GUIDANCE : LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE
Funding aligns with the mission
There are some well-established ways to create affordable housing and coordinated services, but conventional funding strategies can sometimes conflict with the goals of a GHC.
Formal community development as practiced today gives priority to economic issues (job creation, housing affordability, etc.). To be sure, a community needs investment in order to develop. But to obtain that investment, it must play by the rules of investors, rules which often require that economic considerations dominate.
A GHC needs to be different. Even though it is a form of community development, it cannot be allowed to become primarily an economic undertaking or allow economic issues to overshadow or compromise the primary reasons for creating the program.
For example, if low-income housing tax credits are used to fund new housing construction for a GHC, control over who becomes a resident may be severely compromised, and structuring program participation through rental agreements may not be an option. The risk is that the community would become simply a low-income or affordable housing project, not a GHC.
The service economy
Hope Meadows has sometimes found its mission to be in tension with the economic practices of the child welfare system. For example, before children from foster care are adopted, the state pays the contracting foster-adoption agency a daily administrative fee per child. The day the child is adopted, this fee payment ceases. The obvious temptation is for an agency to drag out the adoption process in order to continue to receive funding, which is clearly not in the best interest of the child.
Finding the right mix
The challenge is to find the right mix of self-generated revenue (e.g. rents charged to residents, property equity, small-scale retail) and subsidies (e.g. public funding sources, philanthropic “soft loans” and grants) to launch and sustain a GHC, so that the strategies and commitments necessary to build and operate the program do not inadvertently sabotage the functioning of the community itself and its purpose.