SXSW leona

This blog is written by one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County.

Yesterday, I attended a session titled “The Case for Innovation in U.S. Housing” which was a panel discussion presented by Sean Dobson of Amherst Holdings, Jay Hartzell of UT MCCombs School of Business, Jonathan Lawless of Fannie Mae and Nela Richardson of Redfin.

Panelist discussed some of the challenges that have plagued this market over the decades. While the housing market is huge, at about $35 trillion in size, it is slow, expensive and worst of all, for years it has been stagnant.

Leona Smith

Leona Smith.

In most cases, people want to be able to buy a home where they work, but that is becoming increasingly harder nationally. Across the country, median sale price has gone up on average 10 percent from last year.

And as I’m sure you can guess, wages are not increasing at that same pace.

It’s no secret to anyone who’s paying attention, there hasn’t been any significant residential housing development in Mansfield, or Richland County for that matter, in recent years. In fact, while I was participating in Leadership Unlimited (class of 2017), Tim Bowersock, the City of Mansfield's economic development director informed us there were no current plans then to develop any new housing to meet the need.

It leaves me with questions such as: With an aging housing stock adding to an already low inventory, how do we increase access to homes? What type of housing is conducive to the community we want here in Mansfield?

I think there is merit to the traditional housing styles we’ve seen over the past century or so, but I also think we would be remiss not to explore alternative options that may provide a more efficient or appropriate fit for our population and resources. This might include tiny homes, modular homes or other types.

My millennial brain will go way outside the box, but I’m anxious to hear from residents and stakeholders of this community about the types of housing they’d like to see developed and that they are willing to invest in to stay in this area.

Stay tuned and follow the process via #SXSW419. Or watch for more blogs starting Saturday, March 10 at  

This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: Spherion, Visiting Nurses Association, PR Machine Works, Nanogate/Jay Systems, DRM Productions, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, Area Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source click the "About Solutions Journalism."

South by Southwest Conference Blogger

Executive Coordinator at the North End Community Improvement Collaborative and Temp2Higher. NECIC’s focus is to improve the economic landscape of the North End community while Temp2Higher is an alternative staffing organization.

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