Executive Director Lauren Koelliker had the opportunity to attend Housing Colorado’s annual conference in Keystone, CO in October. Housing Colorado has a vision that every Coloradan has a safe and quality affordable home in a thriving community, and this conference brings together professionals and industry leaders from across the state and country.

The topics were timely as VHF gears up for the first stage of concept planning at the Wilson property in Gunnison. The conference sessions focused on various themes: advocacy and policy, design and construction, finance, leadership and organizational development, and property management and resident services. Specific topics ranged from modular homes in mountain communities to using energy credits to decrease costs, and from complex financing tools to trauma-informed design. 

The conference provided ample networking opportunities, as VHF will need the help of experts as we move through the design process. Representatives from the private sector included affordable housing developers, investment bankers and lenders, engineers and builders, nonprofit leaders, diversity specialists, and tax attorneys. The public sector brought the Division of Housing, state and federal policy experts, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, and government grantors and loan officers to discuss funding opportunities. 

Habitat for Humanity International’s first Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Natosha Reid Rice, was the keynote speaker and used a metaphor of an airplane to remind us that our survival depends on the survival of others, just like our ability to thrive depends on other’s ability to thrive. When you get on an airplane, you are surrounded by hundreds of people from all walks of life. Regardless of who they are, you want every single passenger to make it through the flight, because if they don’t, that means you don’t either! This same idea can be applied to both our local community and our nation as a whole. Regardless of someone’s background, it’s important that we lift each other up to succeed, because our own success is heightened by the success of others.