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Thread: Working in social housing versus private development

  1. #1
    Dec 2009

    Working in social housing versus private development

    As I am facing a rather existential question that I now realized requires a better understanding of the reality of what exists out there in the ‘real’ planning world I was hoping that some of you might have some helpful input to enlighten me and bring me back to earth.

    I am entering the field of planning with a background in public health.

    My dilemma is as follows.

    On the one had I want to leverage my experience in public health. That is, to feel like I am making a cumulative social impact, to feel as though I have not wasted the past decade, and to quite simply make myself more marketable when I embark upon what appears to be a very competitive planning field.

    For example, by working in social housing (which relates to my experience with marginalized populations) or active transportation and/or urban nutrition (which relates to my experience with health related behaviour)…or to work in hospital planning.

    On the other hand I really want to make a clean break with my past work that simply allows me to enjoy what I do without always having to engage my social conscience about everything I do.

    This may sound strange to some of you, but I also want to be able to go out for a few beers and to have something to talk about in relation to my work that interests other people and does not always become a ‘downer’. I also want to study something that provides a way for me to view the world and other places that I visit, in a more meaningful but not necessarily gloomy way.

    For example, I do have a real interest in the housing market/values, urban development more generally, and economic development.

    One thought I had was to focus on social/affordable/supportive housing in order to both capitalize on my past experience (thus getting me in the door) and provide a springboard to move into the more general area of housing development in not only the public, but potentially private sector. The reservation I have about areas like active transportation and urban nutrition is that I will be stuck in the public sector with limited flexibility.

    I though maybe I could work with some non profits, the municipality, or even private developers that are constructing affordable, public, supportive housing, and then gradually move into the private sector exclusively focusing on all types of housing.

    Is this a reasonable strategy?

    Moderator note:
    Moved from Economic and Community Development forum to Career Advice. You'll get on-topic and better replies here. Thanks and carry on!
    Last edited by Gedunker; 27 Apr 2010 at 2:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    May 2004
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    It's a tack I've taken just this week. Posting from the cyber cafe at this event:
    http://housingconference.org Sorry, final day.

    Seems to be much overlap between land use planning and social-housing work. Yesterday I went to sessions on complete streets,sprawl, "eating in place," and universal design. I'm amazed to discover non-profits offering programs that pertain to what I know and care about...and presumably jobs to manage them.

    Check your local listings.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    May 2004
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    And by golly, I just uncovered a land bank job that would nicely dovetail off my Ugly Cell Tower(r) site acquisition experience.

    Land banking is all the rage, even outside of Detroit. Check it out in Your Fair City.

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