Create a Development Strategy
The development strategy outlines the who, what, where, and how of a community's affordable housing needs and is an extension of the community’s needs assessment (see Assessing Housing Needs section). It reflects the broader community's understanding about its needs and opportunities.
Most communities will have multiple housing needs. A good strategy plan will identify the details, providing information to help assess the appropriateness of a real estate site. In most cases, if your community has a Housing Production Plan, this information is required as part of the implementation plan, including identifying appropriate sites that could potentially be used for housing development.
For example, MHP staff worked with a semi-rural community that had a town-owned parcel they wanted to use for affordable senior housing. While the town-appointed committee was working on the pre-development due diligence of the site, preparing for the RFP process, the selectmen were working with the town’s regional planning agency to better understand the demographic trends of the community. Through this work the selectmen came to understand that the town was aging and losing younger families, which had a longer-term negative fiscal impact for their community. This information helped them to look at their affordable housing opportunity differently. The town-owned site was a short walk to their elementary school and was constrained by not having public water or sewer. The development strategy then outlined a plan for affordable family housing units.
Through the process of creating a development strategy, the following are determined:
- Who in the community is in need of affordable housing? Consider income levels, special populations, etc.
- What type (rental, owner-occupied, family, elderly) and quantity of housing is needed? This determination should be largely driven by the data analysis. It’s important to remember that sometimes a development can support multiple community housing needs.
- What physical characteristics (accessibility, number of bedrooms per unit, types of amenities) are appropriate?
- What are the current market conditions for such housing? i.e. do the types of housing needed already exist? If so, how great is the demand for additional housing?
- Where are the best sites? Developable sites could include already developed, but underused sites, publicly owned (state, municipal, local housing authority), or privately owned sites.
- If it is a publicly owned site, how will the property be disposed of (sale or lease)? How will compliance with procurement laws be ensured?