Methow Valley Long Term Recovery (MVLTR) will partner with several other local organizations in hosting a community “listening session” on May 19 to discuss an effort to provide affordable housing in the valley.

The meeting will be from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Methow Valley Senior Center in Twisp.

Housing affordability and availability are the focus of a project being launched this month by MVLTR, with support from a coalition of project partners including Room One, The Cove, the Methow Conservancy, TwispWorks, and the Winthrop and Twisp chambers of commerce.

At the May 19 meeting, residents can learn about the project and give input to help shape the future of housing in the Methow Valley.

MVLTR has contracted with housing consultants Julie Brunner and Associates to conduct the housing affordability and availability needs assessment, working with a diverse steering committee, focus groups and key informants to develop recommendations for local action, according to a press release. Brunner and her team have extensive experience helping communities turn their housing challenges into success stories.

“Housing affordability and availability have been identified by our community as a top priority since the loss of housing due to wildfire in 2014 and 2015,” said Jason Paulsen, volunteer president of MVLTR. “From this community needs assessment, we hope to identify strategies to ensure there is available and affordable housing for all residents of the Methow Valley and find a way to carry this issue forward into the future.”

Concerns around housing featured prominently during a series of economic development focus groups led over the past year by TwispWorks and the chambers of commerce.

“It came through loud and clear that our business community understands that housing availability and affordability impact their ability to retain and attract employees,” said David Gottula, president of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce. “I’m excited to see this issue being embraced not only as a social service issue, but as one that will impact our community in other ways into the future if we don’t respond proactively as a community.”

Brunner and her team will collect data and conduct interviews and focus groups during visits to the Methow Valley this summer, with a goal of sharing the assessment results and an action plan shaped by the community later this fall.

“We look forward to having a diverse group of participants at the meeting on May 19 and welcome all who have an interest in housing in the Methow Valley to join us,” Paulsen said.

For more information, contact Paulsen at 996-5866 or jason@methowconservancy.org.