The city of Norfolk and Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia hosted the 4th annual regional “Aging in Place” conference at Norfolk Waterside Marriott on Friday, October 29, 2010. This year, transportation and housing were the focus of the conference. Norfolk City Councilman Paul Riddick provided the opening remarks and Thelma Drake—Director of Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT)—proved the keynote address.
At the all-day event citizens and representatives from local governments, non-profits, and businesses heard presentations from local, state, and national experts in aging, housing, and transportation:
• Barbara Barnes, Director of Special Projects at the Virginia Community Development Corporation, discussed tax credits for the construction of affordable housing.
• Dr. William Fuller, Housing Initiatives Officer of the Virginia Housing Development Authority, discussed tax credits for the modification of houses for persons with disabilities. He predicted that large houses built recently far from city centers will be unaffordable to the next generation’s middle class, and will therefore be subdivided into apartments for the poor.
• Joshua Gemerek, Senior Vice President of Housing at Bay Aging, discussed senior housing which his agency has built on the Middle Peninsula, including architecture designed to blend in with the rural area.
• John Kownack, Chief Housing Reinvention Officer for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), discussed public housing owned by NRHA and vouchers for private housing distributed by NRHA.
• Camelia Ravanbakht, Deputy Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO), served on the Transportation Panel convened in the afternoon. The HRTPO allocates federal funds to transportation projects, including public transit, and has published eight reports aimed at improving the mobility of non-drivers.
• Sharon Shoff, Director of Rental Housing & Support Services for the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation, discussed the variety of projects owned by her non-profit organization set up by the City of Virginia Beach.
• Helen Hayes Sommer, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads, discussed the houses built by her agency. Due to the contribution of materials and labor, her agency can sell a three bedroom house to a family in need, costing the new owners only $750/month in mortgage expenses including taxes and insurance.
Following these presentations, the audience was provided the opportunity to pose questions to the presenters.