Greater Piedmont Realtors look to help with ‘housing for all’


The Greater Piedmont Realtors are stressing “housing for all.”

At their conference April 16, GPR President, Philip L. Thornton, IV explained the new initiative  to help residents find affordable, accessible, sustainable housing throughout the region.

“What does housing mean to all of you?” Thornton asked. “That’s why we’re here, to discuss that idea.”

“Our goal is to start the conversation and develop a platform for our local and regional decision makers to come together with us and the business community, and other interested stakeholders, around housing policy ideas that will enhance economic development and housing opportunities throughout the Piedmont region,” Thornton said.

Thornton said that the goal of the GPR is that over the coming months to share model ordinance language and fact filled links and information with its members to bring attention to the need for enhanced housing opportunities that will serve everyone in our community.

George Ratui, Managing Director, Housing and Commercial Research, National Association of Realtors, talked about the changes the real estate industry and America has faced.

“One good change for the U.S. for the last decade has been population growth,” Ratiu said. “Why is this positive? Countries that do not experience population growth have a hard time sustaining growing economies.”

He pointed out that people gravitate toward urban areas, with more than 80 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas, but also pointed out that 64 percent of those live in the suburbs. Despite the belief that the younger generation – millennials – are focused on living in thriving cities – many of them are drawn to suburbs.

“Suburbs are very much alive and suburbs are where a lot of the folks are choosing to live,” Raitu said.

In Culpeper County, growth has been steady – with the county growing 45 percent from 2000-2016 and 172 percent from 1970 to 2016.

That growth leads to more jobs, which means more citizens needs homes. That’s where housing for all comes to play.

Mark Calabria, assistant to Vice President Mike Pence and Chief Economist, executive office of the Vice President, a Fauquier County native and Fauquier High School graduate, talked about how job growth has driven real estate. He praised the current administration’s efforts to create jobs and mentioned that there have been 3 million jobs created since the last election.

Fundamentally housing markets are ultimately tied to job markets, he explained, noting that from the end of 2009 until the 2016 election the net job growth for those with a high school degree or less was basically zero.

Now, one out of four new jobs has been for lower skilled workers.

“It really does need to be housing for all, for everyone on the income spectrum,” Calabria said. “You should be able to afford to have a place to live, not just for college graduates and Phd’s but for high school graduates, for the blue collar workers.”

Since the election, the U.S. has added 300,000 manufacturing jobs and 340,000 construction jobs.

“So much of the job growth has gone beyond the highly educated,” Calabria said.

Calabria pointed out how certain areas are growing at an accelerated rate, including FAuquier County which had pretty much the same population from 1820 until 1970. From 1970 until now, 35,000 residents have moved to Fauquier County.

“So much of the change in Fauquier and in surrounding counties has been since 1970-1980 and trying to deal with that,” Calabria said. “If you want the jobs, you have to have the housing that goes along with it. You can’t have that growth without having someplace to live.”

The GPR’s next steps will include reaching out to our local county officials to see if they want to explore, or would like our assistance/partnership to help develop language in their housing chapter of their comprehensive plans, or any other areas of their comprehensive plans to address the issue.

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