20 April 2011

Housing summit puts housing issues in spotlight

by Shanna Wiest

courtesy woodleywonderworks
The York County Housing Summit is April 27 at the Holiday
Inn Conference Center of York, 2000 Loucks Road, York.
A home, whether you own or rent, is not just a roof over your head. It's the place where you live your life, where you raise your children and enjoy the company of friends and neighbors as a community. It’s where your dreams come to fruition. Most people take housing for granted. For many others owning a home or having a safe and affordable place to live is a dream.

Just as a place to call home is the bedrock of the family, it is also a core ingredient in a strong and prosperous community. Neighborhoods with a range of quality housing options have lower crime rates, better performing schools, stronger local economies, and a better overall quality of life.

Most people would agree with the statement that everyone should have access to safe, decent, affordable homes. It’s a great goal for a community but how we get there is a challenge.

Let’s take a look at a few of the challenges we are facing in York County.

Homeless: York’s Helping Hands estimates upwards of 500 people a day are homeless in York County, meaning there are that many people or families each day who don’t have a home or space to call their own. The numbers have increased from last year, according to a York County survey conducted in January.

Senior Housing: About 60,000 York Countians are over the age of 65, and it is expected that the largest number of baby boomers will retire in 2015. How can we prepare for older adults to live comfortably throughout their golden years?

Planning for growth/infrastructure: Despite the downturn in the economy and the decrease in the number of new homes being constructed, York County is still one of the fastest-growing communities in the Northeast. All signs lead to continued growth in the future. As a community, we need to develop opportunities for creative land use planning and revitalization of urban communities today.

Financing Affordable Housing: Both federal and state funding programs have been cut for affordable housing rehab and housing services, but the number of people on waiting lists in York County for affordable housing programs has grown. How can we create partnerships with the private sector and use existing tools and programs to meet our current and future housing needs?

Foreclosures, Mortgages and Appraisal Issues: The recession started as a housing crisis and York continues to be affected. The Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties reports that in the first two months of this year more than 30 percent of the homes sold were distressed sales, such as bank-owned or government-owned properties and short sales.

These issues and other challenges will be discussed at the York County Housing Summit on Wednesday, April 27. I encourage you to attend this event and become actively engaged with housing issues in our community.

Shanna Wiest is the government affairs director for the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties and has been with the association since 2005. In her position, she advocates for homeownership, economic development and smart growth planning. Shanna also serves as the secretary/treasurer for the York/Adams Regional Smart Growth Coalition and the president elect of the Economics Club for the York County Chamber of Commerce. Shanna earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dickinson College and her Master’s of Public Administration from Penn State University. Shanna lives in Springettsbury Township with her fiancĂ© Joe.

1 comment:

Write-In Candidate for York County Commissioner said...

It is a challenge to figure out the right housing options for different income levels. It was important to have this summit and start bringing these important issues to light!