WSU Vancouver to moderate civic conversations on affordable housing

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 3:33pm -- brenda_alling

500,000 Voices logoVANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington State University Vancouver and the Thomas S. Foley Institute’s new Initiative for Public Deliberation, will host six open forums around the region to hear from local residents about the challenges and opportunities related to affordable housing.

The forums seek to build constructive dialogue and community engagement around regional priorities. The selection of affordable housing as the initiative’s first program emerged from the results of the 500,000 Voices project, a survey conducted by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. Seventy-five percent of respondents said working together to solve problems is desirable, but fewer than half expected to see it happen.

Each forum runs two hours. After a brief introduction, participants will be invited to meet in small groups of 8 – 12 to discuss the topic. The groups will be facilitated by student moderators who have been trained in a new WSU Vancouver course, “Civil Discourse in a Time of Incivility” taught by Associate Professor Carolyn Long. The small group discussions are designed to illustrate that there is no “silver bullet” to solve this complex problem.

Long, who directs the initiative, said moderators will keep the discussion focused on specific policy responses and the trade-offs and unintended consequences that result from each specific action. There will also be time for reflection as facilitators try to discover points of common ground and areas where further discussion is necessary.
The options to be discussed include how to incentivize development, how to expand affordable housing and eligibility for assistance, and the reduction of regulatory burdens.

The project culminates in a summary report from the forums that will be made available to the public.

Participants do not need any expertise in the topic, and Long said it is important that a diversity of interests be represented at the forums.  Registration is required. Visit and indicate which of the following forums you wish to attend:

Battle Ground
10 a.m. – noon March 24, Battle Ground Community Center

5 – 7 p.m. March 25, Mark Morris High School

2 – 4 p.m. March 26, WSU Vancouver, Dengerink Administration Building, Rooms 129/130
5 – 7 p.m. April 2, Clark College, Gaiser Hall

5 – 7 p.m. March 31, Camas High School

5 – 7 p.m. April 1, Stevenson High School

The Institute for Public Deliberation is a joint venture of the WSU Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service and WSU Vancouver. Its mission is to promote development of a vibrant, deliberative democracy in Southwest Washington and provide public space for discussing community values and beliefs as related to local, state and national issues.

Sponsors for this 500,000 Voices project are Clark College, The Columbian, Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, Identity Clark County and WSU Vancouver.

About WSU Vancouver
WSU Vancouver is celebrating 25 years of creating access to higher education in Southwest Washington. For 25 years, students have chosen WSU Vancouver for its scenic campus, small classes, close personal attention, topnotch faculty, accessible location and reasonable costs. Here, students gain much more than a degree—they gain a brighter future.

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Brenda Alling, Office of Marketing and Communications, 360-546-9601,

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