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To paraphrase Jane Jacobs, an Urban Theorist;

"Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody only because, and only when they are created by everyone for anyone"

Sustainable urbanism is not regarded as a priority for those who make its policies, and subsequently, it's not met with the level of urgency. The conversations held at the kitchen table about the financial and sociological struggle to obtain and maintaining affordable living is drowned out by the decisions made by policymakers behind closed doors and in empty lectures halls. There's a growing gap between the needs of the community and public housing authorities. ARC+ with the help of the buildgreen initiative is bridging that gap.

ARC+ NextGen event, held on Friday September 22nd, was one in a series of panel discussions about affordable housing, building green, and sustainable urbanism. Short of politicians, ARC+ invited speakers from all sectors of the housing community.  

Avra Jain, Hernan Guerrero, Marcello Fernandes, Dirk Spiers, James Carras, and Margi Nothard made up the panel, that's was hosted and moderated by Peter Licavoli ARC+'s executive director. Each speaker spoke from their area of expertise regarding issues of sustainability.

The frustration echoed throughout the night, involved issues that dealt with the bureaucracy of building affordable homes. Building codes, zoning, and funding all act as roadblocks; it's more than disheartening to know that what stands in the way of helping others is paperwork and policy.

Another topic of discussion, was the way in which affordable housing is built. Although inadequate plumbing, heating, and electrical wiring are all issues within themselves, the speakers touched upon affordable homes aesthetics. The quintessential picture of the "projects" seems to be the omnipresent building in the bad part of town. Designer Margi Northard, shared her thoughts and experience with building homes that are equal parts affordable, sustainable, and beautiful. Her efforts to break the mold sets the standard for other designers and developers to build homes instead of housing.

 Hernan Guerrero speaking passionately about affordable housing solutions.

Hernan Guerrero speaking passionately about affordable housing solutions.

Despite some of the more frustrating revelations discussed over the course of the night, the takeaway was quite positive. There was a renewed sense of purpose in the audience, people were on their feet, engaged and ready to take action.
As the the conversation came to a close and the event wrapped up, the message that seemed to resonate with me the most was the final words said by the moderator; "If we move together, we move faster".

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Article by Ajaj Thompson - In collaboration with the FIU BOLD agency

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