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Today’s problems, tomorrow’s solutions

One of the things we have learned during the pandemic is that “a home isn’t just a roof over your head, although it certainly is important to have a roof over your head. It is also an office. It’s a classroom. It’s a place where you meet your doctor,” said housing industry veteran and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, Jr. Graves gave the keynote address at NHC’s Policy Symposium on Technology and Housing. “Regional economic transformation includes making better decisions about the development of and access to quality affordable housing.” An important component of successful economic transformation is $1.5 billion for broadband in President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The affordable housing crisis is worsening as housing costs rise and production is stifled, especially for communities of color who have not recovered from the devastation of the Great Recession, compounding over a century of housing discrimination. Embracing innovation and technology across the industry will play an important role in addressing these challenges.

Panel discussions with a wide range of housing experts focused on three topics: Innovations in Production, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Future of Housing Equity, and Expanding Broadband Access. Experts from each facet of the industry explored the role that technology has played in each policy area and how technology can move us towards progress.

The Innovations in Production panel featured discussions on increasing the housing stock through creative policy solutions, reducing the time and cost of construction, and the new opportunities of manufactured housing and off-site construction.

Panelists on AI & the Future of Housing Equity discussed traditional credit scoring and the value of data in finding new ways to define mortgage-ready borrowers and increase access to credit for traditionally underserved groups.

Finally, a diverse group of broadband advocates and providers examined the critical need for broadband and high-speed internet in a post-COVID world where the digital divide is more impactful than ever.

Appreciating the traditional aspects of homeownership doesn’t have to mean living in the past. It is imperative to remember the roots of our ambitions for homeownership when leveraging new technology. During the symposium, one theme was woven throughout the panels: remembering that technology impacts real people. Production, AI, and broadband all seek to provide a more equitable housing environment for families and individuals who deserve a place to call home. Technology itself can be intimidating for a well-established industry, but we cannot resolve today’s housing problems with yesterday’s solutions.

A future-facing technology landscape will integrate these building blocks for communities in a way that spurs efficient, more equitable development. NHC, the researchers and thought leaders on our panels, and other experts are helping us to get there. We need only to uphold our commitment to collaboration to find the best path forward. Thank you to everyone who participated in the technology and housing symposium, and to those of you who joined us for the event. We look forward to seeing where technology takes us next.

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