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Municipal Housing Committee Toolkit - Membership

Often, the same few people are working on multiple campaigns and projects in a community. While it is always valuable to reach out to the community's strong activists and leaders, it is also valuable to gain new perspectives and increase the capacity of other community members to organize and envision housing. Some ways to conduct a wider recruitment strategy include:

  • House parties: Hosting a public house party can be a great, casual way to start the conversation about affordable housing, or continue the conversation while including new and interested people in the area.
  • Business breakfasts: Similarly, a morning meet-up at a local business for breakfast can help to involve a wider range of community members in a public setting. This can increase the housing committee’s visibility and help to include more voices in your discussions.
  • Faith communities: Ask local faith communities if they have interest in discussing fair and affordable housing. This also helps to expand the pool of voices in the discussion, providing the perspective of another group of people who may be interested in participating in a committee.

Housing committee members

Composition of the committee should strive to be reflective of the community while including members with expertise in the complex issues associated with housing.  Ideally candidates would be sought from the local regional planning commission, school district, housing non-profit and include a private sector landlord, housing developer, renter and homeowner.

Ideal committee size

To enable the committee to be satisfied with its progress, some existing committees report that 7-9 members is ideal.  This size allows the committee to represent the various viewpoints and areas of expertise needed for progress while not being too big to brainstorm and discuss important issues together.  Having too few members can place undue burden for committee work on single members and cause burnout, especially if the committee does not have municipal staff assistance. 

Terms for committee members

Committee members are typically appointed for a specific period of time, such as 2 years.  Terms of less than 2 years may not provide enough time to accomplish tasks at hand, especially when a regulation change must be approved by the town's planning commission and/or elected board.  Typically, when a member's term is up, they either apply to elected board for reappointment or leave the committee. Term options include:

  • Mix of 2-year 3-year committee membership terms 
  • All 2- year terms
  • All 3-year terms