August Happy Hour with special guest Dennis Madsen, Huntsville’s Manager of Urban & Long-Range Planning

A mere two months after our very-first happy hour, the Huntsville New Liberals are hosting our very first expert speaker! 

Dennis Madsen, Huntsville’s Manager of Urban & Long-Range Planning

Dennis Madsen, Manager of Urban & Long-Range Planning at the City of Huntsville is gracing us with his presence to talk about what’s happening at the Huntsville Housing Authority and how you can help! Dennis is the brains behind Big Picture Huntsville, the City of Huntsville’s comprehensive master plan. Dennis and his site are chock-full of incredible urbanist ideas, including designing streets for easier and safer walking and biking and vastly increasing mass transit access.

This talk will focus on a topic that’s become especially salient as Huntsville’s rents have skyrocketed over the past few years – homelessness

According to one annual survey, at least 536 Huntsvillians are currently unhoused, with hundreds more in the Metro area.

Criminalizing homelessness and clearing encampments only exacerbate the problem.  

Earlier this year, the City of Huntsville committed to allocate nearly $364K in emergency funds to eight organizations to help alleviate homelessness. People are hosting fundraisers and starting organizations like Love Huntsville to help. 

Because our housing stock hasn’t kept pace with population growth, housing costs have skyrocketed. If housing costs keep rising, more people will become homeless every day as more and more Huntsvillians get priced out. Expensive housing creates homelessness

The only long-term solution to homelessness is more homes.

Comparing the new housing development pipeline to projected population growth, Huntsville’s housing costs may stabilize within the next few years. If so, our homelessness rate should also remain fairly steady. However, if we fail to build enough new housing for every newcomer, new residents will displace current low-income residents. And some of them will end up on the streets. Thousands of Huntsvillians are currently one death, divorce, illness, or injury away from homelessness. Contrary to popular belief, most people who are homeless are homeless because they can’t afford housing. Homelessness causes or exacerbates mental illness and addiction far more severely and more often than the other way around. 

No matter what, we need a lot more affordable housing in Huntsville right now. This is where the Housing Authority comes in. Join us to hear Dennis talk about what the City has planned and how we can help create and implement the smartest, most cost-effective, and humane ways to get more Huntsvillians into homes they can afford. 

To learn more and get involved, RSVP to the August happy hour today!