Let’s NOT get political. I invite you to set your political leanings aside, and I bet we can all agree with the following statement: The COVID-19 crisis has exposed many cracks in our society, and in fact, the pandemic broke them open wider.

I want to address one of those cracks in this column: affordable housing in Adams County. Now you may think, “What does housing have to do with an organization called the Adams Economic Alliance—isn’t their focus on businesses and the local economy?”

Yes, yes, and yes—while we focus on businesses, jobs, and the local economy, we also focus on the rest of the pieces of the puzzle that makes life complete in Adams County, including our homes and quality of life. And lord knows, we’ve been spending a lot of time in our homes lately! That is, those of us who are lucky enough to own or rent them—an important point to keep in mind. Perspective is everything.

The @Home in Adams County Initiative began as a result of a community-wide study wherein very specific needs, previously unnoticed, were identified. Unnoticed because this is part of the population who, from the outside, looks as though they are doing just fine. These are folks who don’t regularly rely upon community social services. They have jobs. They may or may not own vehicles. They are surviving.

Perhaps there is a way to move from survive to thrive. Isn’t that what we want most for our own close circle of people? We pride ourselves on having a good “quality of life” in Adams County. Our partner @Home in Adams County is striving for this quality of life, for everyone.

And what are the key three factors that determine our quality of life? affordable housing, a living wage, and transportation.

So let’s dive a little deeper. The median price of a home in Adams County is reported by Zillow to be about $216,000.  Realtor.com reports that it’s closer to $242,000. If one follows the standard of not spending more than 30% of their total earnings on their home, they must have a wage of $68,000 annually or $33/hr.  Clearly there are people who can afford this price tag, as the Real Estate Association of York and Adams County have told us that houses for sale do not linger long. I was shocked to learn that homes are selling as fast as four days or “as long as” one month’s time. One agent with whom I spoke said that folks are contacting people even before their home is listed for sale!

Although Adams County’s industries have diversity, we don’t have enough employment opportunities for everyone to live and work locally. To be clear, “worksheds,” as they are sometimes called, are regional. There is no expectation that everyone will live and work within the same community. However, we do need to have more opportunities within Adams County. Almost 65% of the workforce is employed outside of the county. Why is that? How do we define “a living wage” in Adams County? What a timely topic, as many businesses are currently reevaluating their workforces. We need to think strategically about what our vision for the future of Adams County will be, in an effort to serve everyone via living wages.

I think it’s a common belief that everyone in Adams County has a car. It certainly feels like that sometimes. But the truth is that many do not have reliable transportation on a daily basis. I cannot provide data as an example because many residents have more than one vehicle per family while others have none. Rich Farr, Executive Director of Rabbittransit shares with us the need for public transportation. Research concluded that there exists a need for a bus line that will connect commerce, residents, employees and education between Hanover and Gettysburg.  Some of Adams and York Counties’ largest employers are located between the two towns and agree.

There is much to be accomplished and we’re hoping that you will become part of the solutions. We are hoping something in this article piques your interest, and that you’ll reach out to become part of this Coalition. @Home in Adams County invites community and collaboration!

Here’s how to take the next step: Check their website homeinadamscounty.org for more info—including how to sign up for their newsletter, how to contact them via email—whether it’s a simple “Yes, I’d like to be involved in future conversations” or by sending questions. Please also connect with them on social media (Facebook and Twitter). Thank you!