On Nov. 14, the Santa Fe Advancing Affordable Housing and Livable Neighborhoods Advisory Group will make recommendations to the City Council about how the city can move forward in addressing issues of affordable housing.
Housing issues “have always been core to what MIX cares about and wants to work on,” Daniel Werwath, a MIX cofounder and chief operating of the affordable housing group New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing, says. While MIX doesn’t do “direct housing work,” Werwath says, it works in partnership with groups that do to provide “a partnership that gives us the ability to connect constituents.”
Homewise has been a key partner and sponsor for MIX in this area. Homewise CEO Mike Loftin co-chaired the advisory group making recommendations to the City Council this week, and Homewise also will be on site at MIX’s Nov. 15 Cogito Ergo MIX event at Descartes Labs to talk with attendees about its El Camino Crossing development. El Camino’s first stage in the development of energy-efficient single family homes has almost sold out. Future stages include condos, live-work facilities and commercial development. El Camino homes also feature flex life spaces, which can be transformed from living spaces to other uses for work, art, recreation and more. In fact, make contact with a Homewise representative at the event, answer a question about how you would use a flex space, and you will be entered in a $200 Homewise raffle, with the later possibility of winning a 1978 El Camino.
The flex life spaces concept grew directly out of a MIX/Homewise working group discussion last spring about what people are looking for in today’s homes. Bringing people together to brainstorm about how to do things differently is one of the reasons Loftin values Homewise’s relationship with MIX.
“What I’ve always said I like about MIX is they’re trying to figure out the future,” Loftin says, “where should we be heading for jobs and employment and the economy and housing. They’re not complaining…MIX is like, ‘what do we want to be?’ and I like that. Santa Fe has to figure out what’s our next thing and what do we want to be be…MIX is the main group thinking about that and trying to create energy about that.”
Homewise was formed in 1986; Loftin has helmed the organization since 1992. He says “the fundamental dynamics” around housing “are very similar to what they were 20 years ago.” The types of housing people may want, he notes, have shifted to some degree. More people participate in the gig economy, and may want different types of homes that are more suitable to home offices, or smaller residences, such as tiny homes. Nonetheless, Loftin says, the key issue in housing affordability, “contrary to popular belief, is not bricks and mortar, it’s how you finance it. It’s largely a financing problem, and that hasn’t changed, whatever the bricks and mortar look like. That’s what Homewise figured out a long time ago, and that’s what we’re really good at it.”
One larger cultural shift in the area of affordable housing, Loftin says, concerns the issue of homelessness.
“The conventional wisdom was that if you have homeless people, you build a homeless shelter. That has shifted a ton,” he notes, with the emphasis now being on finding people “good permanent housing,” along with services to help address the issues that may have contributed to their homelessness. While Homewise doesn’t directly provide services for homelessness, Loftin says the recent task force looked at these issues as a “continuum of need for housing,” in which organizations need to collaborate to address the full spectrum. “I think that is the challenge for Santa Fe,” he says, “is how to get that right and get more collaboration.”