Keeping Trust Long Term
Build and maintain good neighbour relationships
“Do it with service, love, honesty, and sincerity. Build trust and then build more trust.”
The primary goal of this resource (as designed by community voices, housing providers, and faith community members) is to support building healthy relationships. The five core values all point in this direction, and most of the suggestions will work to make room for trust and good relations to become the pattern.
The reality is there are plenty of barriers and threats to good relations. The local community may have significant fears and worries that raise the temperature and spark opposition. Some of these fears are rooted in who the local business or community voices imagine will be living there.
Quote: “It can be heard in comments like, “How do you screen your tenants? How do you ensure our community remains safe?” At my house I don’t get to pick who is my next door neighbour. The zoning bylaw is very clear. It’s not about the USER, its about the USE. However, its so important that you don’t offend the people you’re talking to. You do have to address their concerns.” (Cam MacDonald, Right at Home Housing)
Addressing people’s concerns with patience and respect is the best way to help them better understand and put their fears and concerns into context.
Good Neighbour Agreements
Iris Court had a “Good Neighbour Agreement” which included information about tenants, services, house rules, and how the organization planned to respond to community complaints. Framing and keeping this agreement was very helpful to strengthening their relationship with the local community. Even the tenants like having it there because they feel both safe and welcome in the local neighbourhood.
Here is Iris Court’s agreement to give some ideas:
In developing your own Good Neighbour Agreement, ask the community what they are looking for. Bring your own ideas forward and pull together a draft with both. Then ask the community for feedback on the agreement and what you can do to strengthen it. We suggest keeping it open for revisions and amendments as needed.
What you can do to be a good neighbour
Look past the property line!
Ambrose Place (a Permanent Supportive Housing Facility providing home to some of the hardest to house people in Edmonton) explains some of what it does to be a good neighbour.
“We knew from the beginning the community wanted us to fail. Because of this we knew in order to be a success story, we would have to be a good neighbour. How? We keep our street clean, we invite neighbours for tea, we make sure our people are home and inside. We make sure our people don’t disturb the neighbourhood by providing them a safe space to live and eat. “Miyopimatisowin” = a good life. Because we provide a good life to our residents, we are able to be good neighbours.”
Staff at Ambrose Place watch out for neighbouring homes and properties as well, with cameras watching the alley to guard against petty crime and vandalism. Things have gone so well that they’ve now had people apologizing for initially denouncing their project.
A few practices to adopt:
- Respond to complaints!
- Keep relationships alive by interacting with local residents and businesses and participating in community events. Try working with the neighbours to plan a block party.
- Respond proactively to safeguard the cleanliness and order of your local community.