Gaining Community Acceptance of Affordable Housing - Don Darling, Prestige Homes


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Don Darling of Prestige Homes presents his views on Affordable housing on May 8 2010 at the NBNPHA Annual Conference.

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Gaining Community Acceptance of Affordable Housing - Don Darling, Prestige Homes

  1. 1. <ul><li>Don Darling Prestige Homes </li></ul>Gaining Community Acceptance
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Company background </li></ul><ul><li>A recent experience </li></ul><ul><li>The journey </li></ul><ul><li>Gaining community acceptance </li></ul><ul><li>How the community can help </li></ul><ul><li>How municipalities can help </li></ul><ul><li>Taking action </li></ul>
  3. 3. Company background <ul><li>Prestige Homes is a division of the Shaw Group, one of Canada’s 50 best managed companies. </li></ul><ul><li>Head quarters are located in Sussex, NB. </li></ul><ul><li>We build single family and multi family housing, over 11000 since 1973. </li></ul><ul><li>Full service organization offering support from concept to completion (land planning, design, concept and final building plans, construction management, etc) </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Our company was approached from a past client, to construct affordable rental units for their non profit housing group. </li></ul><ul><li>Working within their mandate, we identified an opportunity to construct 24 units in the town of Sussex NB. </li></ul><ul><li>The non profit housing group is well known to the community and is an excellent landlord. </li></ul><ul><li>Both parties agreed on terms and the work began in May of 2009. </li></ul>Recent example
  5. 5. The big issue <ul><li>Nimby </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Initial council meeting </li></ul><ul><li>was positive. </li></ul><ul><li>September 23 </li></ul><ul><li>formal </li></ul><ul><li>re zoning process </li></ul><ul><li>started. </li></ul><ul><li>Next round of land </li></ul><ul><li>Planning including </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering, Esa, </li></ul><ul><li>etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Work continued on </li></ul><ul><li>Building designs </li></ul><ul><li>Full planning now </li></ul><ul><li>Formal proposal was </li></ul><ul><li>submitted </li></ul><ul><li>to government </li></ul><ul><li>Regular updates </li></ul><ul><li>Between PH and </li></ul><ul><li>Proponent. </li></ul><ul><li>Identified land </li></ul><ul><li>Developed back up plan </li></ul><ul><li>Signed agreement </li></ul><ul><li>(conditional) </li></ul><ul><li>Contact municipal </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders to discuss </li></ul><ul><li>Project. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify land </li></ul><ul><li>Re zoning process </li></ul><ul><li>Designs for buildings </li></ul><ul><li>Land development </li></ul><ul><li>Working relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Project objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Budgets and timelines </li></ul><ul><li>May 2009 </li></ul>Stage 1
  7. 7. <ul><li>Now the hard work begins…. </li></ul><ul><li>And this is part of the problem. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Supporting municipal leaders <ul><li>We set the stage for professionalism from day one: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Letters were written before our initial meeting. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Briefing books were prepared for each councilor. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A professional initial presentation was made to council with detailed speaking notes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We made a commitment to be proactive to gain public support. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We set the stage well on the need within the community for safe, affordable and energy efficient housing. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Initial press stories were positive. </li></ul><ul><li>We went proactive by creating personalized briefing books for neighbors and identified who to contact (exceed the minimum.) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Gaining community acceptance <ul><li>I personally delivered briefing books to approximately 25 house holds. </li></ul><ul><li>Most people were polite, however my detractors set the stage early. </li></ul><ul><li>I was contacted and invited to a town hall style meeting at a neighbors home. </li></ul><ul><li>We updated councilors several times through the process. </li></ul><ul><li>We wrote to service groups in town and major employers asking for help. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Use your network <ul><li>I called: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Other housing groups across the country. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other municipal, provincial and federal politicians. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Several contacts within CMHC. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many people I didn’t even know. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If you don’t ask you wont get </li></ul><ul><li>Social medias are an option (youtube, face book, etc) it goes both ways. </li></ul><ul><li>Research and be prepared </li></ul>
  11. 11. Town hall meetings <ul><li>This approach can be very helpful in terms of getting facts about your project into a public forum. </li></ul><ul><li>Its important to replace myths with facts. </li></ul><ul><li>Not all that attend will be reasonable. </li></ul><ul><li>Its important to stay calm and focused. </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t know the answer, commit to responding in a reasonable amount of time. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Public meeting <ul><li>We prepared another custom power point presentation and speaking notes. </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting was well attended. </li></ul><ul><li>Supporters were quiet. </li></ul><ul><li>Detractors were vocal and stereotypical arguments were alive (crime, property values, use, planning, to many low income people in one area, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Its important that municipal leaders show support for the project by having a strong understanding of facts and benefits of affordable housing projects. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Dealing with the objections <ul><li>Issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crime </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drugs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To many poor people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building height </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Buffers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better use of the land </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Property values </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Hearing of objections <ul><li>We need a name change (this meeting was held late November.) </li></ul><ul><li>The council chamber was full. </li></ul><ul><li>All letters are read by town clerk. </li></ul><ul><li>Two of our non supporters were so extreme, I believe they took themselves out of a rational discussion. </li></ul><ul><li>I struggled with responding to some of the misleading information in some letters and decided to tell my story. </li></ul><ul><li>Question? Is there a better process </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>“Being a leader is having the courage to make important decisions, especially in the face of opposition.” </li></ul><ul><li>“Those who oppose a project can present themselves as representatives of the larger population” </li></ul>
  16. 16. Check in <ul><li>At this stage we are 7 months into the process. </li></ul><ul><li>We have dedicated significant resources working on a potential project. </li></ul><ul><li>We still didn’t have zoning or funding for the project. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Lessons <ul><li>Have a good plan </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to work hard </li></ul><ul><li>Use your network </li></ul><ul><li>Spread the facts </li></ul><ul><li>It has to get easier as most would give up </li></ul><ul><li>Be professional </li></ul>
  18. 18. Key Success <ul><li>That the concerns raised by some in the community are avoided and or dealt with. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t make promises we can’t keep. </li></ul><ul><li>Have a solid plan for maintenance and engagement of tenants. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone will be watching. </li></ul>
  19. 19. As of today <ul><li>The first buildings are now under construction. </li></ul><ul><li>Land development will start late June. </li></ul><ul><li>Project should be completed by the fall. </li></ul><ul><li>It has been 12 months since we started working on the project. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Recommended solutions <ul><li>Reduce / eliminate government imposed costs such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Development cost charges </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Municipal charges (i.e. Approval process costs) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Taxes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Improved ownership financing options </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancing affordability of homeownership </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancing access to homeownership </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Address the two fundamental challenges in the rental market—(1) low volumes of new rental construction and (2) low incomes among tenants : </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Income tax treatment of rental housing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The GST and rental housing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Government-mandated costs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unfair property taxation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Assisting low-income and special needs households: a) Rent supplements </li></ul><ul><li> b) Portable housing allowances </li></ul>
  21. 21. Thank you