Partnerships can help add elements to a project, share and limit risk, and increase financial viability. These are all great reasons to look for partners for your affordable housing development project, but the hardest questions can revolve around who to partner with, and how to know if it will be a fruitful relationship.



When considering potential partners for your project it is important to understand the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.


When considering who you are partnering with you should look across all sectors; and understand which groups are available to partner with within the development process, including the local community members and organizations, relevant policy-makers, and charities and volunteers. Having a list of potential partners at the onset of a project can help you navigate what a housing project may look like, how to make decisions about moving forward, or how to overcome challenges.


After creating a list of potential partners, it is important to understand what kind of support they would provide and how you can leverage it. You should also assess what benefit the project gains through the support. Does the partnership improve the project’s financials, provide a benefit for the tenants, increase the project’s community support, fill a need, or some other benefit? In any healthy partnership, it is also critical to reflect on what benefit you are providing to them as well. Having a mutually beneficial relationship will increase the likelihood that the partnership will ultimately be successful.


Beyond the actual support and benefit, you should also ask yourself why you are partnering with this organization. Do you have similar values or complementary missions? Have you worked with them before, and if so, why was that partnership formed? How have you complemented each other’s mission since then and how can you continue to do so in the future, including supporting each other’s missional growth if applicable?


Now that you are confident about who you want to partner with, why them, and what they are providing, you should assess the timing of the partnership. This can be particularly important if the partner is giving financial support. When will the fund be received and do you need to cashflow the contribution in the meantime? Also make sure that you know what the process is for ensuring accountability from them, and yourself, too.


Consider where your partner and their staff are located and if being in different neighbourhoods, regions, or provinces affects any of the elements of your agreements. Oftentimes, creating lasting partnerships can prove difficult if all of the conversations happen virtually. Although, sometimes those groups that can best support you and align with your mission may not be located nearby. Consider the benefits and risks of partnering with organizations that are local or distant.


How will you create this partnership? Consider what type of agreement will be put into place to ensure that both groups are providing the support and benefits that were agreed upon. If there is a disagreement, do you have a method to come to a consensus or will the project be put at risk from moving forward?

Finding strong and lasting partnerships can be crucial to a successful project. By answering these key questions can help ensure the partnership has a strong foundation.

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