Charleston Housing Summit and Engaging Millennials by Daniel Clark

Date: August 14, 2013
Category: News

Daniel Clark facilitated the roundtable discussion and polling at the Housing Matters: A Tri-County Housing Summit.  Below he shares this thoughts on the experience.

130517-0064-199x300I facilitated table discussions and keypad polling at a housing summit for the Charleston, South Carolina tri-county area. I have had the pleasure of working in this area several times now over the past few years. Between the beaches, the inter-coastal waterways, and historic Charleston, it is a beautiful place with fantastic food, great culture, and wonderful people.

The summit was organized by the SC Community Loan Fund. Under the leadership of Michelle Mapp, the Trust is embarking on an effort to develop a regional housing plan that will coordinate public and private efforts not just in housing, but in transportation, workforce and economic development. Building good affordable housing (all housing for that matter), requires more than just providing financial support for housing. It requires smarter planning around where housing and jobs exist in relationship to each other and what transportation options are available. People also need the right skills and the right jobs. Finally, housing needs to be sensitive to the increasing issues around climate change (remember the inter-coastal waterways I mentioned) and energy.

Mitchell J. Silver, Chief Planning and Development Officer and Director, Department of City Planning, City of Raleigh, and former President of the American Planning Association gave a provocative keynote address. One point that stuck with me was that most communities are still developing communities for the types of households that used to predominate, but not for the types of households that will be more common in the future. For one thing, he says we will have way too many larger single family homes in a society where people are delaying (or skipping) marriage and postponing having children. He also believes future generations will show more demand for urban amenities and smaller urban housing. A trend that is already visible in many places. If you are really into this stuff, you can watch an hour long video of Mr. Silver here.

This got me thinking about citizen engagement and dialogue and deliberation. What are we doing in this field about how we engage the Millennial Generation? What do we need to do differently? Which of our assumptions need the greatest reassessment? Many of us still tend to think in terms of offline and online engagement, while many Millennials see one inter-woven environment. These are questions and issues I have been struggling with for some time now. It feels like I am coming up with more questions and fewer answers. I don’t think the answer is clear yet, at least not enough for many of us to see. I continue to try and let go of my attachments to things past and stay in awareness for what is happening around me. I look at new things and follow where I see some energy, but then I am careful to slow down and look around so that I do not get caught up in the next new fad or technology. Let go. Stay open.

Daniel Clark
Deputy Director

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