Nimby Assessment

Urban Policy and Regulatory Issues Case Study

State and local governments are often critical partners in the development of housing for persons who are homeless. However, project impediments related to state or local policies and regulations can arise, especially when elected officials, government staff, and the public are fearful that projects will negatively affect their community.

Project Background

Located in a medium sized city, Community of Hope is a community based non-profit organization that specializes in providing residential, vocational, and treatment services to homeless families in which a family member has a substance abuse disorder and frequently a history of incarceration. The organization is secular but was established 20 years ago by a Protestant denomination that founded urban institutions to address issues of poverty. Today, Community of Hope receives limited funds from the National Church. In addition, over fifty percent of the organization's support comes from HUD in the form of Emergency Shelter Grants and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

Community of Hope currently runs a transitional housing program for 20 families and is presently developing a 13-unit apartment house for homeless families in a neighborhood that is gentrifying. The project was made possible by two Community of Hope board members who donated a gutted apartment building. When completed, the facility will serve homeless families that are composed of one parent and at least two children. The families must have only TANF income or make no income to be eligible. Tenants will not pay rent; rather, they will give a "service fee" that will be saved on the family's behalf and returned when they move into permanent housing. The program will provide supportive services both on and off site. On site services will be located in the basement of the property and include a computer room, two meeting rooms, and counseling offices. Support services will include vocational training and job placement, substance abuse counseling, reintegration into the community after incarceration, and case management, including mental health assessments and medication management.

The local economic development authority has funded the development of 200 units of moderate income housing across the street, eliminating substandard affordable housing and thus changing the demographics of the immediate neighborhood.

Project Challenge

City elected officials have promised the community a stronger tax base, more middle class residents, and fewer inhabitants receiving welfare and social services. These elected officials view the presence of "homeless" families, particularly those with histories of substance abuse or incarceration, as a political liability. In addition, City government officials fear that the development of the Community of Hope project will dissuade developers of moderate- to high-end housing from investing in the surrounding area.

City support for the Community of Hope project has begun to erode in response to these fears. Recently, City staff have begun to use policies and regulations to impede development of the project.

Items to Consider

In order to assess the conditions facing Community of Hope, 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:

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