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Getting Started with Implementation

Section Overview

This section discusses the transition from planning for action to acting, including the types of capacities an organization may need to do so. The details of implementation will vary significantly between organizations and what they plan to do, so this section is meant to provide a general set of guidance and considerations.

Real-Life Examples Included in this Section:

Initiating a Plan

Implementing a housing equity plan should incorporate an understanding of how the organization’s current practices might limit equitable outcomes for their residents. This understanding can serve as a starting point for strategic planning by identifying opportunities for individuals and organizations to make commitments that can achieve desired outcomes. To prepare for this process, there are several discrete steps to get started:

  • Develop a plan.

  • Ensure that there are opportunities for education on the issues and create space to discuss them within the workplace.

  • Cultivate operational support.

  • Identify other champions throughout the organization.

  • Build partnerships and relationships, specifically with residents and communities.

This work requires continuous reflection and adjustment, as needed. As action steps and interventions are identified across workstreams, organizations can develop the capacity to implement strategies, craft policy, and build powerful and sustainable communities that are rooted in racial equity.

Capacity Needs for Future Success

Integrating housing and housing equity goals into an organization’s mission and strategy may prove simple or more complex depending on existing capacity across staffing, operations, and leadership. The capacities detailed within the expandable sections below may prove useful in preparing the organization to develop their housing equity plan as well as to implement and evaluate proposed actions.

Operational Support

It is important for managers and supervisors to understand and learn to identify various forms of racism and classism, and how they may be perpetuated in the organization’s interactions with residents, even unknowingly. Progress can occur when staff learn how to resolve conflict, respect differences and work cooperatively with people of various backgrounds. A manager’s ability to help staff openly discuss issues of racism and other forms of oppression greatly enhances the team’s ability to work toward developing healthier relationships, and in turn, more equitable organizations.

Leadership/Board of Directors

It is important to understand how to advance justice as a leader and prioritize authentic connections across all levels of the organization. Board members and senior leadership should be proponents of the housing equity plan if the organization is to move from well-intentioned ideas to decided actions. Risks and opportunities related to reputation, strategy, financing, regulatory compliance and human capital have proven to be strong motivators for increased focus on racial equity objectives. The effective oversight of a housing equity plan typically requires that board members:

  • Ensure the CEO and board chair have the capacity and commitment to drive the organization’s housing equity efforts long-term.

  • Take steps to build a board and decision-making structure of people who are racially and ethnically diverse.

  • Make housing equity an active part of the business strategy and work toward clear and quantitative key performance indicators.

  • Regularly evaluate the potential impacts of the company’s operations on communities of color, embracing relevant opportunities and mitigating relevant risks consistent with the organization’s business strategy.

  • Weigh the perspectives of stakeholders (including employees) in leadership’s decision-making.

  • Create a structured onboarding and ongoing training process that prepares all directors and leaders for effective oversight of the housing equity work.

  • Seek out best practices and learn from peers and experts.

Resident Relationships

Residents can play an important role in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of an organization’s racial and housing equity plan, particularly in organizations that serve many BBIPOC and/or low-income residents. Organizations can also benefit from resident engagement in development processes that help to achieve community buy-in and ensure a development’s success. How an organization interacts with the community can affect residents’ feeling of commitment to the community, contribute to the physical protection of the development, and have a positive impact on resident behavior. There are a number of concepts which can be helpful when engaging residents:

  • Respect residents and their time.

  • Involve diverse groups to capture a range of opinions and preferences.

  • Be aware of the organization’s and staff members’ position and biases.

  • Gain the resident’s trust; deliver on the promises made.

  • Use simple, direct language.

  • Design housing, programs, and services with culture in mind.

  • Team up with other organizations to create a network of support for resident success.

[17] Carter, Evelyn. Restructure Your Organization to Actually Advance Racial Justice.” Harvard Business Review. June 2020.

[18] (Colton, O'Kelley, & Fetter, 2021)

Case Study: National Equity Fund’s Emerging Minority Developers Fund

National Equity Fund(NEF), a leading nonprofit Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) syndicator, lender and equity investor, has invested in affordable housing and community development initiatives –  including those focused on serving communities of color – for more than three decades. NEF has strategically allocated its investments for maximum impact, collaborating with developers and investors to create new and preserve existing affordable housing throughout the country. Additionally, NEF and its partners work to support community and economic development through supportive housing developments that provide supportive social and health services to assist the chronically homeless, individuals with disabilities, seniors, Veterans, and other vulnerable populations.  

Recently, to amplify access to capital for affordable housing developers of color, NEF launched the Emerging Minority Developer Fund (EMDF), a $147 million fund to connect affordable housing developers of color with the resources needed to build affordable housing.

The fund will help developers of color bridge capital gaps that often prevent them from accessing  LIHTC financing, with an emphasis on promising developers who have limited LIHTC development experience and/or limited financial capacity. Barriers to accessing LIHTC financing limit the ability of developers of color to grow their businesses, scale their operations, and build their own wealth to fund future affordable housing and community development projects. The fund aims to address systemic barriers facing affordable housing developers of color in accessing LIHTC financing. This is via limited guaranty backstops for undercapitalized developers of color and technical support funding for consultants to assist with successful navigation of the transaction while building the developer’s capacity. The guaranty backstop and technical support are vital elements of the fund that effectively mitigate two significant barriers for developers of color.
The EMDF will also bring benefits to lower-income communities.  Developers of color often differentiate themselves by leading groups that understand the specific opportunities, challenges, and historical context in the neighborhoods where they are developing. Their ability to recognize development projects that reflect the cultures and preferences of the neighborhood populations and to provide affordable housing options that meet specific local needs and priorities increases the benefit to residents. Furthermore, improving capital access for developers of color can help them bring development projects to low-income communities, which has economic implications such as job creation and upward mobility opportunities.
Key features that supplement NEF’s financing commitment and ensure success among participating developers include:
  • Limited guaranty backstops
  • Technical support
  • Retention of at least 50% of the developer fee
    • This improves the developer’s financial strength and capacity to grow their business.
Over the long-term, EMDF will help participating developers build their capacity and improve their financial strength by reducing barriers to accessing future LIHTC financing. NEF expects to demonstrate that an equity-focused approach to housing investment can benefit firms and inspire more investments in developers of color.
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