were estimated to have avoided eviction due to measures including rental assistance and eviction moratoriums. Another 40 percent are saying about a million, and combined about 20 percent are saying 750,000 or 500,000. So again, a really heavy weight toward the higher numbers.
Rodney Harrell: Yeah.
Mike Watson: So what are we looking at?
Rodney Harrell: So it looks like we’re pretty much neck and neck between 1 million and 5 million out there. Well, the answer is one million, and that hopefully, might go up over time, but researchers currently estimate that a little over a million households avoided losing their homes thanks to these measures. So that’s really a million families that are really better off. Okay, that was a good one. So let’s do one more.
Any conversation on housing stability includes making sure that we have stable forms of homeownership. So our question is: In the US, how many adults aged 65 or older own their own homes? Is it 10 million, 7.4 million, 5,2 million, or 8.7 million? Very specific figures in there. So let us know what your thoughts are, and Mike, what are people saying?
Mike Watson: So Rodney, we have about a third of folks, and this is the top answer so far, saying 7.4 million adults aged 65 and older own their own homes. Very closely coming up is about 8.7 million, and a little further down, about 20 percent and about 15 percent are saying 5.2 million or 10 million. So again, really kind of heavy concentration in this about 7½ million folks over the age of 65 are owning their own homes.
Rodney Harrell: You know, I just can’t underestimate our audience. This is another one of the tougher questions that I thought you wouldn’t get, but you’re right, of those who said 7.4 million. Interestingly, homeownership among adults aged 65 and older is actually at historic lows at 73 percent. And so the number of renters among adults aged 65 and older are expected to grow from 7.4 million in 2020 to about 12.9 million by 2040. So lots of changes happening out there.
With that as our lead-in, I think we’re ready for our next panel. But before we do jump in, I want to remind you one more time to ask your questions. So don’t forget that we can go to the Q&A tab in Slido. You can stay on the same page you had up earlier, or you can reload it using the QR code that we’re going to put up on the screen here for a second. So take a look at that and make sure that you’re signed in and can ask those questions.
Rodney Harrell, AARP: At this point, I’d like to welcome Tina Tran, state director for AARP Texas, who will moderate our next conversation for us. Tina, welcome.
Tina Tran: Thank you so much, Rodney, I really appreciate being with you all today. It is my pleasure to introduce the panel to you. Diane Yentel is the President and CEO of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition which is dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy and ensures people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in communities of their choice. Liz Osborn is the Vice President for Public Policy Advocacy at Enterprise. She has spent 15 years shaping policy and media strategy on Capitol Hill in the Executive Branch and in the international nonprofit sector. Please join me in welcoming our panelists.
So the first thing we're going to do is start with a Slido question for our audience. And the question is: Housing cost determine whether individuals and families can live in a neighborhood without sacrificing other basic necessities, so just food and healthcare. Low-income individuals and people living on fixed incomes acutely feel the effects of the nation's affordable housing crisis. To what degree are you concerned with the availability of housing that is affordable in your community. I'll just give folks a couple minutes here to respond. And Liz and Diane, I'm going to ask you that we just noticed the results as they come in, and as you can see, as Rodney said, we do have an audience of housing advocates because the level of concern is quite high. We're just about at 80 percent. And there you see, and climbing.
So Liz, Diane, as you can see, the level of extreme concern for the availability of housing that's affordable in the community is very high. I don't, I would say it would be surprising, but given the number of housing advocates and the work that you all do, probably not quite as surprising as one might suspect. Liz, do you want to give a response?
Liz Osborn: Sure. So I think this is reflective of the fact that affordable housing is really growing on people's radars recently as a challenge we all need to come together and work to address. I think this is as a result of a number of different factors, right. The pandemic has made housing unstable for even more Americans right at a time where it seemed it was the only safe place to be, and that's coupled with really skyrocketing housing rents, the impact of housing on inflation that we're experiencing now, and then the increased public understanding that those of us in the housing field have known for a long time, which is that the impact that having a safe, stable place has to live on so many other aspects of life, right, it's not just about having a home. It impacts your access to healthcare, education, economic opportunity and more. So I think it's good that this is high on people's radars and that more and more people are kind of coming to the table to advocate for affordable housing.
Tina Tran: Thanks for sharing those insights, Liz. Diane, any response from you?
Diane Yentel: Sure, I'd say it's both heartening and troubling to see the level of concern among people here on this webinar today. I think it's heartening to know that there are so many advocates on this webinar who care so deeply about affordable housing, who understand its importance, but I would guess that many of the people who are rating their concern as so high, are doing so because they, themselves, are feeling the crunch of housing, a lack of housing affordability, or they know somebody close to them who is. and it's reflective, the results here are reflective of some formal polls that we've done at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition in recent years where we've had statistically significant responses to show that the concern, both the concern for affordable housing and the individual challenges that come from a lack of affordable housing have been steadily growing in recent years for a lot of the reasons that Liz mentioned.
It is becoming a more challenging environment, especially for the lowest income renters, but the flip of that, the good news there is that as more people recognize the challenges and even feel those challenges themselves, the better able we will be to build the political will necessary to actually get to the solutions that we need to resolve the crisis.
Tina Tran: Thank you so much, Diane. And as a follow-up question for you, almost 20 million households with adults aged 50 and over living in them, are housing cost burdened. That is, they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Approximately 9.8 million households headed by someone aged 50 or older, are considered severely cost burdened and spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Housing cost burden affects both homeowners and renters, though renters are more likely to experience it. What housing policies are leading the way on providing more affordable housing for low-income families, and can you share some examples that are particularly promising?
Diane Yentel: Sure, thanks for the question, and it's true that low-income people and especially renters or people experiencing homelessness are really struggling with housing affordability. Even before the pandemic, we had 10 million of the lowest-income households that were paying at least half of their very limited incomes towards rent each month, and many were paying much more, 60, 70, 80 percent of their income just to keep a roof over their heads. And when you have such limited income to begin with and you pay so much of it for your home, you are always one financial shock, an unexpected medical bill, a broken down car, sick child, away from missing rent, facing eviction, and in worse cases, becoming homeless.
So for many of these same households, the pandemic was that financial shock. They lost jobs, they lost hours of work, they lost wages. It was harder than ever for them to make rent. And the federal government, really government at all levels, responded with historic protections and resources that kept millions of people who otherwise would have lost their homes during the pandemic, stably housed during it. Now protections have expired, resources are, the emergency resources are nearly depleted, and renters are facing rising inflation, skyrocketing rents, and increasingly a risk of homelessness.
So those pandemic resources as essential and unprecedented as they were, they were only ever meant as a temporary patch to the gaping holes in our social safety net. We have a system in our country where only 1 in every 4 households that needs housing assistance receives any. So 75 percent of people who need housing assistance are eligible for it. They don't get any. They are not part of the lucky 25 percent that wins what's essentially a housing lottery system in our country.
So robust investments in long-term solutions to keep the lowest income people housed is badly needed and long overdue. And some of those key housing policies and programs that are needed at the federal level are universal rental assistance, preservation and construction of public and other deeply affordable housing, permanent emergency rental assistance programs, and robust tenant protections that protect tenants against egregious rent hikes or unwarranted evictions. At the state and local level, many communities are looking for and finding other funding mechanisms to continue ERA programs, Emergency Rental Assistance programs, and in many ways, most importantly, are looking to address the restrictive local zoning that inhibits construction and drives up costs for everyone.
Tina Tran: Thank you so much, Diane, and thank you for providing those compelling examples. Liz, this next question is for you. Natural disasters, which have become more frequent and intense, can wreak havoc on the nation's housing system which was not built to withstand these threats. In fact, the United States is estimated to lose $10 billion per year in damages with people of color and families with less wealth disproportionately impacted. How have you seen communities most effectively expand affordable housing resilience to protect against a threat of natural disasters, and what would you recommend to communities struggling with long-term housing recovery after natural disasters?
Liz Osborn: Thanks, Tina. I think this is a really terrific question because it highlights two sides of the climate coin around housing, how we can build housing so that it (a) can withstand disasters, but also doesn't contribute to climate change, and (b) once a disaster occurs, how do we recover equitably? So to that first point, I’d highlight the importance of stronger building codes and retrofits of existing housing as well as compliance with the latest energy codes. Modern building codes continue to be one of the most cost-effective ways to safeguard against natural disasters. If all new construction adopted modern building codes, it’s estimated that it would save $600 billion over the next few decades. In terms of buildings that already exist, investing in retrofits would have a similar impact saving an estimate of over $2 trillion from a $500 billion investment. So huge impact there.
The energy code piece is the part of the work that proactively addresses housing’s impact on climate. So recognizing this connection, Enterprise has worked to develop a green communities criteria which is a national green building program that’s designed explicitly for affordable housing. So we’ve certified 120,000 homes in over 35 states which really shows, it’s shown us that it’s good for the environment, but also lowers costs. Each year Enterprise Green Communities Certified Developments are saving $32 million in energy and water costs.
For the second part of the question around how we can best address long-term housing recovery after natural disasters, I’ve turn to one of Enterprise’s top policy priorities which we’re actually working on very closely with Diane and her team and NOHC, and that is to permanently authorize the CDBG-DR program. So the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, or CDBG-DR program is the federal government’s tool to address residential disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts, and it’s administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It does great work, particularly assisting lower income communities who are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters, but unlike FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Programs, CDBG-DR takes a long time to reach recoveries, to reach communities because it’s not permanently authorized. That means Congress must vote to approve its use before funds can be made available which then can lead to sometime taking even three years from when a disaster strikes to when communities receive this really important help.
It also means that every time there’s new CDBG-DR funding appropriated by the federal government, HUD needs to write new regulations or rules for how that money can be used which prolongs the process, but also could lead to deep inequity between how disaster responses are rolled out. So you have one set of rules for one place, and a different set of rules for another, and you’re going to see really different results for different people. So that’s why Enterprise and NOHC and our partners are working to make sure that CDBG-DR is permanently authorized which would result in faster and more equitable disaster response.
So I’ll do just a quick plug here. If you like calling your member of Congress and urge them to support the [inaudible] in reforming Disaster Recovery Act, and including it in any end of your legislation which is a big step we can take towards rebuilding faster after some disasters.
Tina Tran: Thank you so much, Liz. And this next question is actually for the both of you and is a really compelling issue that’s impacting all of the United States. So homelessness is one of our country’s most urgent and tragic and solvable crises. On an average in 2017, nearly 580,000 people were homeless in the United States. The number of homeless older adults is expected to rise. Communities of color are also dramatically overrepresented due to decades of discrimination and structural racism in housing policy. Not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent deep recession that have left an estimated 30 to 40 million Americans at risk for eviction. What are some of the most critical actions that local leaders and advocates can take now to prevent and address homelessness, and how can we engage the community meaningfully on this issue and identify the right moment of influence to address elected leaders? Liz, would you mind going first?
Liz Osborn: Sure. So I came to Enterprise from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness where I worked during the Obama Administration, so this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. And I will say, you know, there is actually some good news on homelessness, and that’s that we know how to fix it. We have all the tools that we need except for House buy-in from elected officials, to achieve something called functional zero on homelessness, which basically says that while we never will be able to prevent all homelessness, we can ensure that when people do fall into homelessness, it’s rare, brief, and nonrecurring. There aren’t a lot of other social issues where the answer is that clear, and so in that way, we’re fortunate.
There are a couple of different factors to address here, but I’ll start with the supply issue. Affordable housing and homelessness are all part of the same continuum, which means that to address homelessness, we need to make sure there are enough affordable homes for people to live in. And Diane has already given a really great overview of these programs in her opening question, so one action is to make sure we are adequately funding the programs at the federal, state, and local level that create and preserve affordable housing.
Then we need to make sure we’re investing in ways to keep people from falling into homelessness when they have a home, but they’re at risk of experiencing homelessness due to any number of reasons. Best practices here include things like eviction prevention programs, legal services, mediation, financial assistance, and employment services, but I’d also highlight the importance of creating links between housing providers and other public service providers. So this is because people are often engaged with multiple public systems such as healthcare, child welfare, or criminal justice before experiencing homelessness. So, for example, making sure that there’s a way for the criminal justice system to engage with housing providers can go a really long way to making sure that people have a place to live when they exit the criminal justice system.
Tina Tran: Thanks so much, Liz, and I do want to make sure that Diane gets an opportunity to respond to this question as well, and we are kind of ticking on the time. So Diane, your thoughts on how to address homelessness in the United States.
Diane Yentel: Sure, the first line of your question about homelessness being urgent, tragic, and solvable is actually quoting me from an op-ed that I published with Representative [Pramila] Jayapal, a head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and it’s absolutely true that homelessness is solvable. I think one thing that many miss when talking about homelessness is that communities are ending homelessness at the individual level every day. What they have more difficulty doing is stemming the tide of more people falling into homelessness due a lack of housing affordability. So in L.A., for example, every day 200 people are moved from homelessness into stable housing. On the same day, another 225 people become homeless, and the root cause of homelessness is a lack of access to decent affordable housing.
So ending homelessness requires that more housing that’s deeply affordable to the country’s lowest income people through all of the solutions that I mentioned earlier is fully funded. An unfortunate reality today is that as homelessness is increasing and becoming increasingly visible through growing encampments, et cetera, there’s a backlash that is growing, a really unfortunate backlash against both the clear, proven, long bipartisan solutions of providing housing first to move people out of homelessness, and increasingly, and really dangerously, the backlash is growing against individual people that are homeless.
So at the community level, we have to recognize that we’ll only solve homelessness as a community when we’re willing and able to provide more affordable housing in our communities, and as needed, the wraparound services that can help people thrive and stay housed. And we have to recognize that quick and easy attempts to criminal people for being homeless or that sweep people out of view, do nothing to actually address homelessness, often they’re expensive, and it just makes it more difficult often for those individuals to actually find stability. So systemic challenges require systemic solutions, and that requires all of us to follow data, research, proven best practices, and to build the political will to make necessary local changes and get federal funding at the scale needed to end homelessness once and for all.
Tina Tran: Great, thank you so much, Diane. And it’s always good when we make sure to quote the experts. So for our final question, it has been my honor to join you today. For our final question is a rapid fire; one minute each: Throughout this workshop we want to equip participants with tools, resources, and strategies for getting work done in communities. With that in mind, what should we each be ready to do differently as a result of this panel? Diane, one minute.
Liz Osborn: Sure, I’ll quickly mention there actions that each of you can take. One is to recognize that decisions are made by those who show up. Communities meetings about what happens in that community, where affordable housing is built, if affordable housing is built, matter tremendously. So show up and say yes in my backyard. Two, learn about your local zoning, and how that might be inhibiting the construction of badly needed apartments and work to improve it. And third, be in close touch with your members of Congress. You are an expert on what’s happening in your community on what you think should change, and your member of Congress ought to hear from you frequently about what those needs are and how you expect them to resolve them.
Tina Tran: Thank you so much, Diane. Liz?
Liz Osborn: Thank you, so I would agree, members of Congress and elected officials respond when constituents tell them that an issue is concerning to them. And just thinking back to that original poll, 80% ranked this issue as the highest level possible in importance. And so if you all get on the phone, have meetings with your elected officials and let the know this is a top priority for you and needs to be addressed, talk about why it is important to their constituents, and have a specific ask about what you’d like them to do, I think that would really go a long way to moving [inaudible].
Tina Tran: Well thank you so much, Liz. And thank you so much for joining us on our panel today. And I’ll hand it back over to Rodney and Mike.
Mike Watson: Thank you, Tina. Thank you, Diane. Thank you, Liz. That was really fantastic. It’s now your chance to ask your questions and get your questions answered by our panelists. Remember, if you’d like to ask your question, please use the Slido Q&A function. You can join us in Slido by either logging into your browser and typing in Sli.do and enter the event code, “LivableHousing,” or scan the QR code on the screen.
We already have several piling up from our listeners, and we’ve been going through them. So I’m going to go ahead and jump right in for you, Diane and Liz. The first question that we have here that I think has been a pretty consistent them in the Q&A, and I think you both can answer very well, is around folks who are fixed incomes experiencing cost increases. So how can we protect folks on fixed incomes who are either renting or own their own homes and are seeing their property tax assessments increase. Diane, let’s start with you and then go to Liz.
Diane Yentel: Sure. You know, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, we focus on extremely low-income renters. So people who are 30 percent and below area median income, and they are predominantly seniors or people with disabilities on very limited fixed incomes, talking about $12,000 to $15,000 a year for an individual, or they are families with working parents who are working very low-wage jobs and a family of four brings in maybe $25,000 to $30,000 a year. So those seniors or those people with disabilities that are on those extremely limited fixed incomes, of course, they can’t afford rent increases of any kind, and they certainly can’t afford rent increases of $50, $100, $200 dollars a month because their income isn’t changed month by month or year by year. It points back to how essential permanent, affordable housing is so that people can pay what’s affordable to them, usually about 30 percent of their income, whatever that is, and if the cost to operate that apartment go up, it’s covered by an increase in the subsidy, not by a rent increase on that individual.
In the private market, when rents go up for people who have such limited fixed incomes, they end up getting evicted. I got an email earlier this week from a mom and her disabled son whose landlord raised the rent beyond what they could pay. They were evicted, and they’re now sleeping in a storage unit. So this is unacceptable. It points back to how essential housing affordability is, and how essential it is that the federal government fund at the scale necessary, solutions to keep all households in America stably housed, and especially those that are most vulnerable including those seniors and people with disabilities with very little income.
Mike Watson: Thank you, Diane. I think that story you just shared really brings home the importance of this. Liz, is there anything you’d like to add to what Diane just shared?
Liz Osborn: I mean I would echo everything Diane said and just highlight a couple of the programs that the federal government can fund more to make sure that people who are on fixed incomes are paying that 30 percent instead of having increases in rent that don’t take into account what their incomes are, and that’s the voucher programs, both through HUD and also USDA Rural Housing Service provides vouchers better paired with their housing production programs as well. So those are two, I think, in particular to advocate for additional funding.
Mike Watson: Thank you, Liz. I think, folks tuning in today are a lot of housing advocates from across the country and AARP volunteers who are used to advocating. So appreciate the calls to action. One of the next questions that we’re seeing here in the theme, and this is something that Diane, you touched on kind of the systemic challenges needing systemic approaches, but we’re seeing a lot of questions in the Chat specifically around the topic of homelessness. And what are kind of the one or two things that a community or folks who are trying to get their community to do something, should undertake that can kind of most quickly make some progress and address the challenge of homelessness nationwide. Liz, let’s start with you and then go to you, Diane.
Liz Osborn: Yeah, so I would highlight the opportunity to invest in kind of the programs that we know work to address the specific challenges of people that are experiencing homelessness. And so a couple of examples of those include Rapid Rehousing, which provides short-term rental assistance and services to help people get housed quickly, increase stability and stay housed, and permanent supportive housing, which pairs housing with voluntary holistic services for people who are experiencing long-term homelessness. I also would highlight the critical importance of taking a housing first approach to all types of interventions, and that means that first and foremost, we get people into a home, and then we provide any other services that they need rather than say requiring someone to get sober as a condition of accessing housing.
Mike Watson: Thank you, Liz. Rodney and I are both jotting down notes here from what you were saying. Diane, is there anything you want to add to Liz’s answer?
Diane Yentel: Absolutely agree with everything Liz said. I would underscore and amplify all of that, and I would say too that so obviously what we need most is affordable housing in communities. And in many communities, it will take a long time to be able to get the level of affordable housing needed to be able to resolve the homelessness that exists in that community, or to prevent further homelessness.
So as we work to get policymakers to fund solutions of scale and for communities to break down barriers and build more affordable housing, we also need short-term solutions to move people from unsafe or inhuman conditions to safety. And there’s been two really tremendous opportunities during the pandemic that too few communities have taken advantage of. And one is what’s called non-congregant sheltering where FEMA has actually stepped in to provide, for some time they were providing 100 percent cost-reimbursement to move people who are sleeping in encampments or other unsafe situations, even to deconcentrate homeless shelters, and move people into hotels or motels where they can have their own room, some more dignity, and safety from the pandemic certainly and other factors as a community that works for medium and longer term solutions for them. More communities should take advantage of this. There’s money on the table that people are not using.
And the other, just very briefly, is to again too few communities have done, there’s resources that the federal government provided to allow for communities to consider purchasing, rehabbing, and changing hotels or motels into permanent supportive housing that Liz just talked about. It was a tremendous opportunity, especially as hotels were shutting down during the pandemic, there’s a window of opportunity there that’s still open, but it’s closing, and again, there’s money on the table that communities really should more to take advantage of, move people to safety for these short-term solutions while we work towards the long-term ones.
Mike Watson: Thank you both for that. That was very fantastic of a review. We’re running really tight on time, so we have one final question for you, and just ask if you can kind of provide your answer in Tweet form, very brief, kind of one-minute or less. One of the themes we’re seeing in the questions is a very population question, is around rural communities. And when we’re talking about housing stability and homelessness, what are the unique challenges that rural communities are facing, and what are some quick solutions or systemic solutions that they can undertake to begin to address the challenge of homelessness and affordable housing? Again, a big issue, but hoping you can kind of provide a Tweet-like answer.
Diane Yentel: Well I would just say briefly that many of the same challenges of affordability that exist in urban and suburban communities exist too in rural communities. So the challenges, the need is not typically that much different. What is different is the capacity and the ability to use resources to scale. So one of the things that we have to do better at when we’re looking at federal resources that go to rural communities, is break down some of those obstacles, find ways to build the capacity of community organizations, to be able to utilize these funds and build or otherwise provide the housing that’s needed, that’s affordable to those rural folks.
Mike Watson: Thank you, Diane. Liz, is there anything you’d like to add, any Tweets to share?
Liz Osborn: Sure, so I’d start my Tweet with #fundUSDAruralhousingservice. So I think a lot of the time people tend to think that affordable housing, funding from the federal government comes through HUD, which is does, that’s all critical, but USDA also has programs that focus specifically in rural and Native American communities, and so making sure we’re including those programs in the conversations that we’re having is really, really important as well.
Mike Watson: Thank you both for that, and thank you so much for everything that you’ve shared in this panel. Thank you, Tina, Diane, and Liz. That was really a fantastic discussion. We so appreciate you taking the time to join us. And now we’re going to be moving onto our next part of our program which is our next innovation showcase videos featuring livability experts, local leaders, and community volunteers from across the country. This video package lasts about 18 minutes, and then we’ll return with more life programming.
Page published October 2022
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