Siting Housing First:Guidance From National Groups and Leaders in the FieldPhillip Supino image: http://host.madison.com
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 10Abstract Discussion e scope of this memorandum is limited to groups Researching online resources, non-profit organizations, publicproviding national, industry-standard best practices for housing agencies and personal interviews, it is clear that despite thefirst facility siting and opposition mitigation techniques and a presence of some useful resources, there is not an industrycompilation of best practices common to the relevant standard set of best-practices for siting housing first facilities indocuments. Despite some constraints, there are a variety of urban and suburban areas. e resources that may be called bestgenerally accepted best-practice resources available to housing practices guides to establishing housing first facilities are usefulfirst proponents. Within this body of research, there are some but uncoordinated with similar documents produced by otherrecommendations common to each document that amount to organizations, despite covering the same topics and providingconsensus-based best practices. ese resources may serve as a comparable recommendations. Despite this lack oftemplate for groups nation-wide who seek to establish housing coordination, close examination of the relevant documentsfirst facilities. reveals some essential common themes and practices. e is memorandum will demonstrate that there are best industry would be well served to coordinate these findings andpractice resources available to housing first proponents who proven techniques and compile a housing first developmentwish to develop facilities while avoiding organized opposition to guide to assist in future projects nation wide.their projects. e available resources are produced by private ere are a number of government agencies and privateand government organizations and are typically made available organizations engaged in establishment of housing first facilitiesto the public on the organizations’ websites in on-line resource or providing consultative services to housing first proponents.libraries containing a wide variety of other materials related to e relevant federal government agencies include: ethe organizations’ mission. e resources are typically free Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), edocuments geared toward industry professionals and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), eacademics. e assistance provided is limited in scope and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and thecoordination. But the body of research from the numerous Department of Veterans Aﬀairs (VA). Relevant national levelhousing first facilities in operation around the county, as well as private and non-profit organizations include: e Corporationoutside groups advocating for housing first, is growing and for Supportive Housing (CSH), Pathways to Housing (PH), einformative. e resources provided by housing first Supportive Housing Network (SHN), e National Alliance toorganizations are similar in scope and methodology while End Homelessness (NAEH), e National Law Center onlacking in coordination. Taken together, the body of research Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) and the Homelessand guidelines provides a useful set of tools for housing first Resource Center (HRC). While these lists are notproponents to avoid locational disputes. comprehensive, the agencies and groups included are among the most active in establishing housing first facilities or providing consultation and information to housing first proponents around the country. In addition to these groups, there are
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 11countless State and Local agencies and organizations that nationally known guide to facility establishment or mitigatingparticipate in the development, funding, establishment and locational opposition.3management of housing first facilities but fall outside of the e national organization that provides a closescope of this memorandum. equivalent to best practice guidelines and consultations is the In interviews and internet-based research, groups Corporation for Supportive Housing. e CSH maintains anengaged in the creation of housing first facilities reported some extensive database of resources for housing first groups. eformal coordination or consultation with like groups during the materials cover a wide range of topics related to housing firstplanning and implementation phases of their projects. 1 Despite development issues. e wide range of resources made availablestrong national organizations lobbying for the funding and on the CSH website provide a comprehensive guide to theestablishment of housing first programs and facilities, there is myriad community engagement, siting and establishment issuesrelatively little in the way of coordinated planning, assistance or faced by housing first proponents.4 ese documents provideliterature regarding best practices for community engagement, some basic tools and techniques for siting a housing firstsite selection and mitigation of NIMBY opposition. development while minimizing opposition, which will be e most common technique used by housing first discussed in greater detail below.groups to obtain information and best practice guidance for Jordan Press, Director of Federal Policy for the CSH,establishing facilities is through discussion with similar groups indicated that he was unaware of nationally accepted bestalready involved in these activities. In an interview with Bill practices.5 He went on to say that the consultation servicesHobson, Executive Director of the Seattle-based Downtown provided by his and other organizations are meant to be best-Emercengy Services Center (DESC), he indicated that as an practices guidance tailored to the unique needs of their clients.industry leader in housing first projects, he regularly consults Mr. Press also indicated that there are a handful of nationalgroups seeking to establish facilities in other jurisdictions. 2 housing first conferences held annually, where industryWhile he provides verbal consultation, the DESC does not professionals from the public and private sector exchange ideasprovide a set of comprehensive best practices to those seeking and information. e Pathways to Housing Conference is theassistance. Additionally, Mr. Hobson was unaware of any largest of these, and locational disputes and community engagement are topics covered regularly at the conference. 61 McDivitt, Kay Moshier. Personal Interview, 25 April, 20122 Hobson, Bill. Personal Interview, 16 April, 20123 Hobson, Bill. Personal Interview, 16 April, 20124 McDivitt, Kay Moshier. Personal Interview, 25 April, 20125 Press, Jordan. Personal Interview, 13 April, 20126 Press, Jordan. Personal Interview, 13 April, 2012
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 12However, materials and transcripts from that conference are not properties in the New York metro area. e guide and toolkityet available. break down the best practices for establishing facilities and e federal Interagency Council on Homelessness techniques for mitigating opposition. e step-by-step guidecoordinates between various federal agencies including HUD, directly addresses issues like combating NIMBY-ism, media andHHS and the VA. e Council maintains an extensive database public outreach techniques, facility management, goodof resources for housing first and similar homeless advocacy neighbor policies, messaging and other methods for buildinggroups. e database includes primers for housing first community support for facilities. e toolkit provides literature,proponents on topics such as community engagement, case studies and scripts meant to supplement the guide andcombating NIMBY-ism and site selection for facilities. While provide useful tools for housing first proponents.the documents do not represent an attempt to compile or Both documents are made available on the group’srecommend industry best practices, the resource database website. e Network oﬀers consulting services to otherprovided by the ICH is an excellent starting place for proponent organizations, and like Seattle’s DESC, the group engages ingroups seeking to establish housing first facilities.7 informal consultations at the request of other groups. e guide e HUD website oﬀers another federal government and toolkit are a strong attempt by the Network to provide alevel online guide for groups seeking to establish housing first comprehensive best-practices guide, and the documents couldfacilities. Called the Homelessness Resource Exchange, the serve as a model for a national eﬀort in the future. Any groupguide diﬀers from other online resources in that it is a step-by- engaged in the development of housing first facilities shouldstep guide rather than a database of collected resources from consult the Network and their online resources early in theother sources. e guide directly addresses citing conflict and development process.NIMBY-opposition mitigation, as well as guidelines for e National Alliance to End Homelessness coordinatesfinancing and management of housing first facilities.8 While the with other national-level advocacy groups and local-leveldepth of the material is limited, the assistance provided by the facility proponents to promote supportive housing modelsHomelessness Resource Exchange is an eﬀective primer for nation-wide. In a discussion of the utility of national policy andthose engaging housing first development and management. best practices for supportive housing, Kay Moshier McDivitt, e most comprehensive guides for housing first Capacity Building Director for the NAEH, stated: “e NAEHproponents is “Building Support for Supportive Housing” and does not support a unified national policy for the developmentthe “Supportive Housing Toolkit” provided by the New York of supportive housing facilities. Development policy should beCity-based Supportive Housing Network. e private tailor to site-specific circumstances.”9 However, she went on toorganization maintains a number of supportive housing say that there are general best practices, accepted industry wide,7 Interagency Council on Homelessness, Home Page: http://www.usich.gov/8 Department of Housing and Urban Development, Home Page: www.hudhre.info/9 McDivitt, Kay Moshier. Personal Interview, 25 April, 2012
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 13that are essential for housing first proponents to incorporate • Create a dra plan, vetted by all relevant stakeholders, beforeinto their development plans. She cited the CSH and SHN engaging the public to ensure the project appears wellguides as being good starting points for potential proponents of organized to the concerned public;new facilities. • Educate supportive and interested parties and isolate the While there is no singular best practices guide nationally opposition;available and widely accepted as the go-to guide for housing • Consult attorneys and government administrators to gain afirst proponents, there are a number of useful tools available comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape beforefrom both public and private sources. Groups interested in proceeding with a selected location;establishing housing first facilities are well served to conduct • Avoid selecting locations that require use or zoning variancesinternet-based research to discover the relevant agencies and and thus, public hearings;groups included in this memorandum. Between the e housing first community would benefit frompublications made available on the groups’ websites and development of a comprehensive guide for proponents’ futurethrough consultation with housing first proponents in other use.10 is eﬀort would ensure that groups seeking to establishareas, a consensus on some of the essential best practices housing first facilities utilize proven, eﬀective practices foremerges. community engagement, location selection and mitigation of rough analysis of the relevant publications and online NIMBY opposition to their projects. Until that eﬀort isresources, a consensus emerges among the various groups as to completed, the resources and recommendations outlined in thisthe best practices for development and mitigation of NIMBY memorandum provide a useful starting point for future housingopposition. S ome of the common techniques and first developments nation wide.recommendations among the various resources include:• Avoid selecting locations where the primary land use type is Conclusion well-established residences; ere are organizations that provide literature and consulting• Avoid clustering projects in areas with existing homeless on community engagement, siting and mitigating NIMBY facilities; locational disputes over housing first facilities. ere are• Engage the impacted public early and oen; relatively few industry-wide best practice resources to help• Identify key political, social, financial and technical proponents and organizations eﬀectively plan for community stakeholders; engagement, siting and mitigation of locational disputes related• Seek to build a coalition of supportive community leaders, to Housing First facilities. However, the available resources residents and stakeholders; share a number of commonalities that amount to a consensus• Keep the coalition engaged and empowered to ensure it works on development best practices. Collectively, the available in concert with project proponents;10 Bauman, Tristia: Attorney, National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty. Personal Interview, 24 April, 2012
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 14resources are useful tools for housing first proponents who seekto establish facilities accepted by the surrounding community.