The start of 2020 has seen a number of events aimed at highlighting Harrisonburg’s housing and homelessness challenges. The Point in Time Count in January provides the necessary data that helps inform our region on who is experiencing homelessness. On February 6, Asbury Methodist hosted “Disrupting Poverty in Harrisonburg’. The eventfeatured speakers from local agencies, including HRHA, who work and advocate in this space. HRHA’s Executive Director Michael Wong spoke about the rent burden experienced by around 50% of Harrisonburg residents and the challenging rental market. Wong as well as Shannon Porter of Mercy House, Sam Nickels of OCP, and Adam Blagg with Faith in Action spoke to a variety of systemic issues that drive this challenge. You can check out an overview of the event on WHSV’s website.
Last week JMU held a “Hacking Housing Insecurity” mini conference to drive conversations on affordable housing challenges. Faith in Action, a local coalition of congregations, the Islamic center, and synagogue, continues to work on affordable housing as their issue of focus for 2019/2020. Harrisonburg city and Rockingham continue conversations about homelessness and affordable housing challenges in our region.
Housing is at the core of many of the challenges our community faces. We are encouraged by the work individuals, faith communities, non-profits, and government are doing to pursue safe, sustainable, and affordable housing.