Happy New Year! If you read my last year’s blog, you’ll know that I’m not much of a fan of resolutions, but I do like fresh starts. The start of a new year makes me reflective, and since I’m not getting any younger, I thought I’d tell you why I like getting older – it gives me the long view. My children are growing up in an era of immediate gratification –they’ve never known a time without cell phones (instant access to people), or internet searches (instant access to information), or digital cameras – does anyone remember when you actually had to finish a roll of film and wait for it to be developed before you knew if a picture turned out? But change, especially change in the direction of social justice, is not instant, and it’s not easy. We know we all have a lot of work to do to stabilize communities, preserve economic diversity, and create housing opportunity. Patience and the long view allow me to appreciate that hard work and perseverance pay off over time. Impatience and a desire for immediate gratification keep the work vital and focused. Both perspectives are important.
What’s ahead for 2015? Nationally, I think we are moving towards a much more open national conversation about race and discrimination and more recognition of why economic growth is making only a few people better off and a whole lot of people worse off. Access to affordable housing in places people want to live is an important part of that discussion. My vision for 2015:
- A year to make our communities strong, vibrant, and equitable;
- A year to focus not just on economic revitalization, but on who benefits;
- A year for a national conversation about inclusion vs. exclusion;
- A year to focus not just on more housing or even more affordable housing, but how and where that housing gets built; and
- A year to focus on preserving affordable housing after it’s built to ensure success for tenants/owners and long term affordability for future generations.
Here’s some of what we at Cornerstone are looking forward to in 2015:
Inclusionary Housing Conversations Around the Country
There are currently over 500 inclusionary housing programs nationwide, and many communities are beginning to look to inclusionary housing as one solution to help meet their affordable housing goals. Cornerstone is helping demystify the complex policy choices that communities must make in order to implement inclusionary housing programs that make sense for their local conditions. In the summer, look for an Inclusionary Housing Policy Focus Report that we’re writing on behalf of the National Community Land Trust Network and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Cornerstone is also providing direct technical assistance to a number of communities at various stages of planning, implementing, or revising inclusionary housing ordinances. If you have a technical assistance need, please contact us by clicking the button below.
For 2015, our existing HomeKeeper users can expect us to keep providing the kinds of tips, trainings, and support that we offered in 2014. New HomeKeeper users can expect their jobs to become easier, because HomeKeeper helps users manage their day to day workflow, keep information all in one place, and access data on demand. Don’t just take my word for it, read what current users have to say.
HomeKeeper also collects performance data that is forwarded to the HomeKeeper National Data Hub, which aggregates the data and generates performance reports. In 2015 we’ll take a deeper look at what these reports have revealed about demographics served, initial levels of affordability, affordability over time, and a range of other metrics both for individual programs and the sector as a whole. We’ll also share some insights about how programs can use their own data to report on their impact to funders and their communities. If you are interested in learning more about HomeKeeper, join one of our free monthly tours – the next tour is on Wednesday, February 4.
Sharing What We’ve Learned from Cornerstone Homeownership Innovation Program
We are excited to gear up for our fourth Cornerstone Homeownership Innovation Program (CHIP) program year! Through the generous support of the Social Innovation Fund and the Ford Foundation, we have supported ten nonprofit organizations that run exemplary stewarded homeownership programs to grow their scale and reach. We will be sharing some of the work produced by these programs through another “Lessons from the Field” peer learning report in the first half of 2015, as well as a recorded online video series we’re producing about affordable pricing and resale formulas. We are also about to release a CHIP baseline report, part of a long-term evaluation designed to answer important question about whether these types of homeownership programs offer benefits to low and moderate income families and the outcomes for families that participate in these programs versus comparable families that don’t.
Better Access to the Information You Want
We hope you like the look of our redesigned website. One of the primary goals of our redesign was to help you more easily find the information that supports your work. Take a look around and let us know what you think – we really appreciate knowing what you like, but also what’s NOT working so we can make it better. Check back often, because we’ll be posting more information soon. While you’re there, you might want to sign up for one of our upcoming webinars.