Local Housing Programs & Partnerships

Slide 1
Hello and welcome to the Fundamentals of Local Housing Programs and Partnerships. My name is Tania O'Conor and I'm a Program Director with Enterprise Community Partners and will be leading today's training. This training is part of the Colorado Division of Housing Local Officials Toolkit. The Division of Housing partners with local communities to create housing opportunities for Coloradans who face the greatest challenges to accessing affordable, safe, and secure homes. DOH supports projects ranging from homelessness prevention to homeownership. The Local Officials Toolkit, a joint project between the DOH, Enterprise Community Partners, and Community Builders, is intended to help local communities identify possible housing opportunities and streamline their processes to achieving housing faster. The toolkit will explain affordable housing in the context of Colorado. Separated into three parts, the toolkit includes affordable housing 101, 201 fundamental modules that includes different topics including today's training on intro to housing programs. These modules will be found online in addition to a set of potential tools, solutions that communities can use and are already using to address housing needs in Colorado.
Slide 2
The purpose of this training is to introduce key types of housing programs and partnerships, and how you, as a local elected official, can support, modify, or establish housing programs that leverage resources and expertise in and outside your community to meet residents housing needs.
Slide 4
Local housing programs usually incorporate a specific combination of tools, resources, and activities to address a particular housing need. At a basic level, most programs include the following components. Staff capacity. Successful housing programs require adequate staff capacity to design, implement, monitor and evaluate programs outcomes over time. Policy programs can be enhanced by thoughtful policy change at the local or statewide level. You can refer to our module on local policy for more information. Programs leverage and are supported by private and public sector resources at the local, state and federal level. Programs are enhanced through collaborative public private partnerships. We will go into more detail about different types of housing program partners in the next slides. Services programs often provide direct services to clients and are designed to positively impact clients or beneficiaries. Some examples of program beneficiaries are residents, tenants, homeowners, those looking for housing, as well as property owners and developers.
Slide 5
This slide lists out some common local housing program examples. Housing rehabilitation programs are designed to provide direct financial or in-kind assistance to homeowners that otherwise would not be able to complete necessary repairs to their homes. Homebuyer support programs provide downpayment assistance and counseling designed to help households achieve and maintain homeownership. Foreclosure prevention programs are designed to prevent housing displacement through financial assistance and counseling. Legal assistance programs can support at-risk renters with difficult housing situations like threat of eviction, fair housing discrimination or landlord harassment. Emergency rental assistance programs offer lifelines to renters facing a crisis that might may result in housing displacement or homelessness. We will go into more detail on local housing programs in the next slides.
Slide 8
The first step in expanding housing programs and partnerships in your locality is to understand what currently exists. Talk with program leads and staff to understand the roles of different partners on a specific program and how they're coordinating. Ask questions about what the programs are supposed to accomplish and how well they are aligned with current housing needs. Seek to understand in what areas have programs been successful and where are they struggling, and really dig into what the barriers are, whether that be funding, staff capacity, outreach, etc. What are opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the programs and overall impact? Also, be sure to ask about any recommendations to inform design of future programs.
Slide 9
There are some basic steps to consider when designing a local housing program. The first step is to understand local housing needs and challenges. A housing assessment will shed light on existing conditions and priority housing needs, enabling partners to develop a housing program that can meet those needs. For more information about conducting a housing assessment, you can reference our module called Groundwork and Positioning. It is critically important to develop an inclusive process for goal and outcome setting. Stakeholder engagement is critical to ensure that your program's goals and outcomes are aligned with community needs, and their support for successful implementation. Ensure that there are a diversity of voices in the room, particularly those who are most impacted by the issue. It may also be helpful to conduct informational interviews with other jurisdictions that have implemented similar programs. When developing a program, it is necessary to identify the lead organization as well as the supporting partner organizations. This may require engaging an existing partner or developing a new relationship. It is important to formalize a partnership structure through partnership agreements such as MOUs that outline roles, timelines and scope of work for each of the partners. Housing programs leverage funding from both the public and private sector. At the local level, there may be opportunities to develop new funding sources for particular progress. Prior to implementation, lead and partner organizations should identify metrics to measure progress towards outcomes over time and develop a data collection and evaluation plan. It's important to ensure that data can be disaggregated by income and race whenever possible, to be able to measure progress towards reducing inequities. When working with multiple partners, it may be necessary to establish data sharing agreements if there are legal or administrative barriers to data sharing.
Slide 10
Local housing programs should be developed to help further a community's affordable housing goals. Specific goals will be dependent on our particular communities' specific needs, and need to have buy-in from community stakeholders. Some examples of housing goals include: housing stability to reduce homelessness, evictions, unstable or transitional housing; housing quality and resilience to ensure adequate, safe and healthy options exist; housing affordability to create options for all income levels, neighborhood context and services that develop community prosperity; and housing that builds assets and wealth through homeownership and other wealth building opportunities, housing that supports target populations like elderly, disabled, BIPOC, or unsheltered populations.
Slide 11
The following table ties together example housing program goals, outcomes, and metrics. Establishing metrics and data sources for the metrics is key to tracking progress towards achieving outcomes over time. When identifying metrics, it's important to consider whether or not the data is publicly available, or if you may need to compile the data yourself. Starting first with the column on the left, the housing stability goal could be furthered by an eviction prevention program. This program's outcomes could include a reduction in evictions and foreclosure, as well as a reduction in homelessness. The metrics to track progress over time could include eviction rates, foreclosure or delinquency rates, as well as the number of people who are homeless over time. Moving to the next row, a tenant based voucher program could help further the housing affordability goal by ensuring that renters at low income levels can access quality affordable housing. This program could aim to reduce housing cost burdens and crowding. The metrics to track the program's success over time could include the percent of households that are housing cost burdened, or those that are overcrowded. Another metric that could be tracked is the number of households that are successful at utilizing the tenant-based rental assistance to find housing. I'll let you take some time to look at the next two rows on your own.
Slide 13
Local housing programs can be designed, implemented, and evaluated by a variety of different organizations within the housing ecosystem. At the local level, the housing ecosystem usually consists of private and nonprofit developers, property owners, advocates, service providers, lenders, and government agencies. They can also include faith based organizations, employers, anchor institutions, education organizations comprising both pre-K through 12 as well as higher education, and philanthropic groups. Effective housing programs often require communities to develop capacity to both stand up and steward initiatives. Elected officials can be instrumental in building thoughtful, regional, and public-private partnerships that help their communities build capacity, access and leverage gap financing and funding strategies, and administer key elements of local housing programs.
Slide 14
Effective housing programs usually require partnerships between multiple actors in the ecosystem. An organization may play a lead role on one specific program but a supporting role on another. Depending on the jurisdiction, organizations may have varying levels of engagement and coordination. And in some cases, intentional efforts must be made to establish and strengthen public-private partnerships to jointly execute on a housing program. In places where there are gaps in the housing ecosystem, local governments can intentionally build up the capacity of existing organizations, or attract outside organizations to play a lead or partnership role on a specific housing program.
Slide 15
Local government agencies play a critical role in leading and partnering on a variety of housing programs. Agencies involved in housing programs can include housing planning or economic development departments, as well as Mayor's office and city council. Local government brings funding resources staff capacity as well as authority to change local policies or processes that can enhance housing program outcomes. Some housing program examples where local government can lead or partner include homeowner rehabilitation assistance, lead abatement programs, as well as emergency rental assistance.
Slide 16
Under federal oversight, public housing agencies play an important role in administering the Public Housing Program and Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8 at the local level. Under certain federal programs like the Moving to Work demonstration, PHAs can have greater flexibility in their use of federal funds to implement innovative programs in partnership with workforce development, education and health organizations in order to meet the needs of their residents or voucher holders. Public Housing Authorities are unique in that they have access to large amounts of federal funds. They often own land as well as the authority to develop and operate properties. Lastly, they also inherently have program participants from their PHA resident pool and tenant-based voucher participants. Some program examples include the Housing Choice Voucher Program and associated supports like Mobility Counseling, as well as the Family Self-Sufficiency Program that supports HUD-assisted households to increase their earnings and build financial assets, as well as the Jobs Plus Initiative Program that combines on site employment services with changes in rent rules and community support for work.
Slide 17
Housing service providers are key players in implementing local housing programs. They often offer supportive services to households living in or desiring to move into affordable units, both rental and for-sale. Programs usually focus on helping residents locate, afford, or maintain housing but can also attend to residents' broader needs, including health, employment, and education. Housing service providers are usually nonprofit or public agencies but can also be for-profit organizations. They often receive funding from local government to implement one or multiple housing programs. Some program examples include Housing Mobility Counseling, the wrap-around services for Permanent Supportive Housing projects, Emergency Rental Assistance, Housing Navigation, as well as on-site services that support residents in areas such as health and education.
Slide 18
Developers, property owners, and managers are key partners in the provision of local housing programs. They can also be the beneficiaries or target audience of local housing programs. These stakeholders are often driven by the bottom line, which can sometimes but not always be at odds with overall affordable housing goals. That said, it's critical that local governments understand their motivations and build strong relationship with these various stakeholders to ensure their buy-in and strong engagement in housing programs. Some housing program examples that involve the stakeholders include Affordable Housing developer capacity building programs, Housing Rehab programs where jurisdictions can sometimes partner with specific local developers to carry out the rehab, Good Landlord programs that provide resources and or incentives to acknowledge and reward strong property management practices, landlord recruitment and retention for Housing Choice Voucher programs designed to address barriers that caused landlords to refuse vouchers as a rent payment, and Rental Assistance programs where landlords can be supportive partners and spreading the word and recruiting program participants.
Slide 19
Local businesses and anchor institutions are recognizing housing as a key constraint for attracting and retaining employees and thus are starting to play an active role in providing and supporting solutions. Support for housing tends to fall into one of a few categories. Number one: direct support to employees through downpayment and other assistance programs. Support for specific development, through subsidizing the development and or providing land. And third, putting money into new existing funds that will support housing development. We've seen this in big dollar investments by tech firms. Historically, the public sector and wealthy tech companies tend to be the organizations that take action, but increasing numbers of other smaller businesses are also taking action. These organizations are key partners and they bring new sources of funding, influence, and leadership land as well as program participants.
Slide 20
The public education sector, from pre-K through 12 to post-secondary institutions, are important players in the housing ecosystem and can lead or partner on a variety of local housing programs. By fostering cross-sector partnerships and aligning housing and educational goals, local officials can improve educational outcomes and upward mobility for students and families. Some example housing programs include on-site or co -located supportive services at a particular housing location, including daycare, afterschool programs, or early childhood family outreach, housing subsidies targeted at students at a particular school, as well as research and program evaluation where a research university could play that role.
Slide 21
In this next section, I will be providing local housing program examples and highlighting the role for local government.
Slide 22
Lead Abatement programs aimed to protect renters and homeowners from lead hazards and contaminated paint and drinking water that can result in significant health risks, particularly for children. Lead paint is a particular risk in homes that were built before 1978, when federal regulations banning lead-based paint in homes went into effect. Abatement initiatives may include free lead testing and remediation activities, financial assistance for lead abatement, and broad education about lead hazards. These programs often target income eligible renters or homeowners and aim to further the housing quality and resilient school to ensure adequate, safe, and healthy options exist. Local governments can implement these programs as program leads or partner with nonprofit service providers. Whether they're playing a lead or supporting role, they can publicize information about the programs and lead hazards in general. These initiatives may also be paired with a local lead ordinance, which can require testing and inspections of lead in homes water and soil and remediation or removal if unsafe lead exposure is found.
Slide 23
Short-term Rental Assistance aims to reduce displacement and or homelessness by supporting vulnerable renters who cannot cover their rent due to unforeseen circumstances, including medical emergencies, sudden rent increases, unexpected loss of a job or other income. Emergency Housing Assistance is most often offered as a direct grant to households to support payment of rent or utilities. This type of assistance may also be used to cover relocation expenses or recovery from eviction. Emergency Assistance programs are designed for crisis intervention, while short-term Rental Assistance programs can be designed with a wider scope. Like time-limited assistance for individuals participating in a workforce training program, local governments can implement the program or fund a nonprofit organization to implement. Either way, they can support the marketing of the program to the most at-risk households. In addition, they can work with partners to identify pathways to longer term solutions that address the underlying causes of instability.
Slide 24
When facing unfair eviction, landlord harassment, fair housing discrimination or hazardous conditions, vulnerable renters may require legal intervention. A nonprofit legal organization can provide programs to expand access to legal support for renters who cannot afford the services or may not know where to look for support. Programs may provide proactive services to educate renters and landlords about their rights, as well as reactive legal representation counseling or assistance. Local governments can provide resources to help fund these legal clinics. They can also leverage relationships with other entities like State government, philanthropy, and anchor institutions to provide additional resources. Some jurisdictions have created a legal right to counsel that guarantees, therefore commits to, funding and finding legal representation for all tenants facing eviction. These programs may result in cost-saving for localities if, for example, they prevent entry into homeless shelters or use of other social services.
Slide 25
Permanent Supportive Housing, known as PSH, is an intervention that aims to support the most vulnerable households, including those experiencing chronic homelessness by combining permanent affordable housing units with access to wrap-around supportive services tailored to meet residents' needs. These projects are usually led by a developer in partnership with a property manager and supportive service provider. These projects target homeless populations as well as other vulnerable residents with high service needs. They aim to further multiple housing goals including housing stability, quality, and affordability. Local governments can support developers pursuing PSH projects through provision of local resources like land, funding or incentives, as well as leveraging relationships with other funders like the federal, state, or philanthropic organizations. They can also streamline local zoning and development regulations for PSH housing to lower costs and prevent NIMBY opposition. Local governments can also play a critical role in supporting PSH with ongoing operating funds, or funding for tenant services to ensure the long term success of the project.
Slide 26
Homeowner rehab programs are designed to help low income or other priority populations fix unsafe conditions in their homes. Such programs can cover a wide variety of repairs, or be tailored to specific needs like aging in place or accessibility modifications. These programs can cover different levels of rehabilitation such as facade improvements, minor repairs, or moderate rehabilitation. Emergency repair programs can support residents with problems that pose an immediate threat, like a broken furnace or water heater, potentially hazardous plumbing and electrical system. Funding usually takes the form of grants, subsidized loans, or in-kind services. Local governments can implement these programs directly or fund a third party. Either way, they should ensure that programs complement existing lending programs that may already be available to support rehabilitation. Jurisdictions can also consider establishing housing rehabilitation codes to streamline the rehab process.
Slide 27
Tenant-based rental assistance or TBRA is a rental subsidy given directly to a person or household and is not tied to a specific residential unit or property. The most common TBRA program is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is administered by Public Housing Authorities and allocated by the federal government. HOME funds, which are also federally-allocated, may be allocated to TBRA as well. In addition to local funding sources, TBRA can be time-limited and linked to supporting residents who are pursuing economic mobility opportunities including higher education. Mobility Counseling is a key aspect to the success of a TBRA program. Local governments can play an important role in administering a TBRA program and/or selecting an entity with strong capacity for administration, such as those with a proven track record of administering TBRA through other funding, or a nonprofit service provider with strong relationships to the target recipients. Local governments can also play an important role dedicating local funds to provide additional TBRA, which can be more flexible to local needs without federal requirements.
Slide 29
Even when a household has enough money for monthly mortgage payments, they can lack the savings required to make a down payment and cover all closing costs when purchasing a home. Downpayment and closing costs assistant assistance programs are often offered to households in the form of a grant or forgivable loan. Most programs target specific population groups like first-time buyers, or buyers within certain income limits. These assistance programs can be offered by a state or local government agency, a nonprofit, a private entity, or a joint partnership. These programs can also be offered by private companies when they are known as Employer Assisted Housing programs or EAH. Local government should ensure that programs complement Colorado Housing Finance Authority's existing Homebuyer Loan and Downpayment Assistance program. Local governments should also work with partners or other programs serving renters to create pathways from rentership to homeownership.
Slide 30
Homeownership education and counseling programs are designed to help households achieve and maintain homeownership. They may take the form of one-on-one coaching group classes or educational campaigns and may be offered in person or online. These programs can focus on pre-purchase education like things to know before becoming a homeowner; post-purchase education like helping current homeowners maintain their home through refinancing options, physical maintenance and upkeep; or both. Some downpayment assistance programs require applicants to complete this type of training or course to be eligible. Local governments often fund nonprofits that provide these services. They can also play an important role in targeting outreach about this kind of program to groups that are underrepresented as homeowners.