Back to the Future: Southeastern States Housing Conference Promotes Innovation

This year, our Office of Portfolio Management hosted the Southeastern States Housing (SESH) Conference to agencies throughout the region. Inspired by a “Back to the Future” theme, this year’s event was all about innovation. With the integration of technology, speakers shared updates about housing policies, discussed what various states are doing to provide housing solutions and more.

Jennifer Schwartz, Director of Tax and Housing Advocacy for National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), delivered the opening address by defining what innovation is and how it relates to the NCSHA legislative direction. She also talked about the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 (AHCIA) and how the new and improved legislation will help address affordable housing throughout the country.   

Schwartz also addressed issues and plans to improve protection of domestic violence victims, develop strategies for boosting properties in rural areas, and explain the general public use for veterans. Last, she presented plans for solving the issues related to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Housing Credit Compliance Monitoring.

Supported by various panelists, Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic, Enterprise Community Partners VP and Market Leader, discussed innovative deals and introduced information about how various regions are solving multiple housing issues. Representatives from various states discussed their previous and current priorities such as revamping residential spaces to accommodate housing for families, building in rural areas, and incorporating choice neighborhoods to name a few. According to DCA’s Housing Policy Analyst Grace Graszer, Georgia (within the most recent years) has been focusing on rental assistance, preservation of affordable housing, care for the homeless and veterans, and more.  

To see firsthand what Georgia is doing to provide more affordable living opportunities, SESH conference attendees rode the Atlanta Streetcar to visit The Awethu House. Located at the corner of Hilliard Street and Auburn Avenue, Awethu House is a two-story building with co-living suites. In addition to a co-working space for local non-profits, the residential property supports the affordability initiative by providing two units for rent.

Notable moments included a conversation about tiny houses and how they stray away from traditional homes. Another panel discussion centered on the importance of introducing tiny spaces and ways to manage tiny home developments; the significance for considering infrastructure challenges; and as a result, encouraged attendees to work directly with sub-contractors.

Conference attendees also participated in roundtable discussions, a networking social and a “Table Topics” session. Throughout these periods, they shared their experiences, results on various projects and exchanged tips for developing more homes to accommodate community needs.

View photos from the SESH Conference here