Affordable housing focus of forum series

  • Homeless residents pack up their tents and belongings on the Greenfield Common in August 2018. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

  • Homeless residents camp on the Greenfield Common in July 2018. The Greenfield Farmers Market operates in the background. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 3/25/2021 5:03:03 PM

Greening Greenfield and Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) have joined forces to present a virtual series of forums on affordable housing options and development throughout the county.

“Housing is a Human Right: We Can Make It Happen” is a nine-session virtual forum that will consider the options people have for affordable housing and engage Franklin County and North Quabbin area residents in making affordable housing opportunities into realities, according to organizers.

“The planning committee recognized that housing has become a commodity that is only available to the highest bidders, whether they be buyers or renters,” Forum Organizing Committee Chair Susan Worgaftik said. “If you don’t have a regular income that is higher than minimum wage, you are likely to become homeless at some time in your life.”

Homelessness is often treated as a “personal failing,” she said, rather than the result of a system that sees housing as something to buy and sell, rather than a need for everyone.

“We need to change how we view housing,” FCCPR member Doug Selwyn said. “Housing is something that everyone should have as a right. It should be affordable, meet health and safety codes, and be accessible to all. There will still be luxurious homes and those that are more modest, but no one should live on the streets or in a tent in the richest country in the world.”

The Forum Organizing Committee met for 18 months to plan the series, which will include everything from analysis of why housing has become a commodity to real-life situations of those who have had difficulty buying or renting a home. There will also be discussion about community responses that could increase the availability of affordable permanent housing.

Committee member Sarah Brown-Anson said the homelessness encampment on the Greenfield Common in 2018 brought the problem home to everyone in the area.

“The responses for temporary shelter have been important to keep people alive, especially during the winter,” Brown-Anson said. “But the answer, in the long run, is not shelters. It is to develop affordable housing that meets peoples’ needs. Our goal is to engage our community in finding ways to act on long-term solutions.”

Schedule

The series will kick off Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. with a keynote panel titled “Our Housing Crisis: How We Got Here and What We Can Do.” That will be followed by:

■“Living on the Outskirts of Society” on Wednesday, April 7, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

■“Housing Within a Corporate Capitalist Society” on Thursday, April 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

■“Resident-Owned Communities: One Housing Answer” on Thursday, April 15, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

■“Community Housing Trusts: The Burlington, Vt. Experience” on Wednesday, April 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

■“Homelessness: Our Housing Crisis and a Call to Action” on Wednesday, April 28, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

■“Reclaiming Municipally-Owned Abandoned Buildings” on Wednesday, May 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

■“How Do We Pay for the Housing We Want” on Wednesday, May 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

■“Achieving Affordability with Clean Energy” on Wednesday, May 19, from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

For information about individual forums or to register, visit housingishumanright.com. Or, contact Worgaftik at suworg1@gmail.com; Brown-Anson at sbrownanson@gmail.com; or Selwyn at dougselwyn@aol.com.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.



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