Messaging for Affordable Housing
By Bobby L. Hickman
When the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commis- sion in Burlington, Vt., started working on a regional economic development plan a couple of years ago, they surveyed more
than 200 employers to identify their top challenges. While
the main concern was finding workers with the right
technical skills, the second issue was affordable housing.
“Our housing market is fairly expensive relative to our
salaries,” said Charlie Baker, executive director of the com-
mission. “We don’t have enough affordable housing in our
area, which affects our ability to have a healthy economy.”
Baker said some companies recruited out-of-state workers
who turned down new jobs because they were unable to
find suitable housing. Now leaders are crafting messages
to get the business community more involved in actively
supporting new developments.
The Chittenden County experience is far from unique.
More working families across the country report difficulty
finding housing that fits their budget. The logical and
statistical facts supporting affordable housing are well-known, including economic growth, educational progress,
and better family lives. But often efforts to increase the
housing supply encounter political apathy or neighborhood opponents who theoretically support the concept
— just “Not in My Backyard.”
Addressing those challenges requires simple, focused messages that convey the benefits of affording housing.
Several key factors go into developing those messages,
including identifying the audiences; setting specific goals;
Courtesy of BRIDGE Housing
Addressing affordable housing challenges requires simple,
focused messages that convey the benefits of affording housing.
Photo by Aimee Curtis