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Housing summit to look for solutions to Tompkins County housing shortage

Solvejg Wastvedt
WSKG News (File Photo)
Student housing in the city of Ithaca is a factor in Tompkins County's housing shortage


Anyone who’s looked for a home in Tompkins County knows there’s a housing crunch. A recent study from the county shows there’s not enough. Organizers of an upcoming housing summit hope they’ll find some solutions.

Decision makers from town governments and non-profits and realty groups are scheduled to speak. Martha Robertson, Tompkins County legislator and event organizer, wants people to speak up no matter what their stake is.

Student housing will definitely be a discussion topic.

“We have a couple of log jams. One is student housing, Cornell in particular has been increasing enrollment over the last ten years, but not increasing the number of beds on campus.”

So, students live in the city’s neighborhoods. That’s why, Robertson said, Cornell’s vice president for student life will be a speaker. The school is making a dent in housing, according to Robertson.

There's no single driver of the housing shortage. No matter how much student housing you build, there’s still not enough specialized senior living centers or affordable rental properties.

“Especially for lower income workers," said Robertson. "They’re having to drive from way far away outside the county and they can’t afford to work at lower income jobs because they can’t get there and they can’t live close enough to use public transit.”

The keynote speaker is from an urban planning group in Washington D.C. Robertson said she hopes people will get ideas from what other communities have done.

The summit starts Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. and is open to everyone. It continues into Thursday, but there's a waitlist to attend.