I often speak at public meetings about the state of affordable housing in our region. In both our rural and larger towns, we’re seeing many of the same challenges as large urban areas:
What is the federal role in affordable housing, and how can we make improvements?
The federal government has a housing subsidy program, called Section 8, that provides housing vouchers that can be associated with a renter or with a particular housing unit. In our region of California, like many other places, the program is not working very well. There are also federal financial incentive programs to encourage development of affordable housing, but in many rural areas, we are not seeing any new housing development, much less affordable housing development, so these programs do not have much impact on our communities. In the end, much of our less-expensive housing units are old, dilapidated, and may contain hazardous building materials or mold that is not healthy for tenants.
I think we can develop innovative programs that can help coordinate federal, state, and local programs and laws to improve affordable housing.
This week I spent several days with representatives from the Maidu community, government agencies, non-profits, and academia in Genesee Valley, Plumas County. We camped in a beautiful stand of trees during the hottest day of the year and got drenched in a thunderstorm and talked and laughed and learned together. It was an honor to be invited to participate in this gathering.
I learned so much that it’s hard to capture in a short article.
We talked and talked and talked about future projects that balance fire resistance with timber production and ecosystem restoration. These kinds of meetings are critical to California’s future, and we need to talk a lot more about how to best model the way and scale up projects to cover our entire forest landscape.
For more information about Genesee Valley and forest planning, visit these websites: