We at Community Action Center and on the Regional Housing Assessment steering committee agree the issue of "affordable housing" is complex, and no single, practical solution exists, but we are willing to seek solutions despite the challenge. Complex issues require complex, systems-based approaches, and affordable housing is one of those.
Recently, we worked with local partners to assess the health and social service needs in Whitman County (www.cacwhitman.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/WhitmanCountyNeedsAssessment2015.pdf) and saw that study bring actionable, local information forward. The study sparked efforts to launch the Whitman County Food Coalition, helped attract Unify Family Dental to serve Medicaid-eligible residents and inspired other grassroots work.
Likewise, assessment of regional housing needs may spark changes in the challenging housing environment. While there are many uses for such a study, the Community Action Center will use the results to identify opportunities for whatever changes might be made and to provide relief to those who face difficulty in finding good, affordable housing - or who are living in housing that is unaffordable.
Higher density zoning, auxiliary housing on residential lots, low income tax credit housing projects, mixed-use downtown and high density developments, and supportive housing for those with special needs - all of these might be part of the matrix of solutions to a complex challenge. Armed with good information and a will to create a better community for everyone, we hope to continue addressing the very difficult problem of affordable housing in the region. Likewise, my personal hope is that you, as an editorial board, and others, will be willing to do more than wish success on these endeavors, but might join in and support the efforts to finding those seemingly elusive solutions.
Executive director of the Community Action Center