ForEveryoneHome: City Solutions for Housing Equity
Grounded Solutions Network's “ForEveryoneHome” initiative, is an 18-month technical assistance, peer learning, and community engagement program to help mixed-market cities chart a path to inclusive growth through lasting affordability. The program works with teams of municipal officials and community leaders in select cities where renewed growth and investment place communities of color at risk of displacement. We want to get ahead of the curve in these communities—catalyzing action to protect affordability and diversity before displacement pressures become too great. The cities of Indianapolis, San Antonio and Winston-Salem have been selected through a competitive process to form the program’s inaugural class. This cohort of three cities share a commitment to fostering inclusive growth in their communities.
Our teams in San Antonio, Indianapolis and Winston-Salem have been working for more than 18 months to identify the displacement and inclusive growth challenges that each community faces, and to devise specific strategies to meet those challenges. Our Indianapolis and San Antonio teams have each issued an Anti-Displacement Agenda that details the policy proposals they want to see their cities adopt. Our Winston-Salem team expects to issue its Anti-Displacement Agenda in the coming weeks. All three reports represent key steps toward advancing racially equitable housing outcomes for their cities, and will serve as models for inclusive housing policies that can be used in communities across the nation.
Cities are growing. New downtown housing is going up. Older neighborhoods are seeing renewed investment. City services are improving. But this growth and investment is often inequitable, benefitting some while passing others by. Rising prices and changing demographics threaten to make some neighborhoods inaccessible and inhospitable to those who have long lived there.
Many city leaders recognize the need to reshape the way growth unfolds in their communities, but they often lack the policy tools, strategies and civic consensus needed to build more equitable and inclusive communities. ForEveryoneHome helps these communities build a set of lasting interventions at a time when they can have the greatest impact.
Our team, in partnership with industry leaders and seasoned practitioners from around the country, helps to develop inclusive housing agendas that promote lasting affordability. We create three locally defined deliverables for each participating city.
- Needs assessment - We identify current and emerging housing challenges, as well as causes and consequences.
- Displacement prevention agenda - We develop policy strategies to address the challenges identified in the needs assessment.
- Implementable policy - We take a high-priority strategy from the displacement prevention agenda and create a detailed plan for immediate action.
Representatives from each selected community participate in learning tours to understand their peer communities’ strategies for achieving more inclusive growth.
These learning tours are led by experienced practitioners who understand the practical challenges of making these strategies work. Community representatives also meet regularly as a cohort throughout the 18-month program to share experiences, strategize together, and gain support and insight from their peers.
We believe the low-income communities of color who are most likely to benefit from an inclusive growth and anti-displacement strategy must be involved in shaping it.
Participating teams from each city include community partners that are trusted and informed voices on housing issues facing low-income communities of color in their cities. These partners serve as full participants in the initiative, adding their insights, experiences and community priorities to the policy discussions, and amplifying community outreach efforts. We also help participants develop community engagement strategies to ensure broader input into the needs assessment, agenda-setting and policy development phases of the initiative.
Racial Equity Lens
We challenge ourselves and participants to bring a racial equity lens to our work. This means approaching our work with the acknowledgment that housing is not, and never has been, a race-neutral endeavor in the United States.
We ask each city to tell its housing story, focusing in particular on the legacy of individual and institutional racial bias that has shaped who lives where and the people who have benefited and suffered due to past practices. The goal is to elevate an often neglected local history and to recognize its importance in the development of inclusive housing policies aimed at dismantling the legacy of disadvantage this history has yielded. ForEveryoneHome participants from each community work to ensure that this history informs new policies the city will pursue.
Inclusive Growth Tools
Through the initiative, we explore a wide range of housing solutions that can be applied or adapted to achieve inclusive growth with lasting affordability (affordability terms of 30 years or more).
- Preservation strategies for subsidized (LIHTC, Section 8, HOME, etc.) and naturally occurring affordable housing;
- Non-traditional affordable housing models, including community land trusts, shared-equity home-ownership programs, and shared-appreciation loan programs;
- Mandatory or voluntary inclusionary housing policies;
- Land banks and public land disposition policies and practices;
- Housing trust funds, loan funds, and other financing strategies;
- Improving monitoring and stewardship of affordable units.
Pilot Cohort Selection
A two-month selection process began with a call for applications. We evaluated applications based on the following criteria.
- Strength of team – We looked for diverse teams of both government and community leaders who offered sufficient technical knowledge, political clout and community connection to craft an effective and responsive policy agenda for those at risk of displacement. Project teams consisted of six to 10 members, including at least three local government leaders (including elected and appointed officials and key staff) and at least three community members who were trusted and informed voices on the housing needs of the low-income communities of color. For every team, the city’s mayor was designated an honorary team member.
- Need – Applicant teams described the need for an inclusive growth initiative and provided available data on housing market conditions, displacement pressures, and community concern over the issue.
- Readiness to act – Participating communities showed readiness to move forward on an inclusive housing agenda. Indicators of readiness included political support for participation, past successes in community engagement efforts, resources available for planning and implementation, and the scope and strength of existing affordable housing infrastructure.
The pilot cohort, launched in March, 2020, is underway. ForEveryoneHome unfolds in four phases.
Phase 1: Launch
This phase focuses on introducing cohort members to each other and establishing a baseline of shared knowledge on which we build. A key part of this process are two learning tours, which provide an opportunity for the core teams to meet and learn from one another in person. At the direction of the participating communities, we supplement learning tours with additional webinar trainings.
Phase 2: Needs Assessment
The goal in this phase is to understand the circumstances on the ground in each participating community, and to have each community articulate its goals and vision for this initiative. We work closely with participating communities to craft an appropriate needs assessment/visioning process that augments the community’s existing efforts. We support a community engagement process to ensure broad input in and support for the resulting analysis.
Phase 3: Crafting a Displacement Prevention Agenda
The displacement prevention agenda outlines the cities’ proposed approach to ensuring inclusive growth with lasting affordability in their communities.
Phase 4: Moving from Plan to Action
This final phase of the initiative moves from planning to action. Each participating community chooses one key policy or program from its displacement prevention agenda for rapid implementation. Through policy and data analysis, community engagement efforts and other consulting support, Grounded Solutions Network helps communities develop the policy or program in detail. At the end of this effort, participating jurisdictions have an implementation-ready policy outline, ready for translation into ordinance and practice.
Foundation-Funded, With a Community Match
With underwriting from the Ford Foundation, Grounded Solutions Network was able to provide $150,000 worth of support for each city in the pilot cohort. Each participating community also contributed $75,000 from local sources toward the initiative, demonstrating local commitment to creating inclusive neighborhoods for all.
We've assembled an advisory board comprised of leaders and visionaries in the field to help guide us through our RFP selection and program design processes.