Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The first event in the four-part speaker series on housing in Chaffee County begins at 5 p.m. Wed. Feb. 26, with nationally-known speaker Chuck Marohn, from the community building nonprofit known as Strong Towns. The free event at the Salida Steamplant Theater offers dinner, childcare, and a drawing for gift cards.

The series is the result of an ambitious health equity grant obtained by the Chaffee County Office of Housing and Department of Public Health that explores the intersection of access to safe housing and health inequities. The presentation will help attendees understand the root causes of America’s interrelated housing crises and identify actions that can be undertake now in Chaffee County to help turn the tide.

“We’re excited to have Chuck Marohn shine a spotlight on how our issues here in Chaffee fit into a broader national housing problem,” said Chaffee county Director of Housing Becky Gray. “His practical approach can also help us see what we can do to better understand the opportunities and trade-offs that exist, and how we can make housing more accessible for more of our community.”

According to Strong Towns, over the past nearly a century, often through well-intended, but top-down policy interventions, the county has turned a complex system that should be adaptive and self-correcting, into one prone to a never-ending cycle of boom and bust, crises and over corrections.

To address the dysfunction at the root of our housing problems, say Strong Towns advocates, the approach to housing needs to shift. “We must move away from a model in which large developers and centralized financial institutions have unprecedented sway over what is built and where, to a more resilient housing ecosystem in which the bar to entry is low, and every neighborhood can undergo incremental change over time.”

In addition to this public event, Marohn will also be the featured speaker at a lunch session from 10 a.m.-11:30 ma on February 27 from 10:00am-11:30pm at Poncha Springs Town Hall. This event is open to the public, but focused on Chaffee policy officials and planning groups.

The event is the first of what will be a fourpart series, affectionately called “our spring semester” by Gray, designed to explore Chaffee County to the wisdom of national experts who focus on improving housing and health in communities across America.

The upcoming series will include special sessions on several other housing topics of particular interest to Chaffee County. They include:

  • Missing Middle Housing – April 2-3. This event will cover national trends in diverse, affordable housing designed to be both sustainable and walk-able space.
  • Conservation Subdivision Planning – April 8-9. How to create larger networks of conservation lands.
  • Permanent Affordability (housing) Strategies – May 7-8. How to make low-income housing permanently affordable.