In recent community surveys and at local government meetings, Moabites have made it clear that the community is suffering from a lack of affordable housing. The Moab Area Housing Task Force, a voluntary body of community members that lobbies for fair housing opportunities in the area, wants to give business owners, residents, and local government officials the chance to discuss affordable housing solutions at a Housing Fair on Dec. 5.
“Housing is the biggest concern for almost any Moabite you ask,” said task force chair Laura Harris. “But I think many folks don’t know exactly what all the work is that’s being put in right now. We want to invite community members who might have questions like, ‘How do I obtain affordable housing, and what’s happening to help me with that?’”
The fair will help answer those questions, but is also meant to be a celebration of the work that is being done, Harris said: In addition to discussions and presentations, there will be food and giveaways at the event.
The fair will be split into three sections. The first section—from 4 to 5 p.m.—is aimed at business owners and employers, and will feature a roundtable discussion about affordable housing for employees. Harris said the task force is inviting employers who may be interested in developing workforce housing and also employers who have already created successful places for their employees to live.
“We also want to discuss the challenges and potential shortfalls of employee housing: It can be really hard for employers and employees alike if there’s an employee who maybe isn’t doing great at their job, but they have to stay because that’s their only home,” Harris said.
After the employer discussion, the fair will open up to community members. From 5 to 5:30 p.m., community members will be led through an exercise to review and give feedback on the recently updated Action Plan of the Moab Area Affordable Housing Plan—participants will be able to rank which parts of the plan they find most important or most pressing.
“I think that’ll really help open the conversation about affordability in our community,” Harris said. “The Housing Plan gets adopted by both the city and the county, and so they’ll reference it in their decision-making—it’ll outline what specific actions we feel are most important in the community to increase affordability.”
The fair will round out with an hour-long window for presentations from city and county staff about current affordable housing projects, with the opportunity for participants to ask questions.
“It’ll be a great place to start conversations with your local government, and have an opportunity to be face to face with your county commission and your city council to voice what’s important,” Harris said.
The fair is funded through a grant from the Grand County Economic Development Department, which saw a “need for a way to bring the community together for increased awareness and education,” about housing issues, Harris said.
“This kickoff event is for members of the greater community who want to get engaged and have a voice in how we can improve affordable housing, but it’s also for people who just want to learn,” she said.
There will also be two other housing sessions in January and February, which will narrow in on specific communities: the first of those sessions, in January, will be held in the middle school and will be aimed at families.
The Housing Fair will take place on Monday, Dec. 5 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the MARC (111 E. 100 N.).