The Building Blocks

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In this section:

Strategies for Action


Set your result

Assess existing conditions

  • Meet with the department, agency, or organizational staff responsible for the program. The meeting(s) should help you understand:
    • how the program works
    • what resources are available to the program
    • the constraints under which the program team operates

This information will help you figure out where you need to put pressure to make change. This is also an opportunity to feel out whether the department or agency staff would like to see a change. Some questions to ask:

  • How did this program get started?
  • What are some of the successes and challenges you’ve faced?
  • What resources support this program?
  • Lay out the challenges you are seeing and ask: What are your feelings or experiences with these issues?
  • What would it take to address these issues? Make sure to find out whether changing the program will require a legislative change.
  • Who is responsible for making the change?
  • Would your department/agency/organization be willing to support this change?

Research new ideas

The above conversations may generate enough information to make good decisions about what changes are needed. But if the information is insufficient, you can dig deeper.

  • Reach out to colleagues, partners, and experts to draw up a list of other communities with similar programs. Remember that if the program stems from a federal, state, or tribal initiative, there will likely be similar programs in similar communities.
  • Review case studies. A few great resources are Local Housing Solutions, Shelter Force, Next City, City Lab.
  • Interview local leaders or researchers and review relevant articles and documents to understand what it will take to succeed in making your change.

Hot Tip

Though model programs and best practices can give you ideas and show local officials what’s possible, they don’t always translate well across political, legal, and cultural contexts, so you need to pick apart the strategies you like to understand what will and will not work in your context.

  • Articulate the change you would like to make to an existing program or a new program you would like to develop.
  • Make sure your strategy will advance your results or priorities.

Analyze the Equity Impacts

  • If you are not already working with or part of groups representing impacted residents:
    • Meet with community partners, local leaders, and residents to talk about potential strategies and their unintended consequences. Make sure you analyze how this change will potentially benefit or harm the communities who use or are affected by this funding stream as well as residents of other disinvested neighborhoods where this funding might be applied.
    • If possible, get affirmative consent from community partners, local leaders, and residents to pursue your strategy. Simply presenting information does not mean you’ve gotten their agreement.
  • Analyze how other groups may benefit or be harmed by the change you seek. If they are not already part of the process, reach out to include them in your discussions.

Name the change you would like to see

  • In 1-2 sentences, describe the programmatic change you seek.