Now that a recent affordable housing assessment has been completed, Community Homes of Patagonia (CHOP) has a new foundation on which it hopes to rebuild its organizational strength and increase the housing options for the community’s low to moderate income residents.
Wendy Carter, principal consultant of Wendy Carter Development Consulting LLC, officially presented her final report to CHOP’s Board of Directors during a Zoom call on Feb. 12. Over the past several months, Carter worked in tandem with the organization’s three-member Strategic Planning Committee led by long time CHOP board director, Tod Bowden, Ken Morrow and Bob Brandt.
Carter’s report included data gathered by her team from several key sources including U.S. Census reports, interviews with ten local employers and other key stakeholders selected by the committee and 22 responses to a household survey that was available through certain employers who participated in the study.
Carter’s report confirmed what, to some, may seem readily apparent: there is insufficient affordable housing stock in Patagonia, both for purchase and rentals. A surprising finding from the household survey respondents, however, is that the lowest income households already own their own homes. While that is contradictory to the case in most communities, it may be explained by the high percentage of homes that are manufactured, which are generally much lower priced than conventionally-built homes. Also, some of the lower income families may live in houses that have been passed down through multiple generations of families.
In response to the study findings, Carter outlined several strategies CHOP could implement to help improve the supply of affordable housing and to assist individuals in purchasing such units. Over the next several weeks, a group of community members will hold a series of meetings via Zoom to discuss the several directions the organization could take to reach those goals and recommend a specific program direction for the board’s consideration.
While the housing study has demonstrated the need and demand for affordable housing in Patagonia, CHOP will need to bolster its organizational capacity to plan, develop and manage any significant affordable housing effort. This is likely to require partnering with one or more entities with expertise in affordable housing and taking on at least part-time staff, something the organization has never had.
Armed with the study results, Bowden, newly-elected president at the organization’s annual meeting on Feb. 20, said, “I hope to recruit additional board directors to bring new energy and ideas and make a real difference in CHOP’s mission to create more affordable housing in Patagonia.” Interested individuals may contact Bowden at email@example.com