This is the press release shared with media after the Rural Housing Webinar by Ben Winchester, Becky McCray and Deb Brown. Feel free to share it with your contacts too.
Housing has become one of the most significant challenges facing rural communities today, especially usable, and affordable housing. In a recent webinar, rural sociologist Ben Winchester along with Becky McCray and Deb Brown, co-founders of SaveYour.Town, shared valuable insights and innovative practical solutions to address rural housing challenges
Winchester emphasized the significance of community engagement, stating, “The key is community housing succession. Nobody is concerned about all of your housing when everybody should be.“
He addressed aging in place versus move-over housing. Most people want to age in their homes, but less than a quarter of people do. The larger number of seniors residing in rural communities, coupled with their desire to age in place and the lack of assisted living facilities in these areas, is creating a two-fold problem. Firstly, seniors staying in their homes means fewer houses available for sale. Secondly, since aging seniors can fall behind in home maintenance, there’s a potential increase in dilapidated housing in the future. Move-over housing is a good solution.
McCray discussed ways to customize innovative housing ideas for rural communities and their specific needs. She shared her insights from an onsite visit to Estill County, Kentucky. In a group discussion with the folks who are known to get things done, they made a list of other people and organizations who might be interested in improving housing in the area. Because they’re experienced at planning and doing, they naturally started putting together some ideas from the assets that their list uncovered.
One idea that emerged was to rehab some of the houses that the city has ended up owning. Since they have a local tech center teaching some building trades, they might be able to connect existing contractors with those students in training to do the rehab together on the city owned houses.
McCray encouraged rural communities to take action, saying, “You do not have to know all the answers, if you can be open to new ideas. Gather the people who actually make things happen. Then you can start seeing how those pieces fit together and stay open to new ideas to just see what emerges.“
Brown talked about Adaptive Reuse in small towns, what it is and gave several examples. Some of the benefits of adaptive reuse that she mentioned are:
- it covers the lack of affordable housing, and
- is environmentally friendly by keeping a teardown out of the landfill and
- You save money with no demolition expenses.
Brown shared stories of small towns that used old buildings like a school and a hotel to create new housing. These stories shared a few commonalities: even small towns can do this, don’t underestimate the cost of renovation, and rent as each unit is done. What does it take to get started on housing challenges? A group of people dedicated to making positive change. Not committees, not only government officials, not one set group of people making decisions for all. You can be the person to start on your housing challenges.
But most importantly it takes just getting started! Start small, invite a few people who’d like more places to live in your community out for coffee and have a conversation about it. Build your connections, ask who knows more about this and invite them to visit about it.
Brown highlighted the importance of building connections, stating, “Eric Takeshita from the Culture and Community Fund told me, ask for money, receive advice, ask for advice, receive money twice. The better you get at building connections and sharing connections, the better you’ll get at building new living spaces.”
The Rural Housing Webinar provided valuable insights and practical solutions for addressing the housing challenges faced by rural communities. McCray, Brown, and Winchester went into more detail in the webinar. If you want to view the entire webinar, free of charge, please go to: https://learnto.saveyour.town/rural-housing-webinar
By working together and adopting innovative approaches, rural communities can overcome these challenges and create thriving, sustainable environments for their residents.
For more information, or to bring a webinar focused on your rural challenges to your town, contact:
Deb Brown, cofounder of SaveYour.Town