Residents Lead


Residents rarely have choice or power over decisions that impact them


Create a multi-generational team of resident leaders who advocate to POAH staff and other affordable housing stakeholders


Host a pop-up feedback session on an upcoming change to the Brandy Hill property


Launch local and national leadership programs, including a resident-to-resident leadership program, state and local advocacy program and Resident Advisory Board

Residents in affordable rental housing rarely have power over decisions that impact them - such as housing rules and policies or changes to the landscape or interiors of their home. A team of residents and staff wanted to change this. They developed an idea for a new resident council that would not just influence decisions at their apartment community but would also advocate to elected officials and affordable housing stakeholders.

People gathered on a basketball court.
Residents and staff at Brandy Hill host a pop-up feedback session about an upcoming renovation.

The team at Brandy Hill Apartments realized they needed to understand whether residents felt safe and empowered to advocate for what they want, and whether they felt comfortable sharing those opinions with their neighbors. To test their idea, the team decided to host a pop-up feedback session on a topic that would have immediate impact: the redesign and potential relocation of the property’s basketball court. Their pop-up was a big success. Residents of all ages came out to weigh-in, share stories of the court and talk about what it means to them. POAH staff had felt the court needed to be repaired and moved to another location on property. But during the pop-up the staff learned that its location was one of the most important features. As a result, they changed their renovation plans and set out to look for more ways for residents to take on leadership roles, such as by leading community programs.

Building on the pop-up prototype, staff and residents worked together to brainstorm new ways for residents to lead in their community. Residents would host community events like movie-nights or cookouts and use the events to recruit new resident leaders. These residents would then participate in workshops to learn how to run their own community building programs – for residents, by residents.

Key Learning

Residents have a desire to lead but are rarely invited to take a meaningful role in issues that matter to them. POAH needed to create more opportunities for resident feedback that are relevant and actionable.

The experience also influenced POAH staff outside of Brandy Hill. As a national owner/operator of affordable rental housing, POAH often advocates on federal policy issues. However, many policy issues that impact residents happen at the state and local level. So POAH launched a state and local advocacy effort focused on getting resident input and engagement closer to home.

In addition, POAH also launched a national Resident Advisory Board comprised of resident leaders from across its portfolio. The Resident Advisory Board meets directly with POAH leadership, learns about strategic initiatives and weighs in issues that directly impact residents. Examples include things like improvements to the annual lease renewal process, how to improve communication between residents and site staff or ways to strengthen a program that compensates residents for their contributions to their community.

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