When I was setting my schedule for the 2017 REALTORS® Conference and Expo, I wanted to focus on attending things that I could actively bring back to our members in Dayton, Ohio.
We recently launched the Southern Ohio Global Alliance, which is a collaborative effort in international real estate education and also working with public and private sector partners on economic development and housing opportunities.
So naturally, when I saw the session on the schedule “Global Cities: The Key Role of Housing,” I jumped at the opportunity to attend this. Thinking that it would be full of case study examples of cities working with different partners on projects, I was actually surprised to realize we were talking the absolute crisis that exists in our world when it comes to affordable and sustainable housing.
Judith Hermanson, the CEO of the International Housing Coalition (now IHC) shared with us that 880 million people currently live in inadequate housing and, by definition, are slum dwellers. Additionally, one in five city dwellers has no access to a safe toilet.
With around 3 million migrants moving to cities each week, adequate housing is now more than a rare commodity. It’s nonexistent. The World Bank predicts that housing will impact 1.6 billion people in the next decade.
But the physical lack of housing looks different in different areas. Domestically here in America, it could be in areas with high eviction rates, areas with a food insecurity (lack of local grocery stores), and poor community control.
The point we are stressing to our members in Dayton, Ohio is that stronger communities lead to economic development opportunities. When investors and site selectors can see that communities are strong, thriving and investing in themselves, they too want to be a part of the renaissance.
On a global scale, there is much work to be done to deal with the “Urban Tsunami” as one of the speakers referred to it as. The United Nations has a worksheet of “Sustainable Development Goals” which is the checklist for any decision being made about ending poverty and housing insecurity.
I am glad that the National Association of REALTORS® is having conversations like these. So many times we focus too much on transactions, and not about the bigger picture of “housing” as a whole. Under all things is the land.