The solution to a reviving a failed housing market and developing an economically sustainable community comes not from a study outlining the problem or creation of a strategic plan, but rather from the execution of a series of strategic activities.
At Prosperous Communities, we help clients identify the appropriate strategic activities and coach clients through the execution of these activities.
Identify the Problem
The typical beginning for a housing market or economic development intervention occurs at the local level. Community leaders begin to realize that something is amiss. People are having difficulty finding housing they can afford. Businesses and jobs are leaving and are not being replaced.
This leads to a series of questions:
“Are we the only ones having this problem?”
“Is there anything we can do?”
“What are the solutions?”
“What have other communities done?”
“Will those solutions work here?”
“What specific solutions should we implement?”
“How can we make sure we don’t mess this up?”
Dr. Bill Hettinger, the Founder and President of Prosperous can help you find the answers to these questions and guide you through the solutions process.
The housing solutions process includes the following primary activities:
Build Community Awareness
The first and perhaps most critical steps in addressing a housing crisis is building community awareness of the problem. Very often community awareness is built through a daylong housing forum where experts, community leaders, and community members are brought together to describe and discuss the issues.
Dr. Bill can provide not only an engaging keynote for a housing forum, but can also facilitate the solutions discussion with community members.
The next step is typically a housing market study. Housing market studies come is many shapes in sizes. A basic housing market study can be conducted using publically available data from the Census and American Community Survey. This data is often supplemented with local housing and jobs data. A “back of the envelope” study can be performed in house. A university or consultant is often used for a more comprehensive study.
In resort communities, it’s often tough to do a housing market study using the Census and American Community Survey data. First, the Census only occurs every ten years, and the data can quickly become out of date as the market changes with economic cycles.
Additionally, the American Community Survey only collects data for larger places (States, counties, major population centers) and not for small, out of the way places like resort communities.
Finally, the housing market in resort communities is different. In a normal community, people who live and work in that community drive the housing market.
In a resort community, the housing market is driven not only by the people who live and work there, but also by retirees who retire to the community, and second homeowners who may own a property they rent out, may own a property they keep vacant, or may own a property that they currently don’t occupy (it’s vacant or rented) but that they plan to occupy when they retire.
In a resort community, it’s important to understand not only what people are doing with their properties today (which the Census can tell you) but also what they are planning on doing with those properties in the future. The future picture of the community can only be painted by gathering survey and other data from the home owners and residents of the community about their future plans.
Prosperous Communities can help you go beyond the basic housing market study and develop a future picture of your community.
Following the housing market study, the next step is the analysis of solutions, identification of specific solutions, and the development of specific action steps to implement these solutions.
The analysis and identification of solutions is this a community specific activity. There is no one size fits all in the world of housing markets solutions. Each community is unique. You cannot borrow the details of a program from another community. You must craft the program specifically for the demographics and housing market in your community.
Dr. Bill can identify solutions that have worked in other communities and advise on the changes and adjustments necessary to allow these solutions to be effectively implemented in your community.
The implementation of a housing intervention can be complicated and is fraught with trip hazards. Often the organization or individuals charged with implementation must navigate both the political and administrative processes at the city, county, and state levels. An extensive community dialogue is often necessary. To be effectively implemented, solutions must meet the needs of developers, community members, and political leaders. Leadership is necessary is shepherd the implementation through the process.
Dr. Bill is experienced with the trip hazards that can appear in the community and political processes and can coach community leaders, boards, and professionals on the appropriate strategies to lead the implementation through the political process.
Training and Workshops
The devil is in the details when intervening in a housing market. Solutions cannot just be borrowed from other communities. The numbers must be adjusted to reflect the local demographics and housing market.
Marketing activities may be necessary to make community members aware of the extent of the problem. Marketing activities may also be necessary to properly inform community members and political leadership about the solutions.
Solutions can be complex and involve many different participants. Research and communication is necessary to seek out the diverse points of view of each of the participants. Leadership skills are needed to bring these diverse views to common ground.
Dr. Bill facilitates leadership workshops that provide community leaders, housing professionals, and economic developers with the leadership skills and tools needed to transform their community.
Prosperous Communities offers training focused on the technical details of workforce and affordable housing development, housing solutions, and entrepreneurial development.