“Get close to the issue.” ~ Sunanda Charles, panelist
More than 60 community members filled the room during this week’s Code Blue Forum. I thought the event was civil and thought-provoking. My sincere gratitude goes out to our volunteers, the panelists, and all who attended during an actual county-declared “code blue” December night.
From left: Sunanda Charles, Rev. Alex Evangelista, Kelly Horvat, Tom Niahos.
What actions do we take from here? We need tremendous urgency, while also keeping an eye on the “long game” of zoning and regulatory changes.
It is possible to hold these two seemingly contradictory thoughts at once:
Without true buy-in and engagement from those in “power,” the necessary structural changes and dollar commitments will never be realized to ameliorate homelessness in Montgomery County. It should be noted that Pottstown Council had a business meeting on the same night, so none of their members could attend.
We, the citizens and voters, have tremendous potential to effectuate change – especially when it comes to “Yimby” (Yes in my backyard) and the necessary conversations to help our neighbors see our housing crisis in a new way and with fresh compassion.
I compiled a few takeaways and state/local policies during our forum:
My suggestion if you have the time to get involved: Pick one or two of these issues and start the work. Montco 30% Project has suggested resources to get you started.
In closing, in terms of policy work, nothing sounds wonkier and more boring – yet is incredibly impactful when it comes to the availability of housing we can afford – than Comprehensive Plan Updates. These documents outline the future goals and development of Montgomery County’s 62 municipalities, usually every 10 years or so. Some townships and boroughs are part of regional planning committees, such as the Central Perkiomen Valley Regional Planning Commission, which includes Collegeville, Perkiomen, Schwenksville, Trappe, and both Fredericks. The Pottstown area has a similar group.
Join me at one of their upcoming meetings. March is expected to be the housing discussion at CPVRPC, while January is about open space. Elsewhere in the county, Chelthenham and Lower Gwynedd townships are both in the process of updating their comprehensive plans.