On May 26, 2018 more than fifty Upper Valley residents gathered at the Nelson A, Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth College for a community discussion on affordable housing in the Upper Valley. The event, co–sponsored by the Rockefeller Center and Vital Communities, began with an opening session for all participants at 9:30am. Professor Ron Shaiko, Associate Director of the Rockefeller Center, welcomed the participants and discussed the format for the community discussions. The format included a series of six discussion sessions offered simultaneously in the morning and the afternoon. Participants selected one morning session and one afternoon session to attend. The six sessions focused on the following topics: 1) Educating/Messaging about Upper Valley Housing; 2) Low Income Housing Needs; 3) Stakeholders/Partners/Resources in the Upper Valley; 4) Obstacles to New Housing Development; 5) Public Private Partnerships; and 6) Accessory Housing Units/Shared Housing/Cohousing. These sessions were facilitated by Jonathan Edwards, Andrew Winter, Tom Roberts, Bill Fischel, Renata Watts, and Jeff Lubell, respectively,
Following the presentation of the format, Shaiko introduced three presentations that provided participants with some relevant information regarding public opinion on affordable housing in the Upper Valley, the current need for housing in the Upper Valley, and the progress to date in resolving the current housing shortage. Dartmouth students, Julia Decerega ‘18 and Ray Lu ’18, presented the results of the 2018 State of the Upper Valley Affordable Housing Poll conducted during the first two weeks in May. (The students presented the poll results from 337 respondents received up until four days prior to this event; the final poll results that are published as a companion document include 403 respondents). Almost two-thirds of the respondents believe that affordable housing is a very serious problem in the Upper Valley; regarding possible solutions, the majority of respondents support the creation of new housing units in the Upper Valley. Tom Roberts, Executive Director of Vital Communities, then presented the results of the 2017 Workforce Housing Needs Assessment. The Assessment identified the current need at between 4,500 and 8,000 units in the Upper Valley. Andrew Winter, Executive Director of the Twin Pines Housing Trust, provided participants with an update on the progress on the Upper Valley affordable housing situation. Since 2013, Twin Pines has completed 205 units, has 653 units approved or underway, and currently has an additional 325 units currently under review,
Following the opening session, participants took part in the six morning discussions. The morning sessions ended at 11:45am and were followed by lunch. The six sessions were offered again in the afternoon; the day concluded with a closing session at which time Dartmouth students Ashley Dupuis, Ray Lu, Michael Parsons, Caroline Cook, Jimmy Fair, and Blake Crossing reported synopses of the six morning and afternoon sessions. The session concluded with comments and suggestions from participants regarding next steps in the housing discussion in the Upper Valley.