Every community has a stake in affordable housing. There are many organizations, groups, and individuals within communities who are willing to help increase the supply of affordable housing. The issue is that these groups are sometimes not engaged and do not understand the role they can play. Mobilizing and engaging these groups can lead to unexpectedly good results. Below are a few ways to identify valuable assistance and housing resources within your community.
- Engage youth. The youth in a community are willing and able to volunteer to help make a community better. They also understand that housing costs are a barrier to independence and are concerned about affordability. Engaging youth almost always yields surprising insight into new ideas and creative solutions.
- Engage the for-profit sector. It is often assumed that for-profit builders are not interested in affordable housing. This is often not true. What they are not interested in is bureaucracy, red tape and the time-consuming process to create affordable housing. Show them a direct path without time-consuming delays and they will respond in a positive way.
- Engage the financial sector. Financial institutions, especially local credit unions, are willing to listen and participate in new, creative solutions to house people in good quality affordable housing. If it makes sense economically in the long run and leads to new clients, they will respond favourably.
- Meet with service clubs. Service clubs are always looking for speakers and willing to assist with both fundraising efforts and sometimes labour. Local issues are of particular importance and service clubs have mandates to provide funding assistance to pressing local issues.
- Faith-based organizations. These organizations usually have a very good grasp of pressing social and housing issues in a community. Another key advantage that faith-based groups have is that many of them have land which is underutilized. Faith-based groups with surplus land may be willing to partner with municipalities to build more affordable housing units.
- Hire a housing coordinator. It is often a mistake to assign affordable housing to existing staff who do not have time to give it proper attention. If the problem is serious enough and is not likely to go away, a dedicated staff resource will lead the efforts needed in a community to address housing issues.
- Partner with a First Nation tribal council. Often, tribal councils will have a deep understanding of the housing needs and deficiencies in a community. They also may have some financial resources to partner with municipalities and builders to increase the supply of good quality affordable housing.
- Celebrate success. It is important to highlight success when it happens. Take every opportunity to ensure the community knows there is a housing issue and it can be solved with positive, successful projects. This motivates people and shows them that large problems can be solved one step at a time.