Workforce Challenges, Part Two

BY Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor

Earlier this year, I wrote about nursing workforce challenges. As the year has progressed, I find myself bumping into deeper workforce challenges in rural communities; leading the list is housing. I don’t believe this is just a rural issue; I think it extends to urban areas, as well. A few times in my career, I was involved with large organizations that took on housing challenges from building senior and building workforce housing to improving a neighborhood. Some projects required direct involvement as a sponsor; other times, it was acting as a catalyst by attracting a partner. 

So whose responsibility is it to ensure a community has all levels of housing? As short term rentals have gained popularity, much of the low rent stock has been eaten up by more profitable ventures. Teachers, service workers, young families find themselves fighting for access to affordable rentals and first time homes. 

They often have to handle further distances from work, move in with their families or co share a more expensive rental.

Generally, not-for-profits have taken the lead in Central New York, such as Home HeadQuarters, Housing Visions and Christopher Community. Some for-profit builders have also taken on tax credit projects. Tiny Homes for Good addresses the needs of the homeless; others facilitate apartment rentals for special needs populations.

Home HeadQuarters CEO Kerry Quaglia is focused on the rehabilitation of older homes in Syracuse and new construction. Quaglia says new construction often offers a better option to reduce costs to a first-time homebuyer.

“Housing continues to be a major priority for our communities, especially helping low-income and first-time homebuyers access the housing market safely and affordably,” Quaglia said, adding that part of what is slowing his work at adding affordable housing units is finding contractors, who are facing workforce shortages.

Occasionally, I post blog thoughts on LinkedIn and recently issued a challenge to anchor institutions such as colleges and health systems to look at workforce housing as a challenge and strategic requirement. I took notice of the many comments and cheers from colleagues across the country. I hope it stimulated some thinking about next steps. 

While housing projects may not fit the priorities of a small practice, talking to elected officials and developers about locations and needs might. Use your voice to share what you are hearing from your employees and communities. If you sit on anchor institution boards, ask about their plans or conversations on this topic.
Communities that look at this issue and offer tax incentives or deed restrictions, or land banks dedicated to workforce development, will begin to solve workforce challenges at all levels.

Further resources on this topic:
“Adirondack Housing at a Threshhold”: https:// www.adirondackexplorer.o g/stories/adirondack- housing-at-a-crossroads

“In Vail, housing shortage threatens America’s ski wonderland”: https:// sports-colorado- sheep-vail-7a622d88e2678b32ce-

Local resources:
Christopher Community
Home HeadQuarters
Housing Visions
Two Plus Four Construction

Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor, can be reached at or at


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