The Siting SolutionCase studies in Siting Housing First Progams          UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER | SPRING 2012      ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 1                                 TABLE OF CONTENTSTHE BUD CLARK COMMONS: PORTLAND OR........
The Bud Clark Commons          Portland, OR         Kara Silbernagel
Case Studies in Housing First | 2Abstract                                                             3. Concentrate resou...
Case Studies in Housing First | 3community government. Whether private or public, any new                                 ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 4destination neighborhood. The specific space was a vacant lot                            ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 5some instances, exhibiting disruptive behavior. To resolve                             sp...
Case Studies in Housing First | 6Board Members. Staff from these agencies served mostly as                              Go...
Case Studies in Housing First | 7community, which can be just as vital to attaining housing           balances housing mar...
The Renaissance     Denver, CO    Dylan Grabowski
Case Studies in Housing First | 9Abstract                                                                                 ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 10siting,there was little need for community engagement.                                  ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 11development, the developer asks for an invitation to                                    ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 12facility, as well as, introduce them to neighbors of the existing                       ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 13association) need to engage in a discussion, reciprocating equal                        ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 14            b) description of the income-level and/or type of         in the development...
Emerson NorthMinneapolis, MN   Annalisa McDaniel
Case Studies in Housing First | 16Introduction                                                                          wi...
Case Studies in Housing First | 17are invariably magnets for controversy and are often difficult to                       ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 18gain the support of congregations that reflected the diversity of                       ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 19organization guided NRRC and PCNF through the CBA                                       ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 20        While some developers prefer to fly under the radar and                         ...
The Cuyahoga CountyHousing First Initiative         Cleveland, OH               Evan Carver
Case Studies in Housing First | 22Introduction                                                                            ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 23Stokes, Cleveland’s first black mayor, and current mayor Frank                          ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 24Choosing the Right Site: Three Cases and Many Lessons                                   ...
Case Studies in Housing First | 25Ohio City                                                              the site, the cit...
Case Studies in Housing First | 26fact that Cleveland has gotten a lot of federal money in recent       has a ward-based g...
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  1. 1. The Siting SolutionCase studies in Siting Housing First Progams UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER | SPRING 2012 image: Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
  2. 2. Case Studies in Housing First | 1 TABLE OF CONTENTSTHE BUD CLARK COMMONS: PORTLAND OR............................2THE RENAISSANCE: DENVER, CO.............................................8EMERSON NORTH: MINNEAPOLIS, MN................................... 15THE CUYAHOGA COUNTY INITIATIVE: CLEVELAND, OH..........21HOME AGAIN: WORCESTER, MA........................................... 29LOGAN PLACE: PORTLAND, ME............................................. 37The case studies in Housing First were produced by members of the Spring 2012 graduate planning seminar in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Colorado Denver For additional information on Housing First Initiatives Nationwide, please go to:
  3. 3. The Bud Clark Commons Portland, OR Kara Silbernagel
  4. 4. Case Studies in Housing First | 2Abstract 3. Concentrate resources on programs that offer measurable On June 2, 2011, Portland, Oregon opened a multi- results.faceted homeless facility in the heart of the city. The Bud Clark Inherent within the Home Again plan, as outlined withCommons, the cornerstone of Portland’s 10-year plan to end these three key principles, is a “housing first” methodology tohomelessness, provides tiered services to people experiencing end homelessness and develop a comprehensive homelesshomelessness (Home Again, 2005). Within the 10-year plan, facility. At the cornerstone of the plan was the Bud ClarkPortland identified three critical services that helps individuals Commons (BCC), originally known as the Resource Accessachieve stability and end homelessness; shelter services, access Center. The BCC was developed from an innovative partnershipto resources, and most importantly, stable housing. The Bud with the City of Portland’s Housing Bureau, MultnomahClark Commons is the linchpin of the plan by providing all County, Home Forward (previously the Housing Authority ofthree services to individuals within the same building. The Portland) and local service provider, Transition Projects, Inc.facility is a LEED-Platinum building that houses a resource day While Portland Housing Bureau, Multnomah County were keycenter, men’s shelter and 130 studio apartments. These players in siting the facility, Home Forward and Transitionapartments provide permanent housing to the most vulnerable, Projects are instrumental in the management and day-to-daychronically homeless populations under the Housing First operations of the facility.model. The following case study looks at the innovative The first floor of the building houses a 90-bed men’spartnerships between the City of Portland, Multnomah County, shelter, with the second and third floors hosting a Resource Dayservice providers, business associations and citizen groups to Center. The Day Center provides resources such as mentalsuccessfully site and design the facility while keeping sight of health, veteran services, eye care and social security services tothe overarching goal: helping individuals overcome personal anyone in the community seeking assistance. The remainder ofand social barriers to achieve stability. the building is made up of 130 Housing First studio apartments that provides permanent housing to chronically homelessBackground individuals who suffer from personal barriers such as mental In 2005, the City of Portland, Oregon and Multnomah illness or drug abuse. See Appendix A for a layout of the facility.County developed “Home Again – A 10-year plan to endhomelessness in Portland and Multnomah County.” The 10-year Appetite for Collaborationplan addresses several issues throughout Portland and Portland has a strong history for collaboration and civicMultnomah County, highlighting three key goals: engagement. Critical to these civic engagement efforts is the1. Focus on the most chronically homeless populations. Office of Neighborhood Involvement, a bureau within city2. Streamline access to existing services in order to prevent government. In Portland there are 95 distinct neighborhood and reduce other homelessness. associations recognized by the City and actively involved
  5. 5. Case Studies in Housing First | 3community government. Whether private or public, any new housing typically do not have the means to support businessesdevelopment, deed or permit must notify and engage with and retail. Without a balanced housing market, the communityappropriate neighborhood association(s) prior to receiving could not sustain a vibrant business district. Owners wouldapproval from City Council.1 This process allows community leave the neighborhood, creating a windfall for the community.2members to voice their concerns and provide valuable feedback At the onset of the siting process, members of theto City officials to better shape development in Portland. community, specifically OTCT were unhappy with the location The Bud Clark Commons is sited at the juncture of Old and many argued the City ignored the Vision Plan and its goalsTown China Town Neighborhood and Pearl District in for balance in the community. Members felt the City wasdowntown Portland. Historically known as the “skid row” of placing an unjust burden on the Old Town ChinatownPortland, Old Town Chinatown (OTCT) is the common neighborhood. While residents and business owners acceptedgathering location for people suffering from homelessness, that the community needed to provide services to the homeless,mental illnesses, drug addition and other illnesses. In an effort they felt adding additional low-income housing was shifting theto help individuals overcome such barriers, several human balance and creating an unsustainable community.service providers have located to the neighborhood over the In addition, OTCT Vice Chair, Nancy Stowell recalls atyears. Local service providers, such as Transition Projects have the beginning of the siting process that the Bud Clarkbeen providing men’s and women’s shelters, meals and social Commons was not the only development being proposed. Thereservices to the homeless in OTCT for years. As a staple fixture were multiple low-income and affordable housing developmentsin the community, many of these service providers are not only under consideration which only increased the community’sbusinesses, but they are also active, engaged community concern about an unbalanced neighborhood. Through the sitingmembers participating in neighborhood associations. and design process, the City and project partners actively Approximately 30 years ago, the Old Town Chinatown engaged with residents and businesses to address their concernsNeighborhood Association adopted a Vision Plan for the and ensure the facility would not inhibit the value of thecommunity. Due to the neighborhood’s longstanding reputation neighborhood, but rather sustain and contribute to a safe,as “skid row” residents were determined to address the issues healthy community.facing the area and develop a plan to create a vibrant, safe, andhealthy community. Rather than try to clean-up and eradicate Case Studythe neighborhood of its nuisances, OTCT embraced and Phase I: Locationintegrated the diversity of the area in their plan. The Vision Plan The Bud Clark Commons facility is located in OTCT,set out goals to balance low-income, poverty residences with just south of the Portland Union Station, and borders the Pearlmarket rate and above housing. Residents of low-income District neighborhood – a historically higher income,1 Office of Neighborhood Involvement ( Stowell, Nancy. Vice Chair of Old Town China Town Neighborhood Association. Interviewed 4.17.12
  6. 6. Case Studies in Housing First | 4destination neighborhood. The specific space was a vacant lot renewal block. The other half of the block would be set aside forowned by the Portland Development Commission (PDC), the redevelopment and market-rate housing. This resolution,urban renewal agency for the City charged with developing coupled with the fact that the intent of the 10-year Home Againprojects to meet the City’s housing, economic and homeless plan was always intended to site the facility in Oldredevelopment priorities. In 2008, City Council transferred the Town Chinatown, helped to alleviate tensions betweenblock from the PDC to the Portland Housing Authority to community members and service providers. Citizens moveddevelop the site for the Bud Clark Commons.3 The siting beyond opposition and entered into a collaborative decisionresolution outlines an alternative block if the NW Irving block making process with the site developers to ensure the facilityis deemed inadequate, due to an environmental assessment or simultaneously addressed homeless needs in the neighborhood,cost. This alternative block is still located within OTCT as well as community member concerns.neighborhood – demonstrating the City’s plan to develop thefacility that is the cornerstone of the 10-year plan within OTCT. Phase II: DesignThe resolution also outlines that the Office of Neighborhood The Portland Housing Board and Home ForwardInvolvement must help facilitate a good neighborhood created a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) toagreement between all agencies and neighbors, “as required by participate in the development and design of the facility. LocalCity Policy.” residents from neighborhood associations, business association As mentioned above, there was high interest from representatives, service providers and individuals who hadcommunity members in the siting of the facility. To address previously been homeless and could speak on behalf of thosecommunity concerns, the Old Town Chinatown Visions currently suffering from homelessness served on the CAC. Forcommittee hosted twelve meetings between 2007 and 2008. One two years, the advisory committee, with leadership from Homeof the top concerns from these meetings was the housing Forward, worked with the designers and architects to create animbalance it would create in the neighborhood, as well as that engaging design that reflected the values of the community.5the siting may impede future redevelopment of the Broadway The advisory committee provided crucial perspectivesCorridor – a significant city project to promote redevelopment on pieces ranging from exterior design, aesthetics to overallin downtown Portland.4 As a compromise for both resident and community impacts. For example, the CAC helped problembusiness concerns, the PDC and Portland Housing Bureau solve a common concern, queuing. Oftentimes, individualsagreed the facility would only be on half of PDC-owned urban queue in front of facilities, blocking sidewalks, littering and in3 Resource Access Center (RAC) Resolution, 2008. Portland Development Commission Resolution, 2008. Allen, Kate. Senior Policy Advisor, Portland Housing Bureau. Interviewed 3.31.12
  7. 7. Case Studies in Housing First | 5some instances, exhibiting disruptive behavior. To resolve sparked the idea for the Good Neighbor Agreement, Kate Allen,queuing tensions, the Bud Clark Commons only allows Senior Policy Advisor stated it is a common practice in Portlandindividuals to queue within the facilities courtyard. Not only and required by City policy for certain developments, such asdoes this provide a safer, cleaner environment for the this one.8 While neighborhood agreements and processes differcommunity, it also provides a safe, protected environment for depending on circumstances, it is common for the City’sthe homeless, especially during times of bad weather when lines Neighborhood Involvement Bureau to facilitate neighborhoodare the longest.6 CAC members were also concerned about how agreements, oftentimes between business development andthe design of the facility may impede future redevelopment on neighborhoods. The idea to develop a neighborhood agreementthe remainder of the block. This was agreed upon by all parties was always planned to be a part of the siting process.and helped foster the design of the ground floor in ways that Many of the stakeholders that participated in thesupported the functionality of the building without creating Community Advisory Council were the same as those thatproblems for residents or the Portland Police Bureau.”7 Through participated in the Good Neighborhood Agreement (GNA)two design workshops multiple Community Advisory negotiations. However, GNA stakeholders represented a largerCommittee meetings, the architects were able to incorporate the congregation of community stakeholders than those thatneeds and concerns of all the stakeholders into the facility. participated in the CAC. In addition, Transition Projects Additionally, the Community Advisory Committee also identified homeless representatives to also participate in theplayed vital roles in securing permits, receiving authorization process. As part of the GNA negotiations, future Bud Clarkand financing for the facility. Representatives from the CAC Commons residence were engaged in the process to buildprovided vital testimony for City Council throughout the community and help residents take responsibility for theirprocess, including the Resolution process transferring home. The impact from their participation can be seen in theownership of the block, approving the design of the facility and GNA. When neighbors saw that residents were engaged andeventual development. Again, reiterating the collaborative taking a stake in their combined community, there was a largedecision framework. shift from an “us versus them” to an “us” mantra.5 To effectively enter into a neighborhood agreement, theGood Neighbor Agreement Development Process City paid for a professional facilitator to manage the Once the Bud Clark Commons secured funding and discussions. This allowed representatives from the Portlandbegan to move forward with building the facility, the Portland Housing Bureau, Home Forward and Transitions Project toHousing Bureau initiated a community engagement process to participate as stakeholders, rather than a facilitator.develop a Good Neighbor Agreement. When asked what Representatives of these agencies were largely leadership and6 Home Forward ( Design Workshop Notes, 2008. Allen, Kate. Senior Policy Advisor, Portland Housing Bureau. Interviewed 3.31.12
  8. 8. Case Studies in Housing First | 6Board Members. Staff from these agencies served mostly as Good Neighbor Agreement Impactsresources to address questions, rather than participate in the In the end, the Good Neighbor Agreement is simply notSiting Committee. just a paper of signatures. Rather it outlines, in detail, how the As a staff resource present at these GNA negotiations, community, businesses, and Bud Clark residents can mitigateMs. Allen lauded the role of the facilitator. The facilitator was concerns and conflicts moving forward.10 The GNA providescritical in rephrasing comments and concerns into constructive protocols for addressing any safety or disturbance concerns.criticisms and a common platform. This helped mitigate the role Rather than allowing any circumstance to escalate, theof emotions and allowed the stakeholders to effectively and Good Neighbor Agreement encourages any persons with aefficiently address concerns. It created a comfortable, safe concern to call representatives. This helps to address concernsenvironment, free to be critical while remaining respectful of immediately and proactively respond. The GNA also includes aothers.9 In the end, the stakeholders were working towards a detailed call list of stakeholders which, according to Ms. Allen,common goal, rather than complete opposition. has been instrumental in the operations of the facility. This As part of the GNA negotiations, the Portland Housing allows person-to-person connections, rather than simply feelingBureau developed an outreach and communication plan to that a concern may not be addressed.effectively engage as many residents, business owners and other Another aspect of the Good Neighbor Agreement alsostakeholders as possible. It is clear that Portland Housing includes the Operating Rules for Bud Clark CommonsAuthority went beyond generally accepted engagement for this residents. This inclusion into the Agreement allows communityprocess. Rather than simply posting public meetings in legal members to see that BCC residents are also held to a high safetysections of newspapers, PHA compiled a complete PowerPoint standard and they are responsible for maintaining a safe andpresentation that was available on their website, went into the clean neighborhood as well. This helps ensure the weight of thecommunity, and hosted a GNA signature party once the community is equally dispersed among neighborhood residentsnegotiations were complete. This outreach fostered the idea that and businesses, agency partners and Bud Clark Commonsnegotiations were not a one-step process that ended at a one- residents.time meeting. Rather, it was an iterative process that depended In efforts to continue community development with allon the stakeholders to carry-out the GNA once the facility was the stakeholders, neighborhood associations invite residents tobuilt. For a complete list of stakeholders see the Good participate in their quarterly meetings. In addition, serviceNeighborhood Agreement, Appendix B. provider representatives also participate in meetings. As both Ms. Allen and Ms. Stowell reiterated to me, the residents at the Bud Clark Commons are not isolated, but rather part of a9 Allen, Kate. Senior Policy Advisor, Portland Housing Bureau. Interviewed 3.31.1210 Good Neighbor Agreement – Appendix B
  9. 9. Case Studies in Housing First | 7community, which can be just as vital to attaining housing balances housing market. Through thoughtful and articulatestability as housing itself. meetings, project partners and community stakeholders were able to site, design and operate a facility to tackle homelessnessConclusion and provide a value-added benefit to the neighborhood. While the Bud Clark Commons Housing Facility What lessons can North Boulder Alliance and Boulderinitially received community push back, through a Housing Partners learn from the Bud Clark Commons? It iscomprehensive community engagement process and evident that community engagement is embedded in the City ofcollaborative decision making, the facility was successfully sited Portland. There were strong expectations that communityin its intended location. While some of the efforts from the members would be integrated into the process. But is that not soproject partners were innovative and transparent, such as the different from the culture in Boulder? Boulder also has a strongCommunity Advisory Committee that was involved from the tradition of transparency and engagement that is oftenbeginning, the City of Portland has historically fostered a correlated to Portland. Moving forward the City of Boulder maytransparent, collaborative process between city government and develop regulated procedures that foster a civil civicresidents. For over thirty years, Portland has officially engagement process. Provide a platform for neighborhoodrecognized neighborhood associations and created policies and associations to be heard, such as a Neighborhood Involvementregulations that regularly involve community members. This Bureau. This not only benefits community members, but it alsoenvironment for collaboration and transparency created a high outlines a process for all developers. Planners and developerslevel of expectations on part of both residents and project can plan for methods to alleviate opposition and conflicts,partners to ensure the Bud Clark Commons met the needs and rather than address more common claims, which is that theconcerns of stakeholders. community wasn’t heard. Boulder Housing Alliance can learn In looking at the Bud Clark Commons process, we can from Old Town Chinatown and adopt a vision plan for thelearn from their community engagement to ensure successful community. The homeless providers are not leaving thehousing services in the City of Boulder. While common neighborhood. The facility is going to be built. It is time to workopposition to the Boulder Housing First facility is that one with the city, engage with the homeless population so they arecommunity is bearing the burden of services for the entire city, also part of the community, and adopt policies for futurethe Old Town Chinatown neighborhood association accepted development so the burden can be address immediately.this role within Portland. In addition, several years prior todeveloping the facility, the City highlighted that the cornerstoneto ending homelessness would be providing services within OldTown Chinatown. Guided by a decades-old Vision Plan that isformally recognized by City Council, OTCT addressed the issuehead-on. Community Advisory Committee members addressedspecific concerns related to business sustainability and a
  10. 10. The Renaissance Denver, CO Dylan Grabowski
  11. 11. Case Studies in Housing First | 9Abstract A Cost-Benefit Analysis and Program Report created by the In 2004 Denver, Colorado adopted a ten-year plan to Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) on December 11,end homelessness in order to receive federal fiscal aid, and 2006, portrays the positive economic associations attached tofurther fund a permanent housing model initiated by Denver Denver’s Housing First program. The study was conducted overHousing First Collaborative (est. 2001). Following the model a 24-month period, and found that compared to the investmentDenver pioneered in the early 2000‘s, multiple Housing First costs of providing temporary or transitional housing andfacilities have since been developed using the federal aid. supportive services, there is a net cost savings to tax-payers ofHousing First is a form of permanent housing that removes the $4,745 per homeless person in a Housing First facility.chronically homeless from living on the streets, regardless of Renaissance at Civic Center is Denver’s first Housingsubstance abuse or mental health issues. This case study will First facility. There have since been multiple facilities developedlook at the relationship between the developer and throughout the immediate metropolitan region. Such facilitiesneighborhood communities. It will entail the siting process of include Renaissance 88 in Thornton, CO, as well as, Offthese types of facilities, how the communities were engaged, and Broadway Lofts and Renaissance Uptown in Denver, CO. Thethe success of said relationships and facilities. Housing First model has been successful for Denver, and hasBackground decreased the amount of money taxpayers spend on social Denver’s Road Home (DRH) is the result of a services used by the chronically homeless. Post-entry into thecollaborative effort to stop and prevent homelessness, as well as Housing First program, rates in detox, incarceration, emergencythe author of the goals set in Denver’s Ten Year Plan to End room visits, inpatient, and shelter costs have all decreased forHomelessness. A few of the eight goals in the ten year plan the formerly homeless residents.include 1.) providing permanent and transitional housing, 2.)providing better services, and 3.) enhancing community The Primer: Denver’s Initial Housing First Siteawareness and coordinated response. (Ten Year Plan to End Denver’s first Housing First facility, Renaissance CivicHomelessness, 2006) Since 2005, DRH has provided nearly Center, is located on the eastern periphery of Denver’s central2,000 units of housing, prevented 5,500 individuals from business district. Surrounding the neighborhood is an array ofbecoming homeless, and placed 5,200 individuals in part or full- office buildings and parking lots, which made this siting processtime jobs. (Denver’s Road Home Funder Collaborative, 2011) unique. With a small amount of neighbors to oppose itsHousing First is one of the initiatives that was detailed withinthe ten year plan and provides permanent housing solutions. Housing First is “a model under which hard-corehomeless people were placed in housing and immediatelysteered into treatment for mental illness and substance abuse.”11Denver Commission to End Homelessness. (2006) Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness: A Report to the Citizens of Denver. Denver, CO: Author. Retrieved from “”
  12. 12. Case Studies in Housing First | 10siting,there was little need for community engagement. to other services is available. The largest factor in siting a facilityColorado Coalition for the Homeless purchased the building is access to health and mental services, public transportation,from the YMCA in 2001 with minimal opposition as the 167 jobs, and retail. Renaissance Uptown’s location is ideal due to itsunits were facing the risk of loss.2 Today, it is a 216 unit proximity to the Stout Street Clinic, which is CCH’s most visitedresidence that shares the first floor with the YMCA, where homeless clinic service.summer camps are held seasonally. An effort to gather The role of urban planners in the siting was minimal.information about the siting process from the director of the City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb of District 6 noted in a16th Street Housing First program, James Ginsburg, was stunted Capitol Hill Newsletter that “MS-3 zoning is in place for the site,as he was unable to be reached. Typically, Housing First facilities it is unlikely that City Council will be called to take any actionare not sited in areas with business and parking lots as the on the project. Only design review by the Planning Departmentpredominant neighbors. Thus, there was no ‘community benefit’ should be necessary.”4or ‘good neighbor’ agreement found on record. The next casewill demonstrate how dynamics change when a facility is sited The Developer and Property Acquisitionin an established neighborhood. Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is a non-profit organization established in 1984, their aim is to end and preventCase: The Renaissance Uptown homelessness. When purchasing sites for permanent housing, The siting process for Renaissance Uptown began in CCH will use zoning rights that allow for dense, mixed-useJune of 2008 with the first community meeting led by the living situations. The properties are acquired upfront prior toColorado Coalition for the Homeless. In January of 2011 the gaining approval from the neighborhood. Economically, this isdoors for this LEED certified facility, located on Colfax Ave. and the best method for purchasing land. If an entity in thePearl St., were opened to new residents. It’s a 98-unit residential neighborhood discovers details of the purchase, a second buyerfacility, with commercial/retail space on the first floor that may potentially be offered who would be willing to purchase theprovides job training for residents.3 site for more money. After the land has been purchased, the A location for permanent housing is chosen based on developer creates blueprints and plans for the building andthe needs of the population being addressed. The chronically presents the information in tangible displays to the community.5homeless will likely be placed in an urban setting, where access Once the community has been informed to CCH’s plans for a2What We Do: Renaissance at Civic Center Apartments. (n.d.). Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved from “, Vanessa. “CCH details ‘Renaissance Uptown Lofts’.” Life on Capitol Hill [Denver] n.d. 2. Web. <>4Martin, Vanessa. “CCH details ‘Renaissance Uptown Lofts’.” Life on Capitol Hill [Denver] n.d. 2. Web. <>5 Windsor Interview, 2012
  13. 13. Case Studies in Housing First | 11development, the developer asks for an invitation to BID held no objection to the development proposal and noneighborhood and community organizations monthly meetings. businesses vociferously objected the facility. Attempts made toThe Neighborhood Association: Capitol Hill United interview the executive director of CBID were met with noNeighborhoods (CHUN). success. CHUN is a neighborhood association that has been The main opponents of a Housing First facility willrepresenting Capitol Hill and its residents for over 31 years. As a usually be the neighbors or neighborhood associations in closeregistered neighborhood association, they act democratically to proximity to the permanent housing facility. While Rogerinvolve all who care and will participate to improve the quality Armstrong stated, “CHUN’s mission is to support diverseof life in greater Capitol Hill. Acting as a neighborhood housing opportunities,”7 neighbors and Councilwomanadvocate, CHUN will represent its resident’s ideas to City Madison were concerned about the concentration of the 1,000Council, State Legislature, and administrative agencies. The already existing low-income units within a quarter-mile radiusgroup is important to mention because they were a key of the site.8 Other concerns involved the physical aspect of thestakeholder in the development of the Renaissance Uptown. The new facility, such as building design, proper zoning, retailneighborhood associations Executive Director is Roger spaces, parking spaces, and number of units. A key issue for theArmstrong. neighborhood regarding development was the building’s façade, as it was labeled a historic site by CHUN‘s Historic PreservationEngaging the Community Committee.9 The best way to address fears community members Community engagement is an important aspect in siting may have about negative externalities associated with a Housinga facility, and should be done early in the process for optimal First facility in their neighborhood is to take them on a tour ofresults. Typically supporters of permanent housing facilities an already existing facility.within communities are the businesses and business Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ Housing Direct,organizations. In an interview Bill Windsor, Housing Director Bill Windsor, uses the Renaissance at Civic Center facility as thefor CCH, made the statement, “good partners who usually primary example for community members who may expresssupport permanent housing facilities are businesses… [they] concern for having such a facility located in the vicinity. Therealize that development of [Housing First] facilities brings Coalition will provide uneasy community members tours of thiscommercial activity to the area, and enhances economicactivity.”6 In the instance of the Renaissance Uptown, the Colfax6 Windsor Interview, 20127 Armstrong Interview, 20128Martin, Vanessa. “CCH details ‘Renaissance Uptown Lofts’.” Life on Capitol Hill [Denver] n.d. 2. Web. <>9Martin, Vanessa. “CCH details ‘Renaissance Uptown Lofts’.” Life on Capitol Hill [Denver] n.d. 2. Web. <>
  14. 14. Case Studies in Housing First | 12facility, as well as, introduce them to neighbors of the existing the retail space were a 7/11, and Pizza Fusion, a pizzeria. Pizzafacility to quell fears. Windsor was pleased to highlight the fact Fusion is owned by a subsidiary of CCH, and is a place Housingthat the YMCA serves as a children’s camp during the summer, First residents are able to receive job training. Third, anand that no child has ever been harmed by the residents living Advisory Panel was created for on-going communicationabove.10 between the developer and neighborhood. “After meeting with To address the variety of concerns held by neighbors, local associations during the development phase, CCH will offerthe Colorado Coalition for Homeless held a community an invitation to join an advisory group. The advisory group is ameeting June 24, 2008 regarding the development of collaboration of community members, neighborhoodRenaissance Uptown. Parties at the table included City associations, and the developer that meets regularly after theCouncilwomen Jeanne Robb and Carla Madison, CHUN, The Housing First facility is developed and is fully functioning.”11Unsinkables (an anti-crime community group in Capitol Hill), Armstrong thought the developer had properlyand CCH. The meeting served as an opportunity for all parties addressed the neighborhood and community in development ofto provide input into the buildings development. Renaissance Uptown. During the siting process, “CHUN worked with developers and the community, to bring bothOutcome together what the developer wanted to do and address the The outcome of the community meeting held in 2008 neighborhood’s concerns.”12 The community did not oppose thelead to a good neighbor agreement held between the developer project. In fact, John Parvensky, Executive Director of CCHand the neighborhood. The agreement was constructed by CCH received a “Homelessness and Affordable Housing Goodand addresses the community’s specific concerns regarding Neighbor Award” from CHUN in January of 2011. ArmstrongRenaissance Uptown. was quoted, “You and your organization have been pioneers in First, concerns of the historic façade were addressed by creating affordable housing and services to the homeless thatthe architect, Humphries Poli Architects. The firm constructed a sensitively integrate into and compliment the communities theybuilding model that replicated and would still maintain the are located in.”131923 façade. Second, requirements were made for the additionof retail spaces on the first floor. CCH relayed the task of Construction of Good Neighbor Agreementsparking spaces and type of business to those who bought their For construction of a good neighbor agreement theway into the units. Major commercial activity that bought into developer and community representatives (neighborhood10 Windsor Interview, 201211 Windsor Interview, 201212 Armstrong Interview, 2012 Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN) Honors Colorado Coalition for the Homeless During Annual Awards Dinner. (2011, January 6). Colorado Coalition for the13Homeless. Retrieved from “”
  15. 15. Case Studies in Housing First | 13association) need to engage in a discussion, reciprocating equal which is a signal that any neighborhood input isand respectful communication. DenverINC is a neighborhood irrelevant. Neighbors generally oppose any projects thatassociation comprised of over 100 neighborhoods whose they perceive are “sneaking in,” even if no contact ismission is “to advocate for Denver citizens by bringing together, legally required. Early contact disarms muchinfor ming and emp ower ing D enver neig hb orho o d opposition.organizations to actively engage in addressing City issues.”14 2. Honest communication. Misleading statements orMichael Henry, Chair on the Zoning and Planning Committee partial truths poison relationships with neighbors.of DenverINC, urged enhancing developer and neighborhood 3. Thoughtful explanation of the need for such aassociation’s relations through a good neighbor agreement. development in this neighborhood, the type of persons“Good Neighbor Agreements are instruments that provide a targeted to be served and the general size of thevehicle for community organizations and a [developer] to developmentrecognize and formalize their roles within a locality. The 4. Recognition that some neighborhoods rightfully believepurpose of these agreements is to foster sustainable that they are over-saturated with housing for specialdevelopment in a community by reconciling economic populations, coupled with a genuine effort to locate indevelopment with the communitys welfare, including the health areas that are not over-saturated.of its environment and its individual members.”15 Henry told a 5. Continuing contact with immediate neighbors andstory of a siting process gone awry in a siting of a Five Points neighborhood groups as plans and constructionneighborhood permanent housing facility. The developer didn’t progress. If plans change, that should be discussed withinitially engage the community and used an authoritative tone neighbors.when discussing the plans for the facility’s development. The 6. Genuine attempt to work with entire community andrelationship was later salvaged after six to eight months of not try to pit one community group against another.battling by entering into a good neighbor agreement. Outlined 7. Willingness to enter into a written “good neighborbelow are Henry’s steps to success for good neighbor relations a g re e m e nt” w it h i m m e d i at e n e i g hb or s an din affordable housing communities: neighborhood groups. The most frequent and legitimate 1. Early contact with immediate neighbors and adjacent subjects of such an agreement are: neighborhood organizations. Usually a city or county a) description and/or drawings of the form and planning department will be able to identify key contact architecture of the building. Obviously, neighbors persons for neighborhood groups. The first contact want a development that is attractive and that should be well before the design plans are finalized. generally fits into the context of the neighborhood. Neighbors are resentful if developers unveil final plans,14 INC Mission Statement. (n.d.). DenverINC. Retrieved from “”15 Lewis, Sanford, and Diane Henkels. 1996. Good neighbor agreements: A tool for environmental and social justice. Social Justice 23 (4): 134-51.
  16. 16. Case Studies in Housing First | 14 b) description of the income-level and/or type of in the development process very early on. The developer was individuals to be ser ved. (Note that most open to hearing their insights into physical design and neighborhoods much prefer mixed-income persons operations of the facility. This process allowed residents to or families) accept the facility, as they were given the amount of engagement c) description of how residents will be selected and/or necessary to locate permanent housing their community. To screened address the fears a community may have in regards to this type d) description of how the property will be maintained, of development, provide tours of existing facilities and arrange landscaped, etc meetings with that facility’s neighbors to better understand e) description of level of staffing for the project. some fears may be unfounded. These scheduled visits will Generally, neighbors prefer at least one resident provide opportunity to show worried residents that Housing manager or staff at all times. First facilities, indeed, are not going to degrade the f) description of how security will be maintained neighborhood. g) description of what controls will be in place to Opportunities for open discussion must be available as remove a dangerous or disruptive tenant – such as a exhibited in the Renaissance Uptown case, via community no-crime lease agreement meetings and the induction of an advisory panel. Another h) agreement to meet every few months after the important factor for communities facing a new permanent opening to discuss any possible issues – possibly housing facility is the perception of social enhancement. This through a designated neighborhood advisory group idea is illustrated when residents are able to understand, “[a] i) communication to neighbors of contact information benefit to the community is that these permanent housing for the manager in case issues arise facilities are addressing the roots of homelessness. By providing 8. Open house for neighbors soon after the facility opens a place for people to live, there will be fewer homeless folks 9. Participation by the manager and residents in sleeping in the neighborhoods, alleys, and in front of businesses. neighborhood association meetings and activities. Also, by providing help for the homeless, fewer tax payer dollars will be spent on police, court costs, jail, mental health services,Conclusion and negative externalities associated with homelessness.”16 If a CCH, the developer, engaged the community after the community is heard, and in return are able to understand suchsite had been purchased and had developed a plan for a housing facilities can be a win-win situation, they will be moreHousing First facility. The community was introduced to the likely to work alongside the developer.development plans during a community meeting, and wasprovided the opportunity to express their thoughts. Successcame from the fact that residents of Capitol Hill were engaged16 Windsor Interview, 2012
  17. 17. Emerson NorthMinneapolis, MN Annalisa McDaniel
  18. 18. Case Studies in Housing First | 16Introduction within the state, are creatively seeking solutions to end The following report provides an account of a recent site homelessness in their jurisdictions. Hennepin County islocation dispute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The report following the Housing First strategy provide safe homes forprovides examples of strategies that have eased local opposition chronically homeless individuals and families. In Minneapolis,to a proposed multifamily development that includes Housing Housing First units are located in developments that include aFirst units. This paper analyzes the actions of the Plymouth combination of supportive housing, workforce or market rateChurch Neighborhood Foundation (PCNF), a nonprofit units.developer, and the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council Unlike other areas throughout the country, neither(NRRC), the Near North/Willard-Hay neighborhood Hennepin County nor Minneapolis Housing Authorityorganization, during the beginning phases of the Emerson constructs Housing First facilities. The County partners withNorth multifamily development. PCNF has proactively engaged housing service providers, community landlords, business, faiththe community from the beginning, and as a result the and advocacy leaders to provide housing first units fordeveloper has received community support for their project individuals and families .3despite initial pushback from some community members. Under Minnesotas Group Residential Housing (GRH) Statute, the State subsidizes, or often times fully covers, rentMinnesotas Strategy payments for chronically homeless individuals. Individuals In 2006 the state of Minnesota, along with over 300 qualify for support due to metal health issues, disabilities,states, cities, and counties throughout the Nation, created a ten- addiction, Native American heritage, or are single women withyear plan to end homelessness.1 Heading Home Hennepin is a children. Many nonprofit and religious organizations thatcomponent of the statewide plan that is specifically focused on provide housing for the homeless and develop Housing FirstHennepin County and Minneapolis, its largest city. Housing facilities receive their tenants monthly rent payments directlyFirst is a cornerstone of the ten-year plan. Prevention, outreach, from the State of Minnesota.service delivery improvement, self-support capacity building, Construction of new housing units is absolutely essentialand systems improvements are additional strategies to address because the state is actively trying to address homelessness andhomelessness emphasized in the plan.2 move homeless individuals and families in to safe, clean, and The ambitious plan puts Hennepin County at the well-kept housing. Despite the demand, affordable/workforceforefront of the movement to end homelessness. The State of housing facilities, homeless shelters, and Housing First facilitiesMinnesota, as well as the counties and local municipalities1Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis Commission to End Homelessness. (2006). Heading Home Hennepin: The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Minneapolis andHennepin County.2Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis Commission to End Homelessness. (2006). Heading Home Hennepin: The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Minneapolis andHennepin County.3 Hennepin County. (2012). Hennepin County Fact Sheet, Housing First Partnership.
  19. 19. Case Studies in Housing First | 17are invariably magnets for controversy and are often difficult to tornado. The site is surrounded by residential land uses and issite. located a block from West Broadway Avenue, a major On May 22, 2011 a tornado damaged 500 units of commercial corridor.affordable housing stock in the North Minneapolis The development is located in the Near Northneighborhood. The damaged housing units were predominantly Minneapolis neighborhood, which is racially and ethnicallyolder, inefficient duplex and multiunit houses. The Emerson diverse. Near North Minneapolis has traditionally been aNorth development was proposed in June 2011 as a direct working class neighborhood. Residents have a lower averageresponse to the loss of affordable housing units in the household income than the City of Minneapolis as a whole.neighborhood. Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation The residents of the Old Highland neighborhood directlyowns a parcel of land at 1800-1826 Emerson Avenue North in surrounding the Emerson North development site are morethe neighborhood damaged by the tornado. An old grocery affluent compared to the larger neighborhood and arestore is currently located on the project site and houses an predominantly white. Homeowners in Old Highland haveoperating day center for homeless families. invested significantly in renovating their large Victorian homes. Emerson North was initially proposed as a 48-unit The residents are well organized and many are active in theapartment complex, the number of units has since been reduced Democratic Party.6 Democratic U.S. Congressman Keith Ellisonto 41. Twelve units are reserved for formerly homeless families is a resident of the neighborhood and a supporter of the project.and preference will be given to families affected by the tornado.4 PCNFs Community Engagement StrategyIn Minneapolis, approval for supportive housing requires only a Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation is aconditional use permit. Supportive housing is a use by right in nonprofit faith based housing developer. Through its work,the majority of residential and commercial districts including PCNF has gained the support of many congregations in thethe area where Emerson North is proposed.5 The parcels are Twin Cities area. Because PCNF is well connected withcurrently zoned for moderate density housing and the day churches, the first stages of community outreach began withcenter is therefore a nonconforming use. (A nonconforming use Near North neighborhood congregations. After initial outreachis a use that is not allowed by right and requires a zoning was conducted, six churches came together to create a task-forcevariance or a special use permit to operate.) dedicated to moving the Emerson North project forward. The PCNF viewed their property as an ideal location for a participating congregations were multi-racial and multi-faithdevelopment that combined the existing day center, permanent and included a Catholic Church, an African American Mosque,housing units for formerly homeless families using the day an African American Pentecostal Church, a Missionary Baptistcenter, and workforce housing to help those affect by the Church, and a Presbyterian Church. PCNF made an effort to4 PCNF. (2012). Emerson North. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation: Smoley, J. (2012, April 13). City Planner, City of Minneapolis. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)6 Israel, I. (2012, April 17). Interim Director, Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)
  20. 20. Case Studies in Housing First | 18gain the support of congregations that reflected the diversity of services and Emerson North would further burden thethe neighborhood. Later in the process, local church leaders neighborhood. The addition of over 200 new tenants was alsohelped encourage greater community participation. Church concerning to existing residents of the neighborhood, theyleaders were able to convey to their congregations the viewed the development as too large.9importance of attending community meetings in support of After receiving opposition from the nearest residentsEmerson North. and support from the overall neighborhood, the NRRC Board P C N F appro a c h e d t h e Nor t hs i d e R e s i d e nt s decided to neither support nor oppose the development. TheRedevelopment Council in August 2011 and asked the group to Board took a neutral stance with the caveat that they wouldsubmit a letter of support for Emerson North to the City of support the project if PCNF would enter into a legally bindingMinneapolis. A letter of support was needed to receive grants Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). As PCNF is committedfrom the City and Low Income Housing Tax Credits allocated to constructing housing to help end homelessness, theby Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. NRRC arranged a developer agreed to negotiate with NRRC in order to gain thecommunity meeting in September 2011 to assess support for the neighborhood organizations support.project. Residents of the Old Highland neighborhood voted 44 According to Allison Johnson, Congregationalto 11 in opposition to the project.7 According to Ishmael Partnership Organizer with PCNF, a subcommittee was formedIsrael, the Interim Director of NRRC, the residents nearest to to negotiate the CBA. The subcommittee held over ten meetingsthe project were the least supportive and the most organized. and dedicated hundreds of hours to the negotiation process.10Residents of the larger neighborhood voted 85 to 20 in support The CBA was negotiated with the help of a third party, theof the development.8 Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. The Alliance for The vocal minority skewed the broader neighborhoods Metropolitan Stability promotes local participation inposition on the project. The opposition group suggested that development and helps communities link development withnew owner-occupied units should be developed instead of localizes benefits.11 The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability hasrental units. Many residents of Old Highland believed that their advised other nonprofit groups, and a facilitator from theneighborhood was home to more than their fair share of social7Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (2011, October 3). September Board Meeting Minutes (unofficial). Retrieved April 13, 2011, from Northside ResidentsRedevelopment Council website: meeting-minutes-unofficial/8Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (2011, October 3). September Board Meeting Minutes (unofficial). Retrieved April 13, 2011, from Northside ResidentsRedevelopment Council website: meeting-minutes-unofficial/9Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (2011, October 3). September Board Meeting Minutes (unofficial). Retrieved April 13, 2011, from Northside ResidentsRedevelopment Council website: meeting-minutes-unofficial/10 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer) Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. (2008, October 10). Community Benefit Agreements. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from Alliance for Metropolitan Stability11website:
  21. 21. Case Studies in Housing First | 19organization guided NRRC and PCNF through the CBA In the end, the board members vote in support of Emersonnegotiation process. North was needed for NRRC to accept the CBA. The developers willingness to negotiate a CBA has been A draft of the Community Benefits Agreement wasthe key factor in garnering neighborhood support for the accepted by the NRRC Board at a meeting that took place onproject. A draft of the Community Benefits Agreement is April 16, 2012. Approximately 100 people attended the meeting,attached in the Appendix. Several items were negotiated during and the majority of attendants supported the development.13the process. The number of units was reduced from 48 to 41 to Minneapolis Ward 6 City Councilman Robert Lilligrenbetter integrate with the neighborhoods exiting character. is an important stakeholder that was absent during theMinority and women owned business requirements for negotiation process. U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison was a vocalconstruction and operation of Emerson North were increased. supporter of Emerson North, but the NRRC felt it needed the The CBA contains more than developer concessions, support of their councilperson as well. Alliance HousingNRRC has a responsibility to maintain engagement with the Incorporated Director Herb Frey stated outright in an interviewdeveloper and identify potential tenants that were displaced by that a councilpersons support can make or break a project.14the tornado. A lasting affect of the CBA is the creation of an Cultivating support in City Council is critical for the success ofAdvisory Group to include representation from NRRC, a both nonprofit housing developers and neighborhoodneighbor at large, a PCNF staff person, the property manager, associations.and a tenant. Maintaining a relationship between all parties iscritical to the projects long-term success and acceptance. The Important TakeawaysAdvisory Group is required to meet at least once a year for PCNFs approach to community engagement is whatthirty years. helped them gain neighborhood support for their project. The process of negotiating the CBA helped change the Engaging with a diverse group of stakeholders was a successfulopinion of some community members and NRRC Board strategy for the developer. The support of local religious leadersmembers. One particular board member was initially very helped increase the number of residents that attended publicvocally opposed to the development. Participating in the meetings in support of the project. Continuing the existingnegotiation process and building trust with the developer relationship with local congregations will also help thethrough communication changed this particular individuals developer maintain contact with the neighborhood after thestance from opposed to the project to in favor of the project.12 project is completed.12 Israel, I. (2012, April 17). Interim Director, Northside Residents Redevelopment Council. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)13 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)14 Frey, H. (2012, April 10). Director, Alliance Housing Incorporated. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)
  22. 22. Case Studies in Housing First | 20 While some developers prefer to fly under the radar and need full community support to move the project through thesite supportive housing and Housing First units in entitlement process. Nevertheless, the developer was willing toneighborhoods with low property values and concentrated dedicate significant resources to the negotiation process. PCNFpoverty, PCNF makes it a priority to place affordable and did not have to reduce the number of units in the building, butsupportive housing units in all neighborhoods.15 This strategy, they did so to appease the public. Meaningful engagementwhich mirrors the City of Minneapolis overall strategy, requires between the developer and the neighborhood organizationPCNF to have a clearly articulated response to objections created a beneficial result for both parties. This will not be aregarding increased concentration of poverty. Congressman one-off success for the community; rather the neighborhoodEllison addressed this concern at a public meeting held about organization is now more empowered to participate in theEmerson North. By supporting housing for the homeless and development process. NRRC is in the process of creatingproviding safe places for homeless families to live, the statewide Community Benefits Agreement Council to aid othercommunity is helping to break the cycle of poverty and nonprofit neighborhood associations in Minnesota. By creatingultimately de-concentrating poverty. When the homeless have a a framework for Community Benefits Agreements, NRRCplace to live, they are taken off the street and have the hopes to empower other community groups and help themopportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. When people are understand that they can play a meaningful role in developmentsafely housed, they are no longer homeless; therefore they do that occurs in their neighborhoods.not increase the concentration of homelessness. This concept should be communicated effectively to thecommunity at the beginning of any siting process, and theimportance of messaging should not be understated. Individualsare not destined to always be poor or homeless, individuals areexperiencing homelessness and poverty. PCNF admitted thismessage was overlooked and undervalued even though theybelieve they tried to explain it to neighborhood residents.16 Themore time that passed, the harder the message was to convey.PCNF had to make a concerted effort to explain this mission tothe community. A final factor that contributed to neighborhoodacceptance of Emerson North was the willingness of thedeveloper to negotiate with the community. PCNF likely did not15 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)16 Johnson, A. (2012, April 18). Congregational Partnership Organizer, Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. (A. McDaniel, Interviewer)
  23. 23. The Cuyahoga CountyHousing First Initiative Cleveland, OH Evan Carver
  24. 24. Case Studies in Housing First | 22Introduction cities and charitable organizations try to deal with the ever- Ralph DePalma poses in front of his modest kitchen, a increasing problem of chronic homelessness. While manyfew photos of family members tacked to the cabinets behind people can agree that their fellow citizens should have shelter, ithim. His close-cropped beard and plain t-shirt betray a modest is much more difficult to agree on how and especially where toself-confidence. During a prior economic downturn, Ralph lost provide this shelter. This paper attempts to shed more light onhis job and then his suburban home, and wound up on the the Housing First Initiative in Cleveland, both its successes andstreets. For three years, Ralph was homeless. But now he lives failures, and to focus on the process of intelligently choosingin this studio apartment at South Pointe Commons, an 82-unit sites, winning political support, and engaging neighbors. It isbuilding that is part of Cleveland’s Housing First Initiative. hoped that other communities will look to Cleveland, whereHousing First literally “saved my life,” says Ralph. And the successes outnumber failures, and take useful lessons in order toeffects on the neighborhood of this $12.2 million investment are avoid conflict and further their efforts to end chronicvisibly evident everywhere, in the new South Pointe Commons homelessness.complex itself, a combination of rehabilitated townhomes and abrand new building with a café on the ground floor, and in the Housing Programs in Cleveland and Cuyahoga Countysurrounding area where neighbors have improved their own The public housing movement in the United States dateshomes in response.1 to the 1920s and 1930s. Ohio, especially Cleveland, with its A few miles away, in the diverse Ohio City dense population of vulnerable industrial workers, was amongneighborhood, former councilwoman Helen Smith does not like the first places to recognize the need for public housing. Inthe idea of a facility like South Pointe moving in. Ohio City 1933, Cleveland hosted the first national conference on housing,already has its share of homeless services, and it is revitalizing and Ohio state representative Ernest Bohn was named the firston its own, she claims. Other locals point out that homeless President of the National Association of Housing Officials. Thepeople already congregate in Frank Novak Park; bringing more same year, the Cleveland Housing Authority was created, theto the area would only exacerbate the problem.2 first of its kind in the nation.3 Throughout the subsequent This tension – with success stories like South Pointe on decades, the Cleveland remained both a place with seriousone side, and resistance from local residents on the other – has public housing needs as well as test case for new approaches toarisen repeatedly across Cleveland and across the country as address those needs. Many mayors, including notably Carl1Joe Frolik. 22 August 2011. “Permanent supportive housing is more than a place for people to live; it’s a chance to reconnect.” Cleveland Plain Dealer. Accessed online: Frolik. 22 August 2011. “Permanent supportive housing is more than a place for people to live; it’s a chance to reconnect.” Cleveland Plain Dealer. Accessed online: William Donahue Ellis. 1998. The Cuyahoga. Cleveland, Ohio: MSL Academic.
  25. 25. Case Studies in Housing First | 23Stokes, Cleveland’s first black mayor, and current mayor Frank treatment, PSH is colloquially called housing first.) EnterpriseG. Jackson, have made urban revitalization central to their brought together a coalition of several large, well-establishedcampaigns and tenures.4 Equally important is Cleveland’s long charitable service organizations in the area. The Sisters ofhistory of grass roots, neighborhood-level social justice Charity Foundation of Greater Cleveland would provide most ofactivism, most obvious in block groups, which can focus on the initial funding; the Cleveland Housing Network (CHN)issues like living conditions, housing, community organization, would serve as lead property developer; EDEN, Inc., would beand safety. Especially since the 1960s, inspired by the election co-developer and would manage the property; Mental Healthof Mayor Stokes and the world-wide social movements of the Services, Inc. (MHS), would be the in-house service provider.time, this kind of highly localized involvement in neighborhood Since 2003, the coalition, known as the Housing First Initiative,social issues has characterized the city’s struggle against has built seven facilities, housing over 500 residents, and planspostindustrial urban decay. It is against this 80-year history of to house a total of 1,000 within the next few years.activism and political involvement that the “Housing First” The nature of this coalition is central to what is nowconcept came to Cleveland. among the most successful PSH programs in the country. Each of the partners has a history of successful work in the region,The Housing First Initiative in Cleveland: A Robust Coalition and each has a degree of prestige in the public eye because of Following years of research nationwide on permanent this. By demonstrating that the best organizations would besupportive housing (PSH), the first efforts to implement a involved, and that each would focus on its specialty, fundingsimilar model in Cleveland began in 2001. Enterprise Housing sources and the public could be reassured of performance andSolutions, Inc., a national non-profit dedicated to housing, accountability. Most importantly in terms of public engagementpartnered with the Sisters of Charity Foundation to explore the was the presence of Enterprise as organizer. Kate Monterfeasibility of a program that placed chronically homeless Durban of CHN explains, “The beauty of having Enterprise takeindividuals directly into a permanent apartment space. At the the lead, is that they would be on doing the research, thesame time, research specific to Cleveland demonstrated the evidence-based practice, the public outreach, taking people tovalue of housing individuals directly, prior to any temporary Chicago and New York [to tour similar facilities]. It helped tohousing or the mental or substance interventions commonly have some breathing room”.6required.5 (Because of the way it gives primacy to shelter above4Case Western Reserve University. 1997. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Cleveland, Ohio: Case Western Reserve University. Accessed online: Hertzler Burkholder and Kathryn Wertheim Hexter. 2002. “Housing first: Demonstrating the need for permanent supportive housing.” Cleveland State University.(unpublished).6 interview, 16 April 2012
  26. 26. Case Studies in Housing First | 24Choosing the Right Site: Three Cases and Many Lessons For the council members, the Initiative would3010 Euclid Avenue emphasize economic benefits. A new building is often an The first site targeted by the Housing First Initiative was investment of at least $10 million, an undeniable anchorat 3010 Euclid Avenue, close to the campuses of Cleveland State development in any neighborhood, and even more so in aUniversity and Cuyahoga Community College as well as the neighborhood like Detroit Shoreway. Some neighborhoods doSisters of Charity Hospital. Opposition quickly surfaced. The not have other compelling options for revitalization. As muchInitiative did not have support from the local councilperson, as some locals might rather have a luxury residential building,and thus had trouble gaining the support of the local as CHN representative Kate Monter Durban put it, “The condocommunity.7 The site had to be abandoned. people just aren’t coming.” Councilman Matt Zone was won The Initiative had not recognized how important the over by these arguments and preceded to help the Initiative withlocal councilperson’s influence is in Cleveland. While block its community outreach.groups and other neighborhood organizations have tremendous For community members, the focus was educationorganizational capacity, the ward representative on the city about PSH. Community meetings and block group meetingscouncil wields great power of the pulpit. With his or her were primary occasions for presenting information, but door-endorsement, residents, businesses, and other political to-door canvassing was also important. The Initiative educatedrepresentatives tend to fall in line behind a project or initiative. locals about the efficacy of the PSH approach, but alsoIn the future, the Initiative would have to work harder to ensure emphasized the reliability and accountability of the servicethe backing of the councilperson. providers. Entrance to the building is tightly controlled, staff is on-site 24 hours a day, and there is always someone to answer aEmerald Commons call from a concerned neighbor. The Initiative also emphasized A second targeted site, in the Detroit Shoreway the peripheral safety improvements for the neighborhood, suchneighborhood on Cleveland’s west side, became the first facility as the benefits of having exterior cameras that would help cutto be successfully realized. The Initiative hired a consulting down on any unwanted street activity around the rest of theteam, lead by Andy Goodman and Edge Research, which block where the facility is located. It was also important that thedetermined that while some council members already facility itself fit in as much as possible, both in terms of usagesupported the idea of PSH, they were leery of hosting a facility and architectural context; the Initiative therefore took toin their own ward. Goodman conducted focus groups with involving the community in the design process, informally atcommunity members on messaging, and helped the Initiative first but through a community advisory committee in sitingdevelop marketing materials to help convince both citizens and subsequent facilities in other neighborhoods.representatives of the value of a local PSH facility.7Tom Albanese, Judith Feins, Nichole Fiore, and Emily Holt (Abt Associates, Inc.). 2010. “Phase One Process Evaluation of the Cuyahoga County Housing First Initiative.”Bethesda, Md.
  27. 27. Case Studies in Housing First | 25Ohio City the site, the city had held a design charette to get public input on Since Emerald Commons opened in 2003, the Housing the revitalization of the neighborhood. Since no mention wasFirst Initiative opened six other facilities and provided stable made of the PSH facility, which had not been optioned by CHN,housing to nearly 500 formerly homeless Clevelanders. With some community members felt “the charette had been athis sterling track record, in late 2011 they targeted a location in charade.”9 Following the formal announcement, the InitiativeOhio City, a diverse, gentrifying area in central Cleveland. Ohio only had several weeks to rally support before the proposalCity has a long history of both inadequate housing and mission- would go to the state housing board, which would decidedriven, social justice advocates migrating from other parts of whether to grant the project the essential federal low incomethe city.8 But it also has seen less altruistic gentrification, and housing tax credit.there is a sense among some that “they’re doing the city a huge Despite this inauspicious start, the Initiative and Ohiofavor by bringing themselves and their money into a City, Inc., whose leadership wanted the facility, undertook thecommunity, and they believe they should be able to say who same community outreach tactics as employed at prior sites intheir neighbors are.” Cleveland: orchestrating tours of existing facilities, convening The specific location was to be on the site of a derelict with local business owners, visiting block club meetings to talkHollywood Video building. Not only is the building one-on-one, engaging locals in the design process. Accordingunoccupied, its suburban style is out of context with the mixed- to Luis Hernandez, this outreach was quite successful. “A lot ofuse buildings on the main streets and the row houses that residents changed their mind once they toured a facility and gotcharacterize the rest of the neighborhood. In short, the location to know what it was. We would talk to occupants, have thesewas ripe for intelligent reuse. The proposed site was close to the really awesome encounters, and hear these really awesomeboundary between two council wards. While both Councilman stories.” The opposition maintained that the street was too busy;Zone, whose ward closely bordered the proposed site and who that Ohio City already had its fair share of supportive services;by now had become among the city’s most outspoken PSH that the area was already improving on its own and did not needadvocates, and Councilman Joe Cimperman, in whose ward the this investment. Even the collaborative design process wasfacility would actually be located, were strongly in support of fraught. “The problem is they have a lot of architects in Ohiothe facility, it met heavy local resistance. For one, there City!” explains Joe Frolik. Ultimately, the Ohio City, Inc., boardhappened to be some former statewide elected office holders on voted narrowly in support of the facility.the board of Ohio City, Inc., the most powerful neighborhood Yet when the proposal went before the state board, it wasorganization, and they sided with the opposition. There was denied funding. The board is not required to explain itssome unfortunate timing to the proposal, as well. Only a few reasoning, so it will never be entirely clear why this proposalweeks before the Initiative announced its intention to develop failed. Proponents suspect the decision had more to do with the8 Luis Hernandez, interview, 11 April 20129 Joe Frolik, interview, 11 April 2012
  28. 28. Case Studies in Housing First | 26fact that Cleveland has gotten a lot of federal money in recent has a ward-based governance structure, which, in contrast toyears and the board wanted to distribute future funds more cities with at-large representatives, confers tremendous powerevenly throughout the state. Despite support from local over neighborhood political discourse to the wardpoliticians and a majority of the neighbors, there will be no new representative. This power is both pulpit power, to set thehousing first facility in Ohio City in the near future. agenda, but is also real in that the council has ultimate say over issues like rezoning. As Monter Durban put it, “Until we haveThe Dynamics of Engagement local support from the council person, we don’t have anything.” The numerous successful facilities built by the Cuyahoga While other cities may not have the same power dynamics atCounty Housing First Initiative, along with a couple notable play, there is no question that strong political support isfailures, describe together a compelling strategy for siting and necessary for successful citation – and that having a politiciandeveloping PSH in complex neighborhood situations. This against a project kills it immediately. And it is not necessary astrategy has four key components: the coalition and its simple matter, even in a city with a climate as favorable to PSHleadership; securing political support; intelligent site selection; as Cleveland has become. Each case will require a councilcommunity education and engagement; and timing. person seriously considering the implications of bringing even a proposal for a facility to the public. “The political capital eachCoalition and Leadership of these guys was willing to put on the line was incredible,” says The importance of a strong coalition was mentioned Monter Durban.above, but it is worth reemphasizing. In order to present acompelling case to a public that is not familiar with PSH, it is Intelligent Site Selectionimportant that recognizable and respected existing partners be Early on, the Initiative developed relatively strict criteriainvolved. But is essential to first get these partners on board. for its sites in order to assure the best outcomes for occupants:Since the PSH approach is still relatively new, many service there must be public transit very close, all necessary servicesproviders will need to be convinced of its efficacy. In Cleveland, must be on-site or very close, all necessary amenities likeEnterprise brought in specialists from other cities like New York grocery stores must be within a short bus ride, other housingand Chicago to hold forums with stakeholders. Written facilities should not be too close yet it should be in a part ofresearch is important to educating potential coalition members, town where potential occupants want to live, to name only a fewbut so is the opportunity for direct dialogue. examples. Beyond these basic criteria, the Initiative takes a more sophisticated approach to picking a site for development.Political Support Given the importance of the ward-based governance, the Potentially the most important factor then becomes Initiative usually begins the site selection process with thegetting the support of the council person. Cleveland’s recent council member. Sometimes the Initiative identifies a generalmayors have all been advocates of PSH as part of city health, but area where a facility is desired, other times a council memberthe mayor is less important in specific site selection. Cleveland approaches Enterprise requesting a facility for his ward. This is