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Watauga Housing Forum slated for March and April 2022

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Last Updated on February 21, 2022 4:14 pm

Building a Resilient and Thriving Community for All
March 14, March 28, April 11, April 25

Recognizing the growing concerns around housing in Watauga County, a diverse group of community members and key agencies are hosting a four-session series to discuss the safety, accessibility, and affordability of housing in Watauga.

Each session will feature community members sharing their personal housing experiences, will review key local housing data among participants, and will involve the community in brainstorming, discussing, and planning action steps.

In order to provide adequate time to explore and discuss each specific housing issue, forum sessions will be held every two weeks, beginning at 5:30 p.m., to allow for anyone in the community to participate. The Watauga Housing Forum will take place on the second and fourth Mondays in March and April with a different focus during each session. The schedule is as follows: March 14, Safety of Housing; March 28 Accessibility of Housing; April 11, Affordability of Housing and April 25, Potential Solutions.

“The conversation around housing related issues has been going on for decades in Watauga County, and its impacts can be felt across the vast majority of our socio-economic landscape,” states David Jackson, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “Simply said, it should be easier to live and thrive in this community.

Continues Jackson, “Many leaders have worked at this over time with the best of intentions, only to find the roadblocks too challenging to overcome. What excites me most about where we are now is that this conversation is not being driven by any one group, rather a collaboration of families, students, thought leaders, government officials, and concerned citizens. Kellie Reed Ashcraft has done an amazing job bringing together a couple of dozen groups that were all trying to tackle the same problem.”

The collaboration includes AppHealthCare, Q’Pasa Appalachia, Hospitality House of Northwest N.C., Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, Watauga County Schools, Western Youth Network, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Boone Fair Housing Task Force, Hunger and Health Coalition, The Children’s Playhouse, Watauga County Parks and Recreation, The Mediation and Restorative Justice Center, W.A.M.Y., WCCI – Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative, Watauga Habitat for Humanity and The Children’s Council.

“I have been a community member and community-practice social worker for twenty-three years and have had the privilege of working with many diverse organizations and staff over those years on different issues,” states series facilitator Kellie Reed Ashcraft. “I have always been proud of the collaborative nature of our community. Even so, I have never been more excited than I am now with the power of so many factions coming together to make a very real difference when it comes to the ‘wicked problem’ of housing.”

“Safe, healthy, and affordable housing is essential for a high quality community to thrive,” adds Watauga County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Scott Elliott. “This Forum brings together all the different perspectives essential to understanding our needs and finding creative and sustainable solutions.”

Anyone who is concerned or curious about housing is encouraged to attend either in-person or virtually. The sessions will be held at the Watauga Community Recreation Center and will be streamed live via Zoom for virtual attendees.

There is no charge to attend; however, in order to prepare adequate space both in-person and virtually, registration is required. Registration is now open at wataugahousingforum.org
and individual registrations are necessary for each of the four unique sessions.

For those attending in-person a light box dinner from F.A.R.M. Café will be provided. Additionally, concessions will be open at the Recreation Center with snacks, candy, and soda available for purchase. In-person attendees will be required to show proof of up-to-date vaccination status, including the booster, and must wear a provided KN95 mask at all times when not eating or drinking. Anyone uncomfortable attending in person is strongly encouraged to register and attend virtually.

For local businesses and organizations looking to get involved, sponsorship opportunities exist to help underwrite the cost of the dinners. Sponsorships are 100% tax deductible and can be made at wataugahousingforum.org or by texting WHF to (828) 332-5488. For additional information about sponsorship opportunities please email Hospitality House of Northwest N.C. chief director of development Todd Carter at todd@hosphouse.org

Reed Ashcraft adds, “We have amazing community assets, deep relationships, and the long-term commitment of many here in the community to create transformative and lasting change related to housing for all of our residents–this truly will lead to a more resilient, vibrant and thriving community!”

For additional inquiries or information, please email Kellie Reed Ashcraft at kellie@wataugahousingforum.org

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