Building Connections at Louisiana’s First-Ever All-Inclusive Housing Conference

April 4, 2019

The inaugural Connections conference by the Louisiana Housing Corporation is an opportunity to spark new relationships and ideas that will help tackle Louisiana’s complex affordable housing issues, LHC Executive Director Keith Cunningham told a gathering of hundreds of housing professionals in downtown Baton Rouge.

“Through your efforts, your work, your dedication to this, we will begin to solve the housing problems in the state of Louisiana,” Cunningham said in opening remarks before a packed ballroom at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center.

The conference, which kicked off April 2 and runs through April 4, is designed to help elected leaders and housing professionals learn, share and develop affordable housing strategies to build stronger communities across the state.

For communities to be successful, their affordable housing initiatives must go beyond merely putting a roof over someone’s head to incorporate holistic approaches that consider education, health, jobs and transportation opportunities.

Connections is designed to cover all these important topics, while also giving participants the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of professionals from all housing sectors in the state and dive into housing issues from an individual, regional and statewide perspective. It’s also, Cunningham said, an opportunity to raise the profile for important housing issues that are challenging public and private stakeholders in every corner of the state but often don’t get the attention they deserve.

“This moment will make housing matter,” he said. “This moment will be central to our ability to push an agenda that is focused on building communities. This opportunity to engage with advocates, nonprofits, industry professionals, government agencies, municipalities and others will be the chief function that gets us to the goal of addressing affordable housing across the state.”

Building Communities

The conference attracted more than 500 attendees from 50 parishes across Louisiana. “That means that the representation of individuals from rural areas with rural concerns, and urban areas with urban concerns — and every part and parcel in between,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said a primary goal of the LHC and the Connections Conference is to help leverage housing funds and resources in ways that go beyond merely developing affordable housing to support the broader concept of “building communities.”

To that end, he said while community action agencies, municipalities, nonprofits and other stakeholders collectively hold a tremendous amount of capacity and expertise to deal with affordable housing issues, those resources aren’t always linked together in efficient ways.

“That’s why we have the Connections Conference,” he said. “If we have enough people in this room who are concerned about this issue, who have the expertise to address this issue and who have the resources to address this issue, we might solve this problem.”

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