As you’ve probably noticed, Housing Solutions Network has launched a county-wide campaign to encourage and support people with housing resources to “share our spaces” so the whole …
As you’ve probably noticed, Housing Solutions Network has launched a county-wide campaign to encourage and support people with housing resources to “share our spaces” so the whole community can thrive.
Each member of the creative team behind Share Our Spaces was hired for the professional capacities they have brought, yet the feeling and intention behind this work have turned out to be quite personal. The professionals doing the graphic design, video production, coordination, and message creation, are all — coincidentally — folks who grew up in Jefferson County. We each left the area to gain skills and perspective, and returned as adults. Our connections to this place, and the people who make it feel like home, have informed our work on this campaign in many ways.
The solutions we are highlighting in Share Our Spaces, aiming to open up new units of housing in the immediate and near term, are already solutions that are being used to provide affordable housing to the communities of people we are part of, including ourselves. We were already planning to promote building and renting out Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), for instance, when we realized that four of the five of us actually live in ADUs!
In our social and professional lives we are each embedded in different communities of people who are also living in ADUs, or who home-share, or who are leasing land and living in tiny homes. We have all witnessed the power of word-of-mouth networks for securing housing, which is part of what inspired the Housing Link online bulletin board.
We also are intimately familiar with the sight of darkened houses and empty ADUs, unused housing resources that feel intrinsically connected to the sense of loss we experience as we witness our peers struggle to secure decent and affordable places to live (and as we try to imagine how we will eventually live in something more than an ADU!). The Share Our Spaces campaign is an expression of this deeply personal way we each relate to the housing crisis.
This campaign is also asking its audience, our broader community, to think about the housing crisis in a much more personal way. Sharing our spaces is foreign and scary to some, since most of us have been raised to prioritize privacy and we have deep cultural attachments to ownership.
However, in listening to the stories of those who are actively engaged in home-sharing or renting out ADUs on their property, it has evoked a different message; that of community, safety, and friendship.
People who are considering sharing their spaces will face different hurdles, from the time consuming process of building an ADU to the emotionally consuming process of finding the right housemate.
We know that what we are asking is not easy. But we hope that enough people will be inspired by our message, empowered by our resources, and find assistance from our volunteers and staff that we can undertake this personal and physical work to not just open up new units of housing, but to enrich ourselves and our communities through the generous act of sharing.
(Justine Gonzalez-Berg is the Director of Housing Solutions Network and a volunteer board member of Olympic Housing Trust.)
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