Coordinated approach better serves housing effort

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Coordinated approach better serves housing effort

Published Saturday, February 16, 2013   |  331 Words  |  

The city of Beaufort's Redevelopment Commission is smart to bring together local housing agencies and building organizations to identify opportunities for new construction and growth.

This arrangement, discussed in detail at its Feb. 7 meeting, should also lead to wiser use of money -- whether public funds, private investment or charitable donations -- needed to take advantage of such opportunities.

"We have so many people doing so many things, and they're all related to each other, but none of them are connected," commission member Wendy Zara said during a recent meeting.

The Historic Beaufort Foundation, Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity and the Lowcountry Housing Trust and the Beaufort Housing Authority are working with the Redevelopment Commission to make those connections, which could include collaboration on specific projects.

Toward that end, the organizations are mapping their plans to see whether there are geographical areas begging for their concerted effort.

The result could be a conspicuous, large-scale redevelopment of several city blocks, executed with efficiency. But the arrangement is just as likely to result in efficiencies that are less obvious, but no less important. Organizations that often are stretched thin, even in better times than these, could benefit from not duplicating the effort of others.

In addition, since these organizations deal in problems that are related but not identical, each has developed its own expertise -- expertise that might, from time to time, be useful to its partners.

Case in point: The town of Bluffton's effort to put residents in Wharf Street affordable housing project might have been accomplished more quickly and more smoothly had its partnership with Habitat for Humanity not fallen apart in the project's nascent stages. Town officials had to re-create the wheel, particularly in identifying and qualifying potential home buyers.

There is no need for the city of Beaufort to repeat such mistakes, and with this collaboration, the Redevelopment Commission seems to agree.