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The Six Cs of Supportive Housing Development

On October 5th, Massachusetts’ Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) accepted pre-applications for its Supportive Housing for Vulnerable Populations Round, in which the Commonwealth will allocate capital, operating and supportive services resources through the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF); state capital subsidy funds; and the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). This competition marks the fifth time in as many years that DHCD has held a dedicated supportive housing competition.

Thanks to the HTF and Housing Innovations Fund (HIF) programs as well as the Facilities Consolidation Fund (FCF) and the Community Based Housing (CBH) program, developers in Massachusetts can target affordable rental units and services to veterans, seniors, homeless individuals and families, people with chronic disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and others. Together, DHCD and CEDAC have funded thousands of units through these programs and created a significant portfolio of dedicated supportive housing throughout the Commonwealth – and the need for these units continues to grow. These funding programs as well as others that DHCD and CEDAC manage are awaiting reauthorization through the Commonwealth’s Housing Bond Bill, which we hope will be adopted later this year.

At CEDAC, we have a long tradition of providing technical assistance to affordable housing developers via our acquisition and predevelopment lending programs as well as through our work with DHCD, and we often work with developers who are planning supportive housing projects that will deploy state housing resources. We’ve put together some tips that we like to think of as The Six Cs of Supportive Housing Development (with gratitude to CEDAC Senior Project Manager Bronia Clifton for sharing her expertise in preparing supportive service plans). We hope you’ll refer to this list when you plan your next supportive housing project and prepare to apply for funds.

  1. Clarity.
    Identify the population you plan to serve in this project, and prepare a detailed service plan, including proposed staffing, that clearly supports the target population. How do you know that there is a need for this housing in your community? What are the outcomes – both in terms of housing stability and long-term goals – that you hope to help residents achieve, and how will you measure those outcomes?
  2. Capacity.
    Have you served this population before? Do you have an organizational partner with a strong track record working with your target population? Do the other members of your development team have experience with this type of housing? Be prepared to describe that experience and the ways in which it will benefit your current project.
  3. Capital.
    Have you identified appropriate capital sources for the population you intend to serve, and does your pro forma reflect this? Make sure you go to the CEDAC and/or DHCD websites, read the NOFAs and guidelines for the program(s) you intend to use, and be sure your application reflects program requirements. In addition, how does your project’s physical space reflect the needs of the population you plan to serve, with regard to accessibility, group and individual programming, meals, etc.?
  4. Cost (of services).
    How will you pay for supportive services over the life of the project? Do you or your service provider plan to fundraise, is there a contract with a state agency (e.g., Department of Veterans Services or Department of Developmental Services), can the project support a line item in the operating budget for resident services, or some combination of these approaches? We’ll want to review a supportive service plan and accompanying budget when you submit your application.
  5. Contracts.
    Will you or a partner sign a service contract with a public agency? Maybe you’ll have several smaller contracts. We’ll want to review those agreements if they already exist, or proposed terms if still under negotiation, and compare them against your projected annual service budget. And if you’re the developer, will you sign a contract or other legal document with a service provider? Under what terms? We’ll want to review that as well.

The sixth C? Call us.

We love to talk about supportive housing, and we want to help you put together a great project, whatever stage of predevelopment you’re in. Feel free to give me a call at 617-727-5944. Or if you regularly work with another CEDAC project manager, they are happy to help too.

Categories: CEDAC, Housing

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