Habitat for Humanity: The art of leaning in | VailDaily.com

Habitat for Humanity: The art of leaning in

Elyse Howard
Habitat for Humanity
Elyse Howard

At the State of the Valley, hosted by the Vail Symposium last month, local leaders shared their visions, plans, opportunities and road blocks. Even though the speakers were from different industries with varied focuses, they shared commonalities. The consistent message was that we live in an amazing place, are getting better at working together but, as always, there is more work to be done.

Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll, Beaver Creek Resort COO Nadia Guerriero, Vail Health CEO Will Cook and Eagle County School District Superintendent Phil Qualman shared the stage, shared what’s working and what needs work — and how, together, strides are being made.

There is tremendous momentum with public-private partnerships and leaders are leaning in. Everything is tied together in a community and housing feels like the foundation of it all.

Not coincidently, Eagle County is about 6,000 housing units short. Guess what? Businesses are short-staffed by about 3,500 jobs.

What feels different than in the past, though, is that many organizations are working together to find permanent solutions that will positively impact the quality of life for many in Eagle County.

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Finally, there is a willingness to do the heavy lifting together. Organizations have shifted from talking about doing something to doing something about the housing crisis.

Housing is the lynchpin for a successful community. When people can’t afford to live where they work, we all lose. The community feels the reverberations of lack of housing, whether it’s a restaurant that has shortened hours or a classroom with too many students. What makes a world-class resort? We believe all the entities working together to find solutions for essential workers along the housing continuum.

What can we do? We will continue to work together: local governments, businesses and nonprofits often have the same goals and different ways to find the solutions. Instead of working in a vacuum, we’re better able to identify what we each do best and capitalize on that.

We feel like our recent partnership with Eagle County School District, land donor; town of Eagle, fee waiver; and Eagle County government, subsidy provider, is a win-win-win. Not one organization can “take” credit, instead we are all working together to lift up future homeowners with a 16-home project on Eagle’s Third Street. Other organizations are researching similar types of partnerships to house employees where they can build a life, a career and a future.

Prop 123

Individually, we are making strides and creating change as well. We were thrilled to learn Proposition 123 passed. It increases funding along the housing continuum without raising taxes. This supply of funding is life-changing for thousands across the state. Entities will have the chance to work together to expand homeownership opportunities for the workforce, help renters build wealth to become homeowners and increase the capacity of local governments to review and approve affordable homes.

We are thankful for the hard work put in by our local, state and federal leaders. We are optimistic the funds from Prop 123 will have positive effects here in Eagle County: We are building 24 homes next year, up from our on-average eight annually. By 2024, we are committed to building 40 homes in partnership with locals. Every dollar counts when it comes to building strong foundations We are rolling up our sleeves, with our partners, to be hope and home builders. Join us.

Join us on Dec. 18 when we welcome eight families home at Stratton Flats in Gypsum.

Elyse Howard is the director of development at Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. She is involved with advocacy efforts across the state to help increase access to affordable housing. Learn more about Habitat Vail Valley at HabitatVailValley.org.

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