Forum explores affordable housing challenges in the NRV, Sept. 15

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Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley invites the community to a forum examining the region’s affordable housing challenges.

Local housing experts, government officials, community leaders, advocates and stakeholders will participate in a panel discussion and open forum on the challenges of affordable housing in the NRV from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept.15 at Blacksburg United Methodist Church’s Whisner Hall (111 Church St.) in Blacksburg.

All are welcome. There is no charge to attend.

“Even with a decent income, an affordable home is hard to find in Montgomery County,” said Shelley Fortier, executive director, Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley. “The average sales price of a home in Blacksburg is now more than $350,000. We live in the fastest growing community in southwest Virginia, where housing costs have outpaced wages and increases in student populations have decreased availability. A boom like this attracts investors and creates jobs, but it doesn’t necessarily provide places to live.”

“We know that stable communities, where people can live, work and educate in the same community, lead to stable economies,” Fortier continued. “In the New River Valley, affordable housing is a particular concern and challenge for students, young professionals, first-time homebuyers, the aging and even middle-income households. Half of the employees at Virginia Tech, based on their income, would qualify for a Habitat house. We need affordable, safe and livable homes, and enough of them.”

The forum’s panel discussion will feature Matt Hanratty (Town of Blacksburg), Andrew Warren (Town of Christiansburg), Jennifer Wilsie (The Regional Commission), Jake Powell (Community Housing Partners), Shelley Fortier (Habitat for Humanity), Brett Rader (Housing Connections), Ferne Moschella (Warm Hearth Village) and Tom Sherman (former member, Blacksburg Town Council).

The discussion will involve the state of – and challenges with – local affordable housing, including aging-in-place, home-ownership opportunities, quality of life, neighborhood stabilization and the ability to live, work and learn in the same community.

“It’s a big deal, housing, and this forum is an opportunity to address accessibility, affordability, quantity and quality,” said Fortier. “Let’s make a plan and do something together.”

Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley serves Montgomery, Giles, Floyd and Pulaski counties and Radford City. It is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God’s love into action by eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all.

All are welcome to help with the work, regardless of race, religion, age, gender, political views or any of the other distinctions that too often divide people.

Habitat welcomes volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds and serves people in need regardless of race or religion. As a matter of policy, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliated organizations do not proselytize; Habitat does not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must either adhere to or convert to a particular faith, or listen and respond to messaging designed to induce conversion to a particular faith.

For more information, contact: Kim Snider, events coordinator, Habitat for Humanity of the NRV, 540-381-1144, ksnider@habitatnrv.org

— Habitat for Humanity of the NRV