A recent study aimed at Washington, DC includes the following excerpt:
Regardless of specific type of strategy implemented, our research suggests that three criteria need to be met to foster successful affordable housing efforts: land availability, city government responsiveness, and community involvement.
Another important criteria is city government leadership and dedication to creating and retaining affordable housing. District government plays a key role in creating regulatory supports and removing barriers to housing development, providing project financing or technical support, and marketing the message that affordable housing is a priority. Attentive city management of regulations and city programs can help create opportunities, and neglect on the part of city government can hinder them. The city's task force similarly recommends that the city's administration be more responsive to and streamlined in facilitating affordable housing production, retention, and administering housing programs.
Finally, community involvement can make or break affordable housing plans. City officials and developers who believe they can implement a project without support of the local community will be sadly mistaken. Community members can identify special needs of a neighborhood and develop workable ideas, as well as motivate government and nonprofits to support affordable housing initiatives. Without consultation, community members may also attempt to block any change, and our case studies provide examples of where this occurred.
The critical findings are:
- find land and bank it
- city government responsiveness
- and community involvement
Today’s editorial in the SHT echoes this message, again:
Sarasota needs more affordable housing -- but won't get much of it by alienating neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, that's what three city commissioners did Monday when they green-lighted a developer's plan to parlay a land-use change into a large condominium project along School Avenue.
Why do our commissioners not listen to their constituents? Why do they make no attempt to get community and neighborhood consensus? Why are neighborhoods excluded from the process?
We were told by Commissioner Servian last week that she voted for the density bonus program even though neighborhoods and many citizens told them that the process was too fast, will result in unknown consequences and made no effort to look at infrastructure, traffic, environmental and parking costs. She indicated her reason was to get citizen involvement in the affordable housing process.
There were many citizens involved in the process, and they continue to be involved. What is wrong is that the commission does not listen to the residents. This causes serious questions among the citizens about why should we continue to "waste our time" when our commissioners choose to listen to special interest developers (and their business associates) instead of the citizens. Why should we put our time and effort into a process, hoping to make our community a better place for everyone, only to be faced with seeing developer interests trump the community interests again and again.
Not listening to citizens that vote is a risky path to take.