Phase C: Monitor and update a local housing strategy
It is important to establish a plan for how the strategy’s progress will be tracked and reported. A robust monitoring process will help localities regularly keep tabs on which parts of their strategy meet, exceed, or fail to meet expectations and allow them to make necessary adjustments (e.g., reassess initial goals or dedicate more resources to a particular program). Localities should also consider how they will report the strategy’s progress to the public and elected officials to increase visibility and transparency, hold implementation partners accountable, and foster continued community support.
Assessing and reporting performance over time will also benefit localities when revising or updating their local housing strategy. The monitoring process will help localities better understand what’s working, what’s not working, where there are gaps in policies and programs, and what opportunities might exist to strengthen the existing strategy. Localities should consider their local housing strategy as an iterative process; it will need to be regularly adjusted based on the locality’s changing needs. Where needed, localities can make adjustments mid-strategy.
The following are the four steps of Phase C:
C1. Develop a monitoring plan
Localities will want to launch a monitoring process to systematically measure progress against high-level goals, sub-goals, programmatic goals, and milestones developed in Phase B. In their monitoring plan, localities should set clear expectations for who will be responsible for tracking progress, how necessary data will be collected, and when the results will be reported to the public and city leadership.
Localities may choose to identify a subset of goals and metrics from their local housing strategy (e.g., total affordable housing units built and preserved) for periodic tracking and reporting. Ideally, localities should conduct a very transparent monitoring process that allows partners, elected officials, and the public to easily understand the progress made. Periodically sharing results with the public can encourage the strategy’s responsible parties to remain focused on achieving their expected results and ensure housing activities remain a high priority among other competing local government priorities. Some localities choose to increase transparency by tracking their progress online. Here are three sample dashboards for tracking progress:
Incorporating housing strategy updates as a major agenda item in local council meetings or public hearings, preparing a dedicated website with third-party oversight, translating plan documents into multiple languages, preparing annual progress reports, and collecting community feedback on an ongoing basis are all ways to improve visibility and accountability.
As part of their monitoring plans, localities can also identify when opportunities will take place for the local housing strategy’s implementation partners to review data, discuss how the implementation is proceeding, and, if needed, refine implementation.
C2. Report periodically
Localities will want to report their local housing strategy’s progress to stakeholders (e.g., local departments, external partners, the public, and elected officials) during opportunities identified in their monitoring plan and other occasions. Regularly sharing updates on progress can benefit the local housing strategy’s implementation in several ways, including by helping implementation partners identify opportunities to collaborate or more effectively allocate resources, promoting accountability among partners, providing information to elected officials to aid decision-making, and explaining the impact of housing activities to constituents.
Localities’ periodic reports generally include a summary of their local housing strategy’s achievements and identify its met and unmet goals and changes.
C3. Adjust strategy as needed
While monitoring and reporting the local housing strategy’s progress, localities will likely encounter times when they identify a need to recalibrate their approach to ensure they stay on track toward meeting their goals. For example, they may need to adopt new policy tools because the planned approach is not having a large enough impact. Localities may also need to adjust proposed housing investments to align with other local plans (e.g., capital improvement, comprehensive, and transportation plans) and emerging priorities.
Localities may wish to reconvene the local housing strategy’s steering committee and technical group periodically (e.g., every two to three years) to consider whether modifications are needed to the strategy. Localities may also need to make necessary course corrections in response to emergencies (e.g., a pandemic or natural disaster).
C4. Periodically update the strategy
Typically, localities should consider doing a full update of their local housing strategy every five to eight years to reflect updated data and information on policy performance. Larger and medium-sized jurisdictions may wish to update their strategies every five years, and smaller jurisdictions somewhat less often.