Every community is unique in its needs, its people, and its ultimate look and feel. Even so, there are several commonalities. Over many years and multiple housing initiatives, certain qualities have emerged as keys to success as proponents build local support for developments. Here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Engage key players.
Identify key local decision makers, town officials, community leaders, and, if you are working to gain support for a specific initiative including developments, identify people with a direct stake in the outcome of that initiative. Work to understand the various perspectives and concerns of these key players.
Then, devise strategies to mobilize supporters, address concerns of and/or neutralize opponents, and persuade the undecided.
“A leader is not a mad scientist on the outside pulling levers and pushing buttons, but rather a mad inhabitant, an intentional inhabitant, who deploys themselves as a key variable to influence the environment from the inside.” - Bill Traynor, Trusted Space Partners
Be a leader.
Qualities of successful leadership that will help when advocating for housing initiatives or planning include:
- Be professional.
- Be prepared.
- Act with integrity and transparency.
- Demonstrate empathy and flexibility.
- Be persistent.
- Keep it about real people.
Cultivate other leaders and advocates.
Teamwork is essential. The support and collaboration of community members and local officials is critical to ongoing success. Many hands may not make light work in the case of building support for affordable housing, but many hands can help produce stronger and more effective outcomes.