MATTHEWS – As CEO of the Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity, Natisha Rivera-Patrick devotes her time to connecting people with decent and affordable housing.
But she recognizes her organization is one piece of the solution when it comes to making Matthews a more affordable place to live.
That’s why she formed the Matthews Affordable Housing Alliance, a group of community partners that will identify and recommend strategies to expand affordable housing opportunities in town.
Rivera-Patrick was part of a Matthews Planning Board committee that studied affordable housing and presented findings and strategies to town commissioners in January 2019.
“Too often, we look for local municipalities to come up with the solutions,” Rivera-Patrick said. “I think when we do that, they are essentially paralyzed. That’s not their everyday thing. That’s not what they do.
“I thought it made sense to put together a group that could come up with those solutions to then work with the towns and municipalities to help implement, scale and replicate because otherwise, we weren’t going to get any traction. Inaction just wasn’t an option because we know this is an ever-growing need.”
The alliance has been meeting for about eight months. Some of the goals outlined by the alliance include dispelling misconceptions about affordable housing; identifying and engaging partners that will build, rehab and preserve housing stock; and creating solutions that include homeownership, repair and rentals.
The alliance includes representatives from active community groups, such as Teishana Brooks and Ben Pinegar of Brace Family YMCA, Sue Sproat of COS Kids, the Rev. Jennifer Ginn of Cross and Crown Lutheran, Sandra Conway of Matthews HELP Center and the Rev. Larry Whitley of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
Marilyn Sczech, who serves on the alliance on behalf of Matthews United Methodist Church, said she was aware of how big an issue affordable housing was nationally, but the study presented to commissioners last year showed her how the problem hit home.
“One of the things we want to do that is particularly important for the Matthews area is to help people realize that workforce housing is an issue,” Sczech said. “Policemen, teachers and nurses have difficulty finding affordable housing in the Matthews area.”
Other members of the alliance include Natasha Edwards, Beverly Elwell, Linda Icard, Kema Kovach, Kerry Lamson, Cherie Little, Kristy Miller and Glenn Wynn.
On the web: www.mat thewsaffordablehousingalliance.org