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national   /   October 3, 2017

By: Amy Wolff Sorter

Stabilizing Affordable Communities with Supportive Resident Services

By Flynann Janisse, Executive Director of Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation

The benefits surrounding the provision of quality affordable housing are truly held in the eyes of the beholder, with each player in the game evaluating by a different metric. However, the profitability of an affordable housing community is ultimately impacted most by the livelihood of its tenant base, which is typically an invisible factor of the equation during pre-occupancy stages and the initiation of operations. There are key building blocks experts have identified that impact social and economic change in communities and, in turn, solidify the sustainability and solvency of investment in them. The overall return on investment in affordable housing can be maximized when owners, operators and those living in communities are aligned with capacity, opportunity and liberation.

Resident retention is a key indicator in the financial performance of an asset. It offers validation that those rooted in the community are living and thriving safely within their surroundings. Service-enriched housing models have proven time and again to provide a foundation that supports the stabilization of a tenant population, which would otherwise lack connectivity to resources and technical support in advancing life skills. Tailoring programs and services to the demographics of a community, by leveraging the strengths of its tenants, creates a pathway for connectivity to resources for social and economic advancement. Redefining tenants as the catalyst to community development is essential for long-term returns on investments and sustainable, quality affordable housing.

A well-designed, service-enriched housing model that supports tenants’ needs and wants by bridging them with their goals and aspirations is well-suited for market-rate or affordable housing complexes. Capitalizing on space-sharing with mixed-income developments can yield wonderful promise for neighborhoods, cities and regions by way of stimulating the economy. Core programming geared toward education, financial literacy, job placement, vocational training and family services can all be molded to support any community living setting, regardless of the situational complexity. The accessibility to such services eliminates various barriers to entry, broadens life skills and, ultimately, supports future success and tenant stabilization.

Creating sustainable communities is critical to local economies, and an investment in human capital adds an extra pinch of innovation to the think tank of housing solutions. When this investment is supported by a robust resident services program, owners, operators and tenants alike reap the benefits.

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