Resident Voice and Agency in Affordable Rental Housing: A Qualitative Analysis

Quality, affordable housing is a foundational social determinant of health and has direct links to individual and family health. These links are further enhanced through the coordination and provision of resident services. However, in order to fully realize the role affordable housing can play in creating healthier and more equitable communities, housing and services must be connected in a way that recognizes and supports the agency of residents, and gives them a real voice in how day-to-day life is carried out in their community.

With support from the Kresge Foundation, SAHF engaged with members and key experts in community organizing, community participatory research, and affordable housing to explore existing strategies and barriers to collaborating with residents to promote greater resident agency and voice at both organizational and property levels. Through resident focus groups and interviews with frontline property staff and resident services leaders, SAHF has developed Resident Voice and Agency in Affordable Rental Housing: A Qualitative Analysis. This report is a summation of qualitative research conducted over ten months with the residents and staff of three different SAHF member properties located in Massachusetts, Ohio, and California.

The findings fall into three topical areas:

  • The interpersonal interactions and day-today processes that shape levels of resident agency;
  • Immediate and long-term implications for property operations, and;
  • Ways in which both residents and staff address individual and community-level trauma.

Within each area, affordable housing practitioners and advocates can take short- and long-term steps to improve resident satisfaction and foster community when partnering with residents.  

Related Tool: In 2021, SAHF published an update to our Framework for a System of Resident Services Coordination which lays out the key capacies, approaches, and structures that have been developed by many leading affordable housing organizations to thoughtfully frame and implement resident services at their properties. It also highlights strategies and opportunities to implement more resident-centered practices and processes that support greater equity and resident well-being.

 

Published: 2020

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