Last night’s public meeting to discuss permanent supportive housing was a good start to what our office hopes will continue to be a productive conversation about how permanent supportive housing developments and residents, and neighborhoods in which they are located, can be good neighbors to each other.
You may recall that, back in December 2008, the TYP assembled a task force to address siting considerations for PSH. The City and County administrations’ legal departments both became concerned that we had defined that task force’s purpose too broadly, and that we risked bumping heads with the Fair Housing Act. They asked us to postpone the task force. Our response was to reframe our conversation with the community. Essentially, we wanted to engage in a dialog, as opposed to delivering a presentation, about what it means for us to be good neighbors to each other. More on that below.
The conversation and its participants
The TYP recognizes this obvious fact: in order for permanent housing to succeed, it must be developed and operated in such a way that it serves the interests of PSH residents AND the interests of their neighbors. If both sets of interests can be honored, everyone wins, and our community will make strides towards ending homelessness. In order for these interests to be identified, we have to engage all of the stakeholders in a conversation that will continue for as long as we need to develop and operate PSH.
At least fifty people began the conversation last night. Attendees were neighborhood stakeholders, developers, homeless service delivery folks, City Council members, County Commissioners, at least two residents of permanent supportive housing (PSH), and the Ten-Year Plan staff. The press were also to be found in our midst.
The meeting was conducted as a workshop. Attendees divided into six small groups. Each had a facilitator. Jon Lawler, Director of the Ten-Year Plan, asked these small groups to do an exercise in empathy. Each group brainstormed answers to these two questions:
1. Place yourself in the role of a neighborhood leader, local government official, or neighborhood resident; this is most likely the role in which you actually came here tonight. What do you need from a PSH development in order for it to be a good neighbor to you?
2. Now, switch hats and place yourself in the role of a resident of PSH, or a developer/operator of a PSH development. What do you need from the neighborhood in order for it to be a good neighbor to you, or to the residents of your facility?
Group facilitators wrote notes on giant sticky notes and then stuck them on the walls so that everyone could see them and discuss them. We’ve transcribed the notes from the meeting. They were captured by small group facilitators. In the interest of full disclosure, what follows is as straight off the paper as we could make it. We’ll be organizing and editing it later. More on that after the notes.
- Included in discussion on site criteria, stability, property value
- Case manager onsite-responsibilities, hours, respecting property of other people, safety concerns, policies and procedures, assessment for appropriateness
- Prospects for long range $$$ for support services
- A promise from provider of services to sustain current residents before adding new clients
- Open communication w/ problems and responsibilities
- Don’t want to harm the neighborhood
- Policies and procedures clearly define responsibilities of providers w/ respect to communication and interaction w/ neighbors
- Not a deal killer-but if possible to be mixed residents (not all chronically homeless)
- If service providers would meet with neighborhoods at the beginning to outline what is/is not a problem
- How can neighborhood advocates get past the “threat” and stigma of PSH
- Continued concern for sustaining support services
- How do we integrate PSH in the neighborhood
- PleasanTree Apartments may be a model for how to integrate with neighborhood
- Physically/aesthetically fit in w/decent maintenance
- More sensitivity to make sure PSH does not stand out and be recognizable, being aware of stigma
- Staff ensures proper communication and relationships between residents and neighborhood
- High expectations-most people will try to live up to
- Assessment of appropriateness
- Policies and procedures for what happens when a resident decompensates?
- Can we consider funding preferred locations or incentives to neighborhoods for taking this responsibility?
- Neighborhoods need more education about chronically homeless people
- I want to not be examined any more closely than any new neighbor
- Be friendly to me; respect me and my boundaries
- We want our neighbors to respect my property and privacy just as you want me to respect yours
- Stability, property values, security are important to developers and residents too
- I would like to be invited to neighborhood meetings, block parties, etc., invite to church; service projects, neighborhood watch
- If my neighbor has a problem with me, I’d like you to come to me first (the resident)
- If you see me having a problem, please call my manager
- Please help keep the n’hood safe for me
- If there’s a crime in the n’hood don’t automatically send the police to my house
- We’d like a n’hood rep to sit on our Board
- I want to know what/where services are that can help me (groceries, etc.)
- I’d like to know that there is someone in the n’hood that I can go to if I have a problem in the n’hood
- My apartment unit or house address needs to be a ‘normal’ address w/ a unit or street address (to not be identified as PSH)
- I’d like to be invited to church
- I’d like to be invited to contribute to the neighborhood
- Educate each other
- Be a part of n’hood watch
- Be allowed to join n’hood listserve
- I’d like there not to be a sign identifying my housing
- Don’t use my residence as a marketing tool
- For me to feel safe, I need to know that the police will be responsive
- * Good advance communication to ‘hood & follow-through
- * effective screening of residents HUD vetting sec 8 other applicable
- * CM on site – ongoing
- * adequate ratio of CM to clients
- Good maintenance of property appearance
- What does the structure/product look like
- Process of integration of new residents into the ‘hood PLAN
- *CM presence 24/7
- How long can they stay in PSH
- Must know that residents are accountable for their behavior
- Safety: theft, other victimization
- Safety of facility
- Access to transportation
- Acceptance & respect
- Appreciation as a contributor
- Known, if I want, Left alone, if I want
Respect me, my choices and privacy
- Included in ‘hood communication
- Respect for needs
- Don’t make assumptions @ me
- *Devel. - I want open mindedness
- - I want to know/address concerns of neighborhood
- Very small (5 – 8 units/residents)
- Throughout county
- Well managed
- Well planned/presented programming
- Drug testing/med mgmt
- Security/monitoring os site/curfew
- Well financed
- Case management load
- Case management schedule
- Medication management
- cost benefit
- Pilot programs
- Pride in my space
- opportunity for work/volunteer
- Cooperation with law enforcement
- near retail (groc/drug) bus line
- Community space for activities, classes
- On bus line
- Nice neighbors
- Good neighbors
- *computer/internet access
- Near churches
- Volunteer training
- What I (developer) is getting into
- Input from neighborhood
- Peace & quiet – to be left alone
- *need a two-way relationship w/those in charge of PSH.
- Strict adherence to supportive service standards.
- accountability for both residents & service providers
- *Long-term sustainability – services & accountability are ongoing (also funding)
- * Want to know there will be safety & security, to be able to know kids are safe in the neighborhood
- Standards & accountability for maintenances of PSH property. (goes to property values)
- N’hood advisory committee to build relationship w/PSH. (Goes to accountability)(also communication)
-emissaries from PSG to n’hood & vice-versa
- The possibility of incorporating PSH residents into the community/n’hood activities.
- The possibility of putting a fence up.
- Property design should blend w/n’hood architecture.
- PSH should be located in a place w/appropriate transportation
- Attractive property/yard/landscape
- That PSH residents are happy/occupied
- *That the impact of PSH is minimized
- That the PSH can have a n’hood partnering group (i.e., the church across the street)
- Input before the housing is put into place.
- To be accepted as a neighbor. (resident: “I don’t want anything.”)
- Providers want to be accepted. 2-way dialogue.
- To be able to contribute back to the community.
- Residents able to be comfortable in the community.
- *To be accepted where you are, as you are. (But not to be patronized.)
- For people to want us -gently push us – to be better.
- To be held accountable
- For community to take first step in developing a two-way relationship
- For n’hood to be a part of the support in PSH
- *For n’hood to understand who PSH residents really are, rather than stereotype.
- For n’hood to consider the best-case scenario, not just worst-case scenario.
- * Transportation – accessibility to services, shopping, etc.
- For community to listen & come see & not just assume.
- The better the management, the better the integration into the n’hood.
- Help w/n’hood cleanups.
- Attend potlucks
- if not disruptive
- Adequate off-street parking spaces for counselors, peer supporters, mentors, etc.
- Not overwhelm us. with more
- Development needs to “fit” in (The way it looks)
- Assurance of safety & security of n’hood residents
- 24-hour monitoring
- case manager or resident manager?
- peer counselor
- 2) Info on programs that led
- PSH residents/Background info.
- Notified of sex offenders
- PATH 2 PSH – training to be a good neighbor
- Access to who’s in charge? (Developer)
- Residency well maintained.
- Who is accountable?
- Who runs the PSH?
- Where will $ come from for next 50 yrs?
- Assurances it will continue as PSH? (And not change over to Section 8 housing)
(More comfort w/PSH than S8)
- 3) Awareness & ability to address mental illness of individuals.
First, approach churches & neighborhood groups for mentoring
Equip n’hood to be “first line of defense”
- 1) Provide us w/”immediate action” contacts – same response as KPD.
Curfew for PSH residents
- PSH resident
- Mutual Respect
- Safety & Security
- Access to services (transportation)
- * Help w/ lobbying for ongoing support services
- Ability to become involved in the n’hood
- Developer of PSH
- * Want property values to keep going up
- Want neighbors’ houses to be well maintained
- Want city KPD to run out drug houses
- For other residents to treat PSH residents with respect
- Identity of & relationship w/neighbors: extra set of eyes
- 2-way line of communication w/nearby neighbors & n’hood org.
- N’hood watch
- Strong Neighborhood
- Who to call in the hood?
- Where to park at PSH
- Transportation availability
- Proximity of other services
- drug stores
- food stores
- * Will residents be safe & secure?
- - how close are problem/nuisance properties?
- Are sidewalks available?
- The more healthy a n’hood is, the greater the chance for success
- 1/5 mentors is in the n’hood.
- What are the qualifications for the tenant to live in PSH? (neighborhood)
- I am concerned about the negative impact of the PSH residents on the neighborhood (neighbor)
- How can you show me that PSH is making an impact to reduce chronic homelessness (councilmember)
- How are we certain that there are funds that the PSH will be properly maintained? (neighbor, councilmember)
- Are there geographic/residential qualifiers to be a resdident of PSH? (Councilmember)
- I would like to know my neighbor (neighbor)
- If residents have pets, I need to know they will be properly cared for. (neighbor)
- Will the residents be taught what it is to be a good neighbor? (neighbor)
- Will the lease have restrictions on behavior? -noise (neighbor)
- I’d like to see PSH residents participate neighborhood activities and responsibilities (neighbor)
- That there is a guaranteed revenue stream to support the programming-counseling, support services, transportation to appointments, etc (neighbor)
- What happens if someone is evicted? (neighbor)
- How will this benefit my neighborhood
- Who monitors the success vs. failure?
- What is the exit strategy?
- Design that encourages neighborliness
- Appropriate lighting + architecture
- Open minds to build relationships
- Space for a garden (gardens for PSH residents)
- To be left alone-not hassled
- To be where there is density of population & activity
- To be in a vibrant, existing neighborhood
- Adequate conveniences-shopping, etc. library, post office, bank
- Free transportation
- Identified community groups (churches, neighborhood organizations, garden clubs) to assist with conflict resolution
- * Well-built buildings, with architecture that fits into the neighborhood with low utilty bills (solar?) (renewable energy?)
- Parks-amenities that add value to the neighborhood where I live
- * To feel welcomed & accepted by my neighborhood
- To have enough income to be a participant in the neighborhood-have a hobby, visit the coffee house, etc.
After the small groups finished brainstorming, they each presented the highlights of their own findings to the large group. As you can see, there are many common threads running through the groups.
So, what now?
We want, and need, for this conversation to continue.
We are going to assemble all of this information into a format that will help us to identify common themes and points of emphasis. We’d like to present that information in another meeting of the same group, and anyone else in the community who’s interested in participating. Ultimately, we would like to invite the community to shape a set of principles, values if you will, to guide the successful development and operation of PSH in our community.
Along the way, we will need to engage neighborhoods in more local versions of this conversation. The group that met last night is helping us to prototype what we hope will continue to be a positive, inclusive community dialog about how we can be good neighbors to each other.
And thanks to all who came out last night. We are very grateful to all who gave of their time, empathy, and thoughtful consideration. You generated some excellent ideas, and have begun a great conversation.