Equitable and Affordable Housing Design

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

The City of Evanston, IL is designing a new framework for its affordable housing programs that will address the housing displacement risks and community development needs of its historically affordable, African American neighborhoods. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help design a sustainable, scalable framework for the creation of a new department to help preserve housing affordability, encourage housing retention in vulnerable neighborhoods, and maximize local economic impacts on building owners, residents, and businesses.

Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2022 – October 23, 2023

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Across America, historic racially motivated policies, exacerbated by the mortgage foreclosure crisis and 2008 economic recession, reinforce racial segregation in ways that make it nearly impossible for many low-income Black and Latino populations to maintain affordable homes. These housing policies have led to negative trickle-down impacts on the environmental health and physical wellness of these communities. For example, life expectancies in Evanston, IL range from 75 years in west Evanston’s census tract 8092 (primarily low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods) compared to 88 years in northeast Evanston’s census tract 8088 (primarily middle-upper class White residents)- a stark, 13-year differences. As the first US city to offer reparations for housing inequities for Black citizens, Evanston is working to institute affordable housing strategies to increase the health and wellness of all its residents.

In 2021, Evanston formed the Here to Stay (HTS) committee, a grass-roots subcommittee to address the growing disparities affecting access to affordable housing in Evanston. Comprised of real estate professionals, local developers, residents, and city stakeholders, the HTS committee is currently collaborating with the city to design a new institution for its affordable housing programs that will encourage housing retention for Evanston’s lower-income residents threatened by displacement as well as address the community development needs of Evanston’s historically affordable, African American neighborhoods, such as the 5th Ward, who are currently facing threats from gentrification.

Evanston will partner with FUSE Corps to help design a sustainable, scalable framework for a new affordable housing department to preserve housing affordability, encourage housing retention in vulnerable neighborhoods, and maximize local economic impacts on building owners, residents, and businesses. The FUSE Executive Fellow will: research successful program/department models; design operational frameworks for interdepartmental collaboration and cooperation; recommend workflow models for implementation; and research funding opportunities to sustain the program Ultimately, this work will lead to improved access to affordable housing, especially in vulnerable neighborhoods, resulting in reduced poverty, increased health equity, and improved quality of life in Evanston.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Beginning in October 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work with city staff and the HTS committee to research and recommend a new affordable housing department/program structure for Evanston.

The Executive Fellow will begin by researching successful affordable housing programs and departments from across the nation to determine best practices. This will involve examining solutions such as case management and financial help for struggling homeowners; financial literacy and counseling for low-income homebuyers; financial assistance to develop Additional Dwelling Units as affordable rental units; assessing new housing opportunities such as limited-equity housing cooperatives and co-housing; and new partnerships such as the UHOUSI Initiative to overcome barriers to homeownership. The Executive Fellow will also conduct a landscape analysis to map all existing housing programs, services, and service providers from both public and private sources.

The Executive Fellow will conduct research on current displacement patterns and gentrification risk to determine priority work areas. They will also research immediate opportunities to expand current efforts for affordable housing and housing improvements for low-moderate income households in Evanston. Emphasis will be placed on low to moderate-income Black and Latino residents living in Census tracts with the highest concentrations of vulnerable residents, as they are especially vulnerable to displacement (i.e., Census tracts 8092, 8096 and 8102).

The Executive Fellow will then work to design a sustainable, scalable framework for a new affordable housing department/program. This will include designing operational frameworks for interdepartmental collaboration and cooperation as well as recommending workflow models for connecting residents with available resources and services to build a network of wraparound services. The Executive Fellow will also work to identify robust funding opportunities to embed the new program as a key program for the city. This will include assessing national funds such as American Rescue Plan Act as well as local funding opportunities such as bonds, shared equity, and development strategies.

By October 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a landscape analysis- Research existing successful program elements and models from across the nation; research current displacement and gentrification patterns to determine community needs; and research current affordable housing opportunities for immediate implementation
  • Design a comprehensive programmatic framework – Identify successful operational plans for a new affordable housing program/department; determine overall objectives and methodology for goal setting, evaluating, selecting, and initiating potential projects within the new program design; establish timelines for implementation aligned with the city priorities; identify how to coordinate and leverage interdepartmental resources for maximum impact
  • Support long-term operation and development – Create strategic recommendations for long-term operation and continual evaluation of the new program ensuring community needs and economic and health equity is centered in all strategies; identify immediate opportunities to implement the program; identify long-term funding opportunities for program continuation and expansion; work with leadership across agencies and partners to effectively design a long-term program plan

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Bobby Burns, City Councilmember for the 5th Ward, City of Evanston, IL
  • Project Supervisor – Sarah Flax, Housing & Grants Manager, Community Development Department

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in program development, data analysis, and affordable housing development and/or financing is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.