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Public Voices for Housing Choices

Report by Viewpoint Learning, Inc. on the “Public Voices for Housing Choices” online dialogue.

From the report:

For 10 days in May 2008, hundreds of people who live and/or work in San Mateo County participated in an on-line dialogue about the housing and transportation challenges facing the region. This dialogue, called “Public Voices for Housing Choices” (PVHC) was advertised through local newspapers, promoted to email lists and housing organizations and to the “person on the street.” Because the entire PVHC dialogue was publicly available, more San Mateans were able to follow along as participants worked through the tradeoffs involved in proposed solutions to the high cost and low affordability of housing.

Over two weeks, the PVHC participants worked in small groups using an on-line platform called “Small Group Dialogue.” This platform has been used successfully around many complex issues – including the redevelopment of Ground Zero in New York City, interracial relationships and marriage, and President Clinton’s impeachment.

The report concludes:

Active participants in the dialogue expressed their appreciation for the forum, some degree of surprise that the issue was as complex as they had learned it was, and a strong desire for continued venues for public engagement around the issue of housing. Some felt they would look at issues of housing and new development differently than they had before, for example, considering the needs of the larger community, paying more attention to infrastructure impacts or being more open to a wider range of housing choices.

According to the report, the number of participants totaled 552.

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