Organizations that advocate for and build affordable housing will play central roles in the campaign for a linkage fee. They have expertise in both the extent of the problem and what it will take to solve it. These organizations can also mobilize residents who are directly affected by the jobs/housing imbalance.
If the linkage fee will be used to address other community needs as well, then advocacy organizations involved in those issues will also play a core role.
The mission of many community organizations will b advanced by a linkage fee. Those concerned with regional equity, smart growth, and opportunities for low-income residents will all be valuable allies. The specific organizations will vary according to local circumstances, but could include social service providers, religious organizations, community based organizations, environmental activists, labor unions or job training advocates.
Well-informed, supportive citizens are always helpful in winning adoption of a linkage program, and they are crucial to its long-term viability. Even if the majority of city council representatives appear supportive of a linkage program, educate and mobilize the public. A ballot referendum, a petition campaign, a candidate questionnaire are all tools that can help build and demonstrate public support.
At some point, and the earlier the better, a linkage campaign will need the assistance of supportive government officials. City council members can sponsor legislation and talk to their colleagues about the benefits of a linkage program. City staff can be influential as well, because elected officials rely on them for information and advice.
Because a specific proposal is a core piece of a linkage campaign, people with expertise in law, development, and planning should play an active advisory role along the way. They can help make rate calculations, word ordinances, and prepare reports on the projected results of the program.
A crucial element in developing and winning a successful linkage campaign is background research. In addition to the research necessary to develop a good proposal (see How To Use It section), be prepared to argue for the need for and fairness of a linkage program in general. The following information can be very helpful:
An effective linkage program is not extremely technical, but assistance from a lawyer and a planner with economic development expertise is nonetheless worthwhile.
Lawyers can help:
Planners can help:
It is important to reach out to unions early in the process and listen to their concerns regarding a linkage fee. Chances are their worries can be addressed as the linkage fee program proposal is developed, but if opponents get to them first with tales of the death of commercial development and loss of jobs, it will be hard to repair the damage.
Developers, especially those with ambitious commercial development plans, are unlikely to support a linkage program in large numbers. However, there will be some in the business community who recognize the importance of affordable housing to the long-term economic health of the community. And residential developers may gain from an effective linkage program. It's worth the effort to recruit business leaders to endorse a linkage campaign.