Roanoke Regional Housing Network to host Housing Symposium

By Debbie Adams

The Roanoke Regional Housing Network (RRHN) will be hosting its bi-annual 2021 Housing Symposium “The Pulse of the Region” on Thursday, May 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year’s symposium will be virtual, presented by Virginia Housing. Vinton Principal Planner Nathan McClung is assisting with planning for the symposium.

This symposium will be of interest to the general public–for people of all different backgrounds and professions–especially because the topics will cover both the national and regional housing market, affordability in the region, local health initiatives, and COVID-19’s impact on affordable housing in the region as well.

The keynote address, scheduled for 9 a.m., entitled “Housing Headwinds in 2021,” will be presented by Dr. Robert Dietz. He is one of the country’s leading analysts of the residential construction industry.

Dietz is the Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders, where he leads a team of 12 economists whose responsibilities include forecasts of housing and economic trends, survey research, and home building industry and policy analysis. He has published academic research on the private and social benefits of homeownership, federal tax expenditure estimation, and other housing topics.

The symposium will also include two diverse panels of professionals from various backgrounds and industries, covering topics such as affordable housing and health, COVID-19 and affordable housing, and many subtopics including the impact of COVID on different ethnic groups, accessibility, the new Carilion project, etc.

The first panel on “Affordable Housing and Health” will include panelists Vanessa Briggs, a renowned leader in the field of public health from the Brandywine Foundation, Andy Kegley Executive Director of Helping Overcome Poverty’s Existence (H.O.P.E.) Inc, David Prosser Senior Vice President of Community Development from Freedom First Credit Union, and Molly Roberts, Community Benefit Manager from Carilion Clinic. Ellie Rigby will be the moderator.

The second panel on “COVID and Affordable Housing” will include Mel Jones, Research Scientist and Associate Director of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, Johnathan Knopf, Senior Research Associate at HousingForward Virginia, and Maria Saxton, Environmental Planner and Housing Researcher, Hill Studio, Founder of NANO–Tiny Life Innovators. Andrew McCoy, Professor and Director of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, will be the moderator.

For more information on the event’s schedule and the featured panelists visit: To register, visit

The deadline for registration is Monday, May 3, at 11:59 p.m. The fee for this year’s virtual Housing Symposium is $15.

Virginia Housing was created in 1972 by the General Assembly to help Virginians attain quality, affordable housing. They carry out this mission by working in public-private partnerships with local governments, community service organizations, lenders, realtors, developers and many others. Their belief is “when homes are affordable and accessible to jobs, good schools and transportation, everyone benefits. Individual lives are improved and communities as a whole grow stronger.”

Virginia Housing provides mortgages for first-time homebuyers, as well as financing for apartment communities and neighborhood revitalization efforts. They offer free homebuyer classes, support housing counseling, and help people with disabilities and the elderly make their homes more livable.

They also administer the federal Housing Choice Voucher and Housing Credit programs in Virginia. Virginia Housing is self-supporting and receives no state taxpayer dollars to fund their programs. Instead, they raise money in the capital markets, and contribute a significant portion of their net revenues each year to help meet Virginia’s most difficult housing needs.

The Roanoke Regional Housing Network, a standing Committee of the Council of Community Services, is a diverse group of people and organizations interested and involved in issues related to housing. The mission of RRHN is to provide a forum for the region’s housing interests to become proactively involved with housing issues.

RRHN members include financial agency representatives, nonprofit housing providers, local government policymakers, business leaders and developers, local neighborhood association representatives, government agency staff, and college/university students and faculty.

RRHN was created in the 1990s to offer community leaders the opportunity to work together, explore ideas and develop solutions to housing issues facing the region. Members of RRHN meet monthly to share information, identify current issues, and seek ways to work together to resolve housing problems facing our region.

Housing issues in the Roanoke Valley are complex and touch every aspect of our society. Affordable housing, low-moderate income housing, multi-family dwellings, green housing, historic preservation, aging housing stock, and continuing demand for homeless services are but a few of the issues facing leaders and citizens in the Roanoke Valley. RRHN members collaborate directly and indirectly on all of these issues.



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