Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

State's Housing Providers to Gather at Conference

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

State's Housing Providers to Gather at Conference

Article excerpt

One percent of West Virginians do not have complete plumbing systems in their homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state's elderly population - those age 65 years and older - was 15 percent in 2000 and is expected to climb to 25 percent over the next 10 years, said Phil Schenk, of the West Virginia Partnership for Elder Living.

Those issues and a vast collection of others surrounding the state of housing in West Virginia will be addressed at the second West Virginia Housing Conference, which begins Tuesday.

"This conference is a way of bringing people that have a lot of differences in their work together, Schenk said. "So, people in housing know there's a lot of issues with elders that need to be addressed, but they don't know how to do that.

The conference provides an opportunity for housing professionals throughout the state to network and learn about each other's work and potentially collaborate in the future. Dozens of sessions on topics ranging from elder housing to veteran homelessness to home construction and financing will be presented, said West Virginia Habitat for Humanity director Lora Pierce.

While West Virginia has one of the highest homeownership rates in the country, Pierce said much of that is substandard. And while 1 percent of the state's population may not seem like much, that amounts to more than 18,000 people without access to complete indoor plumbing.

"I know if you think of world hunger and all those great needs, it may not seem like much, but that's right here in our backyard. That's unacceptable, Pierce said.

Jonathan Reckford, of Habitat for Humanity International, is this year's keynote speaker and will present at the conference on Tuesday.

Pierce said Reckford's knowledge of local housing issues through his work domestically, as well as his experience in housing globally, gives him a lot to offer those attending the conference. …

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