The Hardwick Gazette

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Housing Summit Reconvenes October 26

MORRISVILLE – Planning For Vibrant Communities, an upcoming Housing Summit workshop hosted by Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) and the Working Communities Challenge (WCC,) will occur on October 26 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The workshop was originally slated to take place in August and was postponed.

Planning For Vibrant Communities invites community members to collaboratively develop housing-related action plans in an effort to solve some of Hardwick and Lamoille County’s pressing housing challenges.

“When current and prospective residents cannot find homes to rent or purchase, this is a county-wide, shared problem necessitating community and intertown collaboration to solve,” says LHP Executive Director Jim Lovinsky.

Housing For Vibrant Communities, the precursor to Planning For Vibrant Communities, featured panel and group discussions that explored interconnections between housing, economic development, and community, including municipal roles in advancing housing solutions, and opportunities for intertown collaboration. Individual citizens, municipal leaders, human service, economic development, and community planning professionals, business owners, and realtors were invited and in attendance. Participants shared what they felt is and isn’t working well in Hardwick and Lamoille County’s housing landscape, then distilled these discussion themes by vote to provide an action plan development framework for Planning For Vibrant Communities.

“Participants collaboratively honed in on five of the highest priority housing-related opportunities and challenges that need local level action, which serves as a starting point to solve and reduce pressure on some of the housing pain points in the Lamoille region,” explains Lovinsky. The discussions provide valuable guidance for the affordable housing nonprofit’s ongoing work, as well as for “local communities and municipalities to better understand their housing needs so that they can effectively address these while striking a strong balance with community vibrancy and economic development.”

Participant selected priorities center on strengthening conditions for housing development within Lamoille region communities to better meet current and projected need, and include: increasing community connectivity through enhancement of existing public transportation; reducing extensive cost and time barriers to affordable housing development through Act 250 modernization; working with the State of Vermont to expand smart growth center policies that more currently reflect this region’s changing housing landscape while continuing to protect farm and forest lands; helping towns attain the resources needed to plan for and fund expansions to water and sewer infrastructure; and increasing community support for affordable housing and homeless shelter project development through a coordinated education campaign.

At Planning For Vibrant Communities, returning and new participants will be tasked to advance the five priorities from a workshop discussion into collaboratively developed action plans that will be implemented locally. LHP and WCC are set to take the lead on the participant drafted plans and are relying on involvement from local residents, community organizations, the private sector, and municipalities concerned about housing in the area both during and after the Housing Summit.

“At LHP, we envision a Lamoille region where everyone’s housing needs are met, community vibrancy thrives, and economic development continues to flourish. Our neighbors and community partners share this vision, too,” says Lovinsky. “If you’re concerned about housing and looking for ways to get involved locally, we invite you to be with us in the community building work at Planning For Vibrant Communities or by connecting with LHP and WCC to learn about additional ways to get involved outside of the Summit.”

Planning For Vibrant Communities has been postponed to Friday Oct. 14, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Green Mountain Support Services, 93 James Road, Morrisville.

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