Opening a Window Into Affordable Housing
While N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has pitted cities and affordable housing groups against each other, several cities around the country have continued to push for more affordable housing--both for rent and for sale--despite resident backlash. And other cities have looked to change the damaging perceptions that lead to such heated responses in the first place.
Christie put a freeze on actions by the state Council on Affordable Housing, pleasing some cities while attracting legal battles from groups like the Fair Share Housing Center in Cherry Hill. The N.J. NAACP has pointed out that getting rid of the COAH could lead to economic and racial segregation among cities.
Residents often get riled up by proposed affordable housing plans. Recent proposals outside Dallas, Boynton Beach, Fla., and Charlotte faced fierce opposition, especially in places where the words Section 8 were thrown around.
But other cities have had better luck by working to change perceptions of affordable housing.
Residents in a Connecticut town recently unanimously approved its first affordable housing development for families of any age. The Hartford Courant credited local leaders with getting the measure passed by including residents in the conversation early on.
Unlike in many towns in the state, the affordable housing proposal has remained controversy-free since the beginning, largely due to the town and HOPE Partnership's involving residents in the process through town meetings and public hearings.
Maybe cities looking to bring residents on board with these developments can look to Austin, which recently launched a Web site tracking city grants for affordable housing. The site, labeled "Return on Investment," explains each development in terms of the number of units and who would be eligible--an effort that could shed a more positive light on necessary investments in our communities.