Nimby Assessment

Consolidated Plan Case Study

Project Background

Housing Now, Inc. is a not-for-profit homeless services agency located in a small city with a declining population of approximately 90,000 people, and a stagnant commercial economy. The organization plans to establish a rental assistance program for 30 chronically homeless single adults who are living in emergency shelters run by several local faith-based organizations. The agency is applying for Shelter Plus Care funding through the local continuum of care, and their proposal has been ranked #1 because they will be providing permanent housing to people who are chronically homeless.

Housing Now, Inc. has also entered into a memorandum of agreement with a local not-for-profit housing developer who has agreed to give preference to individuals served by the agency. The local Department of Health, a provider of mental health, substance abuse, and primary health care, has been active in the planning of the program, and has agreed to assign two full time case managers to work with the tenants. Finally, a local community foundation has committed funds to furnish the apartments.

Project Challenge

When the Chair of the Continuum of Care (CoC) presented their draft application to the city's Mayor for him to certify that the projects within the CoC are consistent with the city's Consolidated Plan, the Mayor approved all of the projects, except for Housing Now's Rental Assistance Program. This was a big surprise, because permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless single adults was identified as a priority need within the consolidated plan. The Mayor based his refusal on several factors, stating that:

  • "These people can't live on their own in apartments. They need to live in supervised housing. Otherwise, they will pose a risk to other members of the community."
  • "This will be like a magnet for homeless people from all over the state. Free rent, no supervision - word will get out and homeless people from hundreds of miles away will want to move here."
  • "This agency does not have the staff to work with these people. They don't have a psychiatrist or a nurse — how will they know whether they are dangerous?"

The application was ready to be submitted prior to the deadline, but the Mayor's certification specifically excluded Housing Now's proposal. The members of the Continuum are now concerned that they will lose points for not having all projects certified, and some are suggesting that the proposal be dropped. Housing Now's Executive Director has refused to withdraw the proposal, and has requested that it be submitted to HUD pending receipt of the certification.

Items to Consider

To assess the conditions facing Housing Now, Inc., and to properly guide its decisions about how to proceed, it is essential to consider the following factors.

Click on each of the factors above to learn more.

To select the course of action commensurate with your organization's tolerance for risk, click on the link below: