Housing@100%: Innovation 10
Developing the City Dept of Housing
The projects presented in the ten innovations areas are all designed to address barriers to vital services. Action teams should review all projects and prioritize those that have the best chance of addressing the barriers identified in the 100% New Mexico countywide survey. Your collaborative and result-focused local work is nothing less than heroic.
Project 1: The “County/City Partnership that funds the Department of Housing” project
Elevator pitch: When Eric was born, his mom should have been able to scan city hall’s website to find all sorts of housing support programs. She should have been able to see a clearly defined menu item called “Housing Options” right next to Police, Fire and Parks. It should not be buried deep in the bowels of the website, because it’s a vital stand-alone department (or should be) and deserves to be treated as such.
Why is this so important? After all, various local housing support programs are often funded in part by county entities, city entities, foundations, nonprofit organizations or multi-county coalitions. In smaller areas, nonprofits are the hub for all housing supports. We are not asking this proposed department to be in charge of putting all housing support in place. It should at the very least regularly evaluate the housing support needs of its constituents, determine if they are adequate and regularly research innovations. This job will look very different depending on the town: for example, it may just take a part-time city manager a few hours per year in the smallest of hamlets. But it’s important work, and it needs to be done by someone who reports to a person who regularly stands for election. Potential partners could include: mayors, city councilors, county commissioners, advocates for affordable housing, mental health professionals, public education professionals and socially-engaged housing industry leaders.
Project 2: The “convene your fellow housing support advocates and enhance your skills in public speaking, committee briefing and how to get to a lawmaker” project
This project is a crash course that you develop with local experts about how to contact local and state leaders, give an elevator pitch on your projects, and the protocol for committee hearings that can lead to funding.
Project 3: The “know your stuff before you meet the mayor” project
Innovation #10, in some ways, is putting it all together. By this we mean that, by the time your action team becomes familiar with all ten innovation areas and their projects, you will be prepared to meet with elected officials and stakeholders to discuss a city strengthening its support of housing security in all its many enriching forms.
Project 4: The “create a bold vision and strategic plan” project
It’s time to create a detailed plan for this new (or improved) local Department of Housing. With previous projects, you will have learned its strengths and weaknesses, potential funding sources and who the players are. You’ll be in a great position to document what’s great, and needs to be kept as it is or expanded, and what needs to change.