The Regional Housing Study is well underway, and CSPDC staff in partnership with the Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) have kicked off a series of focus groups and interviews with stakeholders across the region. On August 24th, CSPDC and VCHR staff went to Buena Vista to hold a day of focus groups with realtors, lenders, housing service providers, small, medium, and large employers, and university representatives in Rockbridge County, Buena Vista, and Lexington. During the sessions, staff provided an overview of the study timeline as well as preliminary data findings, and then opened the floor to participants to discuss the major housing-related challenges, barriers, gaps, and opportunities for growth in their area. Common themes included a lack of available housing inventory at all levels, the impact of the student population, opportunities for first-time homebuyers, and potential incentives for affordable housing development. CSPDC and VCHR staff also interviewed several large employers in the region to learn more about the housing needs of their staff.
The CSPDC and VCHR will continue holding focus groups and interviews through September. This qualitative information will compliment the data analysis and provide a regional context for interpreting data. Additionally, staff will continue to engage stakeholders that attended the focus groups by providing frequent updates on the study’s progress and allowing opportunities for stakeholder input.