Regional Collaboration, Housing, and Economic Development Strategies that Get Results focused on the importance of collaboration and the links between housing and effective regional economic development initiatives. Lisa Sturtevant, Executive Director of the Center for Policy and Vice President for Research at the National Housing Conference, moderated the session and cited her research in both Northern Virginia and Richmond that shows a significant projected increase in jobs over the next twenty years. Dr. Sturtevant focused attention on the relationship of employment to housing and noted the need for the housing supply to keep up in order for these regions to realize their economic potential. Dr. Sturtevant is working on a similar study in Hampton Roads to be released next year.
Laura Lafayette, CEO of the Richmond Association of REALTORS®, Executive Director of the Partnership for Housing Affordability, and a Housing Virginia Board member, emphasized the importance of presenting housing as an economic development issue to local stakeholders and stressed the value of including the full spectrum of housing needs in local decision-making. Ms. Lafayette encouraged the inclusion of local government representatives in decision making at the nonprofit board level and the important role that local data can play in encouraging good housing policy.
Mary Rouleau, Executive Director of the Alliance for Housing Solutions in Arlington, pointed to the large knowledge gap that exists about affordable housing. She encouraged the use of images and examples in presentations in order to show what successful mixed income developments look like and to demonstrate their positive effect on the communities around them. In addition, Ms. Rouleau encouraged participants to link housing to other related issues, including education, health care and transportation, in order to show the full cost of not having sufficient housing options across localities.
Andrew Friedman, Director of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation for Virginia Beach also tied affordable housing to economic development, even when it is not connected to jobs. As an example, Mr. Friedman pointed to a project completed by Virginia Supportive Housing that improved property values, contributed to the tax base, and spurred economic activity through the hiring of staff, the purchase of supplies and spending in the community by its residents. Mr. Friedman also mentioned the ongoing, successful collaboration between seven municipalities in his region to work to end homelessness. He emphasized the importance of respecting the individual processes of each jurisdiction in order to make progress as a whole.