First Housing Forum Held

Putting a spotlight on policies for affordably-priced homes, new residential designs, and housing tools for municipalities, the County’s first annual housing forum, Creating A+ Homes, was held last week. Attended by approximately 70 representatives from municipalities, developers, realtors, consulting firms, community organizations, and others, the event was headlined by keynote speakers Ray D’Agostino, CEO of Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership and Brian Phillips, AIA, founding Principal of ISA. Ray D’Agostino shared stories of his experience in municipal government and with the Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership regarding creating homes that are affordable for a range of income levels, while Brian Phillips discussed the design and construction of different housing types, particularly smaller footprint homes.

The keynote speakers were joined for a panel discussion on challenges to creating affordably-priced homes by Sarah Peck, founder and Principal of Progressive New Homes; Yocasta Lora, Associate State Director for Advocacy and Community Outreach at AARP; and Jean Krack, Borough Manager of Phoenixville. The panel also discussed the need for affordably-priced homes and what initiatives could be useful to ensuring all residents in Chester County have a place to come home to – a place that provides them shelter and comfort, a place where they feel part of the community. Each of our speakers represented an organization that has valuable resources to offer in the discussion of affordably-priced homes, ranging from lessons in grassroots community efforts to designs for middle-income homes.

Planning Commission Executive Director Brian O’Leary provided an update on various online tools and resources available, including tools on Accessory Dwelling Units, Affordable Housing Bonuses, Age-Restricted Housing, Housing Rehabilitation, Mini-Houses, Mobile Home Parks, Residential Conversions, and Universal Design. An interactive map of housing opportunities across the county is also now available online, although the map will continue to evolve based on municipal zoning changes.

Hosted jointly by the Housing Choices Committee and the County’s Planning Commission and Department of Community Development, the housing forum is anticipated to become an annual event to address issues that impact the affordability, adaptability, accessibility, and design of homes, both existing stock and planned development.  Many thanks to our keynote speakers and panelists for the time they devoted to this event, and to Westminster Presbyterian Church for hosting the event.  To learn more about advancing the cause of affordably-priced homes, please visit the websites of the event’s speakers or the housing page on the Planning Commission website.