Sorry for the long silence. Last week was chaotic, with full days of regular work and several late nights focused on activities related to our local asset development program. We held a good fundraising committee meeting one evening, and divvied up the list of solicitations. I also sat in on a meeting of housing services providers in Berkshire County to explore how best to collaborate on the delivery of IDA accounts and home ownership assistance in general. And we held another focus group, this one composed of struggling artists, freelancers and other self-employed people, who make up a growing segment of the local economy. As a group, they were pretty receptive to asset development concepts, and I was a bit surprised that they were at least as interested in strategies targeting small business development and career education as they were in strategies targeting home ownership assistance. One reason was that four of the twelve were already home owners; interestingly, they all owned two-family homes, saying it was their only option because they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments without some rental income, and they weren’t averse to running a tiny landlord business in addition to their self-employment business. Over time, their input may be helpful in tailoring some asset development services to residents who are struggling as artists and self-employed business people.
The past week was extra busy because I was getting ready for a conference in Chicago, where I am until Wednesday night. My own presentation is now out of the way, so the pressure is off and I can enjoy hearing about other people’s good ideas for the next two days.