The challenge of meeting the fair and affordable housing needs in the Centralina region has become a top-of-mind topic for residents, businesses, and local government officials alike. The reality of this complex subject is the interconnectedness in which housing is tied to other issues communities face, such as increased transportation costs, lack of transit options, limited access to affordable healthcare providers, declining quality education options, and the lack of affordable and convenient childcare services. If these concerns are not addressed in tandem, disparities will arise and further interfere with the recruitment of workers, business performance
, and individual quality of life in the region.
Centralina is advancing fair and affordable housing topics through our 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), and the CONNECT Beyond regional mobility initiative. By collaborating with local government stakeholders, we are using data from our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify equity-challenged areas that would benefit from innovative and strategic investments. We are also working together to implement policy to develop and update land use plans to include mixed and affordable housing that is accessible to transit options, childcare providers, and employment centers. Centralina offers various housing technical assistance and strategic planning services to assist our member communities with diverse housing solutions, community development needs, and mechanisms to support workforce engagement. These include:
- Strategic planning for land use, redevelopment, housing diversity, zoning, etc.
- Support for community development (i.e., managing housing rehabilitation)
- Direct staff support for code enforcement, community planning initiatives, and data
- Technical assistance for federal/state grants and programs related to housing, infrastructure, economic development, community resilience and utility/communication needs
- Grant writing and administrative support
One recent example of how Centralina members benefit from regional peer groups is the interactive discussion on housing preservation and innovation conducted at the December 2022 Centralina Regional Managers meeting. Attendees worked in groups, with two different housing challenge scenarios. The groups reflected a mix of county, city and small-town leaders that shared with each other and the group best practices and challenges for overcoming housing concerns in their communities. The goal was to work together to share best practices and new ideas to increase the viability of existing housing stock and long-term affordability, as well as prioritize a mix of housing choices to reduce both the transportation and housing costs in their community.
Some of the highlights brought forward as solutions during the debrief include:
- Provide education to homeowners, staff, elected officials, and the general public on housing issues in the community that are held outside of the town hall setting
- Examine and promote zoning changes to allow for higher density development and multi-family options
- Develop partnerships with county officials and non-profits to help with community engagement, education, and problem-solving initiatives
- Offer options that developers and local contractors can benefit from to enhance housing preservation and lower building costs while supporting local businesses
- Coordinate and promote multi-community urgent and critical home repair program contract needs in the region to attract more interested and eligible contractors
- Examine options to partner with lending institutions to acquire/preserve naturally occurring affordable homes and consider the purchase of land dedicated to affordable housing
A Centralina Learns session focused on housing choices, specifically the “missing middle” housing types is scheduled for February 16. You may register for the session here.
If your community is interested in participating in your own exercise, you may access our housing discussion scenarios here to help facilitate the dialogue.