We must address affordable housing in Tallahassee | Opinion

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Like many communities across the country, Tallahassee is in the midst of a housing crisis. Not only is the lack of affordable housing impacting under-resourced families across the city but having a sufficient stock of housing that is affordable is an integral part of community revitalization and economic development.

Solutions to address housing affordability may look different for different communities. For some communities, down payment assistance, credit repair and financial literacy programs may increase homeownership, while local government policies to encourage affordable housing development may also be needed to improve access to affordable, high-quality rental units.

The best approach for Tallahassee may still be unclear, but now is the time to act.

That is why I am pleased to tell you about an important Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce event being held on Wednesday, May 18. It is called “A Look at Housing: Affordability, Availability and Opportunity” and is sponsored by Hancock Whitney Bank.

This event is the kickoff of the Chamber’s Prosperity Leon initiative, which aims to address areas of critical need in our community, specifically within the 32304, 32305, and 32310 zip codes.

Over the past 18 months, our Community & Prosperity Committee met with stakeholders, held listening sessions in southside neighborhoods and heard from community advocates that helped develop Prosperity Leon.

Affordable housing was a reoccurring theme and I look forward to moderating an engaging discussion alongside Christic Henry, Managing Broker/Realtor of Kingdom First Realty and Ashon Nesbitt, Chief Programs Officer of the Florida Housing Coalition.

We believe a thoughtful, strategic and collaborative approach is needed to solve this problem for our city. As a Chamber, we are committed to working with affordable housing stakeholders, educating our members, looking at the best models in other communities and working hard to find the best solutions for our unique needs.

During the forum, we will be diving deep to capture the current state of housing affordability in our community, understand the mechanics of affordable housing policies and practices, learn about public/private partnerships and discover how collaboration among key community stakeholders can lead to effective outcomes.

From ending homelessness to first-time homeownership, investing in affordable housing is an efficient and effective way to stimulate the economy. It won’t be easy because it’s not an easy issue, but we are up to the task.

Sha’Ron James is an attorney and government affairs consultant with Gunster and is Chair of the Chamber’s Community and Prosperity Committee.