By Sam Elliott
Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development is planning its first Neighborhoods NOW conference, bringing together housing experts and community leaders with the goal of determining the best practices of community development for Indianapolis’ metropolitan areas.
The conference was born out of a 2013 needs assessment survey that looked at housing issues throughout the county at the city, town and township levels.
“We looked at all these issues and pulled together a lot of data and information,” HAND Executive Director Nate Lichti said. “We found a lot of stakeholders that had common interests or concerns about similar things.”
Through discussions with more than 30 stakeholder groups and survey responses from more than 600 participants, HAND organized the county’s housing issues into four primary themes: affordability; growth and opportunities to support families; baby boomers and senior housing needs; and neighborhood development.
“We thought it would be really helpful to kind of raise awareness about these issues and kind of conceived [the conference]as a ‘base camp’ where we’re trying to organize and get people together to help define what some of the solutions are,” Lichti said. “That effort takes a lot of work, so before we actually take on a public policy campaign or try to shift some legislators or policy makers to do something, we really need to kind of gain a sense of what the issues are and what solutions fit best for our local circumstances.”
HAND’s gathering will take place Nov. 10 at the Forum Conference and Events Center in Fishers. Lichti said a lot of diverse groups will be represented, including residents and local leaders, nonprofits, developers, real estate professionals and local legislators and policy makers.
“Hopefully we’ll come out of the conference with a sense of what the next direction would be and what might be the achievable action items we could take,” Lichti said. “The ability for diverse constituents to sit down and talk through the issues and develop trust and relationships — that has long-term potential for major change. Whether or not there’s a singular idea that comes out of the conference, I think it’s more significant to have and build these relationships that can endure and hopefully shift things over the long haul.”
Visit handincorporated.org for more information.
Registration for the conference costs $85 for the entire day and $65 for early registrants. Discounts are available for members of the community who express a need. The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Forum Conference Center, 11313 USA Parkway in Fishers. Sign up online at www.handincorporated.org.