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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

3 min read

For decades now, “it takes a village” has been part of the American vernacular. The complete phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” likely emanated from an African proverb meaning that the entire community must interact with the children for them to grow in a safe and healthy environment. However, some scholars believe it comes from Native Americans. Though its exact origins remain elusive, academics correctly point out that the proverb embodies the communal spirit of several African and Native American societies.

While the original meaning is self-explanatory, these days its connotation is broader in scope, referring to many a situation where additional teamwork and support are warranted.

Still, as an industry, we could learn something from the original proverb and the communal societies it derives from. It’s the idea that resident services and community amenities are needed to create and grow communities that support residents.

Communities don’t come about by accident. They require commitment and teamwork. Builders/developers must be deliberate about incorporating services and amenities that generate a communal feeling by providing quality resources critical to healthy and equitable communities.

Case in point. The Guru Is In, and A Critical Need for Resident Services, are reminders that while services and amenities are key to residents’ well-being, realistically those services cannot be provided if first housing is not built. It’s the act of addressing current needs while providing services that forges properties into communities.

A Common Goal cites a recent 2022 report finding that many organizations rely on third-party providers to deliver resident services. Effectively creating its own village. One such provider includes relocation services, which we learn more about from Chris Jones, CEO of Housing Opportunities Unlimited, in Breaking Ground.

And in Case Study: Massachusetts Projects Cultivate Resident-Centered Communities two projects by different developers strive for an ongoing connection between residents and services beyond the usual care programs. Current programs and amenities include calming aesthetics, food and trauma programs, vaccination clinics, computer training, access to technology, communal spaces and more. For these developers, it’s all about building stable housing, creating opportunities and providing a supportive community for residents.

As Ellie Fanning, executive director of Portfolio Resident Services, says in A Common Goal, “…Where we’ve seen silos in the past…, we are now coming together as a more comprehensive, open-armed group and community to have these discussions about what we are going to do to fix it.”

So, for those who ascribe to the, “it takes a village” model, it’s not just about developing housing. Rather the whole village (property owners, operators and service providers) must work together towards a common goal – safe and healthy housing. After all, that’s the affordable housing industry’s esprit de corps.

Jessica Hoefer