Three Questions We Ask at Community Meetings
Community meetings are critical to any local housing planning process. We know a lot more than we used to—thanks to groups like the Frameworks Institute, MacArthur Foundation and Enterprise Community Partners—about how to talk about the challenge of housing affordability to guide the conversation away from myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings.
In our work with local communities, we have also realized how important it is not only to TALK to people in a different way about the importance of housing, but also to actively LISTEN to members of the community and to UNDERSTAND the concerns they have.
In recent community meetings we asked the following three sets of questions:
- Does anyone here know someone who would benefit from lower-cost housing options in the community? Is there a friend or a family member who would like to live here but can’t afford it? Maybe your grown children? Is there someone who works for you – either in a business or in your home – who might live in the community if there were more options?
- Do you have concerns about more affordable or workforce housing options being developed in the community? How does housing availability in the community relate to traffic or school quality? What kinds of changes to the community would you expect if there were different kinds of housing options?
- Do you think there are ways the community can sensibly support workforce housing options? Is increasing density in some parts of the community an option in your opinion? What about dedicated public resources? Do you think public-private partnerships can help facilitate the development of lower-cost housing?
By organizing public meetings around these questions, we allowed members of the community to define the housing affordability challenge on their own terms (question #1). We also give residents the space to voice their concerns without judgement (question #2). Finally, we encourage residents to be part of the solution, without limiting the discussion to our own recommendations (question #3).
This type of outreach is time consuming—but really important. When more residents have their voices heard and have a chance to be part of the process, we are better able to build support for local housing policies and initiatives.
Let us know how we can help build support around expanding housing options in your community. Please reach out!