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General Guidance on Community and Resident Involvement

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 Information by State
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 -   Background
 -   Key Principles for Involvement
 -   Training
 -   Resident and Community Involvement Prior to the Award of Grants
 -   Resident and Community Involvement After Relocation
 -   Procurement
 -   Community Involvement
 -   Conclusion

  Background

The participation of both public housing residents living at HOPE VI sites to be revitalized and the surrounding community is essential to the HOPE VI Program and community building efforts. Full resident involvement and community input are crucial elements of the HOPE VI Program. The spirit of the HOPE VI Program is one of full consultation and collaboration among the Grantee, affected residents and the broader community.

The Grantee must consider the advice, counsel, recommendations and input of affected residents and the broader community in its decision-making throughout the entire development process. As the Grantee of the HOPE VI funds, the PHA has the fiduciary responsibility for the grant, and therefore has final decision-making authority regarding the use of funds.

This guidance suggests ways that housing agencies can foster resident and community involvement. PHAs are encouraged to implement approaches to meet the needs of their particular residents and address the circumstances that relate specifically to their revitalization efforts.

Key Principles for Resident Involvement

Resident involvement must start with the duly elected Resident Council, with an eye toward involving all residents in the development. All affected residents must be given reasonable notice of meetings about HOPE VI planning and implementation, and provide them with opportunities to provide input. Such meetings should be open to all affected residents and their representatives. Conducting resident surveys on key issues is another way to obtain meaningful input from all affected residents.

There are four key principles of the HOPE VI Program with regard to affected residents: Collaboration, inclusion, communication and participation.

  1. Collaboration involves working together to create a vision that drives the HOPE VI revitalization effort. The objective is a cooperative partnership with residents and the Resident Council, in which the PHA and residents have a shared commitment and a productive relationship. Residents are to be included in all phases of the application preparation, planning, implementation and operation of the HOPE VI development in this spirit of collaboration.

  2. Effective collaboration also requires inclusion. PHAs are responsible for communicating with and disseminating information to all affected residents and ensuring that all affected residents have opportunities to participate in the activities related to the HOPE VI planning and development process.

  3. Regular communication and information sharing with the residents regarding all aspects of the revitalization plan are essential to ensure continuing involvement, support, inclusion and collaboration. All affected public housing residents must be informed of all revitalization activities, and must make documents such as the HOPE VI Application, Grant Agreement, Developer’s Agreement, Revitalization Plan, Relocation Plan, Community and Supportive Services Plan, and minutes of meetings with affected residents available on-site at the management office, or at another easily accessible location on-site. The information disseminated should be clear and understandable to the target population.

    Technical language and complicated concepts may require simplification for both residents and the community-at-large. Where residents speak a number of languages besides English, PHAs can explore using language-based focus groups and consider other means of getting information to residents. PHAs should put in place a public information strategy in order to get timely information to residents and the community. Reporting outcomes of development activities is one way to keep people engaged in the process. Some PHAs use a quarterly HOPE VI newsletter to keep residents informed of the outcomes and the status of revitalization activities.

  4. Residents should be encouraged to participate in the planning and implementation of the entire development process. For example, residents may participate on selection panels to choose development partners and consultants; attend meetings with the development team, program manager, public and private lenders, the city and other partners; and participate in working and advisory groups (e.g., the Community Task Force). Where affected residents and/or community representatives are included on selection panels, the Grantee must constitute the majority of the panel membership.

PHAs and residents should be aware that Resident Councils often evolve and are redefined in the new mixed-income communities. Because residents who are relocated to other public housing developments or take Section 8 are not eligible to hold office in the Resident Council of the affected development, a HOPE VI Consultative Group should be formed. This group should be composed of all residents who wish to return to the revitalized development and will have the responsibility of interacting with the PHA on all HOPE VI matters. This consultative group is not required by 24 CFR 964. Therefore, a Memorandum of Understanding should be developed between the PHA and this body. After the site is revitalized and eligible public housing residents have returned to the new development, residents have the option of creating a new Resident Council or becoming part of the larger community body. Active resident participation in the HOPE VI development process will assist with this transformation and ensure continuity of resident involvement.

Training

PHAs are responsible for providing or funding training to residents on the fundamentals of development issues related to procurement, financing, development of mixed income communities, demolition, relocation, Section 8, design and planning, and operations to enable residents to participate meaningfully in HOPE VI planning and implementation activities. Residents and housing agencies should work together to identify specific needs and appropriate sources of training to meet those needs. For example, local universities, non-profit organizations, and professional associations may be excellent sources of technical assistance and training for residents.

This participatory process seeks to build consensus while also assuring that PHAs obtain valuable input from residents critical to creating a positive living environment. Residents need to see that their input is thoroughly considered in creating and implementing the revitalization plan. This input is integral to the planning and implementation of the HOPE VI Program without controlling it.

Resident and Community Involvement Prior to the Award of Grants

Resident and community participation are key ingredients to a successful HOPE VI application. Involving residents and the community in the planning process and in shaping the HOPE VI application should start well before the application is submitted, ideally a year or more before submission. Early discussions with residents and community members about the HOPE VI application should focus on the entire development process and how it works. Basic topics of discussion may include: physical design of buildings and units including accessibility for persons with disabilities, demolition, unit mix, relocation, procurement, homeownership plans, lease agreements and community and supportive services. Affected residents, as well as other stakeholders including persons with disabilities, should achieve a sense of ownership of the plan.

The effectiveness of resident and community participation in the planning and application preparation process will be carefully assessed during the application review process. Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) explain the specifics of how resident involvement will be evaluated. NOFA applications have required PHAs to detail how affected residents and the broader community have had and will continue to have full and meaningful involvement in the planning and implementation of revitalization.

Resident and Community Involvement after Relocation

PHAs must continue to involve affected residents in HOPE VI activities after relocation from the original public housing site. However, participation in the Resident Council changes once residents are relocated to Section 8 housing. When relocating, residents have the option to choose among the following options: other public housing, Section 8, private rental market, or affordable homeownership. Residents who relocate and choose Section 8 are not eligible to vote or participate as leaders of the Resident Council of the affected development since they are no longer public housing residents.

The HOPE VI Office is working with PHAs, public interest groups and resident groups to ensure the continuing involvement of all affected residents in the HOPE VI process after relocation. Further guidance will be developed and issued as an additional insert to this chapter of the HOPE VI Guidebook by December 30, 1999.

Procurement

PHAs are encouraged to include Resident Council members or their designees on selection panels for the procurement of services related to the HOPE VI revitalization efforts, including the selection of the developer, program manager, etc. PHA officials or employees must constitute a majority on all selection panels. Typically, the PHA establishes an evaluation plan which sets up the criteria for evaluating the proposal, helps the panel reach consensus in the procurement decision and lends structure to the process. In addition, the HUD Procurement Handbook has specific guidelines that must be followed. Residents who participate on these panels must receive training on procedures, conflict of interest issues, and substantive issues concerning the specific services to be procured so that they can participate as informed panel members. Residents that serve on selection panels or as advisors to selection panels must comply with the PHA’s procurement policy and HUD procurement regulations for grantees (PHAs) at 24 CFR 85.36 and in particular 24 CFR 85.36(b)(3) regarding conflicts of interest.

PHAs should ensure that such residents are provided related training and copies of the PHA's procurement policies and 24 CFR 85.36, since such residents will be considered agents of the PHA when serving on selection panels. Under no circumstances should there be communication between respondents to RFQs and panel members. In order to contract with resident-owned businesses, PHAs must follow the alternative procurement requirements under 24 CFR Part 963.

Community Involvement

In addition to affected public housing residents, neighbors, local businesses, service providers, community groups, local officials, public agencies, and other stakeholders must be involved in the HOPE VI planning and implementation process. A Community Task Force (CTF) is one way to involve these different players, and foster broader collaboration and support for the HOPE VI Program. The CTF provides advice, counsel and recommendations to the PHA on all aspects of the development process, including both the “hard” side and self-sufficiency activities. The PHA is responsible for ensuring that the CTF holds regular meetings. PHAs should support the CTF by disseminating information, providing sufficient notice about time and place of meetings, developing formal agendas, and providing meeting minutes and reports, etc.

Experience has shown that for effective integration and acceptance of public housing and low-income residents into the broader community, the broader community must be involved in developing the HOPE VI proposal. Collaboration, inclusion, communication and participation are also critical elements in the community involvement process. The support and involvement of the community surrounding the HOPE VI development and proposed scattered sites is crucial for developing a sound and feasible development plan.

Conclusion

Every HOPE VI development is unique in terms of unit mix, geographic area, local needs and desires, and social and economic history. Over the years, each PHA has developed a unique relationship with its residents and the surrounding community. That relationship must meet the needs and challenges of the particular plan and community. PHAs must create and maintain frameworks for trust to build those relationships and truly transform distressed public housing, the surrounding community, and the lives of residents. At a minimum:

  • Resident and community involvement is required throughout the entire HOPE VI planning, development and implementation process.
  • PHAs must provide information and training so that residents may participate fully and meaningfully throughout the entire development process.

Only through effective collaboration and consensus-building can a PHA generate resident and community support of the plan, which is essential for a successful HOPE VI development which meets the spirit and principles of HOPE VI. Working together requires not only the solicitation and gathering of resident and community input, but also serious consideration and response to that input, even if the input ultimately is rejected. While residents are to participate actively in all aspects of the HOPE VI process, PHAs remain accountable for meeting the terms of the Grant Agreement, have fiscal responsibility for the funds, and have final decision making authority.

 
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