Gaining Traction for New Concepts
Translating Evidence Into Impact: HousingWorks RI
HousingWorks RI is a coalition of more than 140 organizations working to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have a quality, affordable home—an essential component of the state’s economy. Members include banks, builders, chambers of commerce, colleges, community-based agencies and advocates, faith groups, manufacturers, preservationists, realtors, municipal officials and unions. Their collective aim is to improve housing rental and ownership opportunities in Rhode Island, especially for the state’s workforce, thus strengthening the state’s economy.
As a new organization, HousingWorks RI needed to establish itself as a platform for highlighting the lack of affordable housing and motivating change across the state. Even though state law mandated that every city and town needed to have 10% affordable housing, there was very little understanding of actual compliance with this law. All previous efforts to focus on this issue had been on the local level. This issue needed to be elevated by this new, larger organization in order to achieve real change across the state. HousingWorks RI needed an identifiable brand and identity to serve as a recognizable platform for their mission. Communication needed to be focused on affordable housing as a serious problem that needed to be solved on the state level. The primary target audience included officials within state government who were being asked to fund additional affordable housing across the state. The secondary target audience included local officials who needed more awareness of the seriousness of this issue and their community’s level of compliance with the law.
- Raise awareness of the seriousness of this issue by visually demonstrating the median house prices within prominent areas in the state.
- Raise state and local awareness of affordable housing compliance by demonstrating the compliance of EACH city and town with the law.
- Initiate a bond campaign focused on generating state funding to build more affordable housing.
- Complete the Explore and Extract stages of the Orange Square process.
- Deliver written marketing strategy brief.
Strategy that drives the design
In the Explore stage, we gathered all of the information needed to identify what makes HousingWorks RI unique and to understand project and organizational goals, external influences and target audiences. In the Extract stage, we focused on outcome, not just output. We delivered a marketing strategy brief that outlines the project objectives, market, competition, and a plan for achieving organizational goals through insight-driven design. All design derives from this approved strategy document.
A distinct identity for affordable housing in Rhode Island
The logo was created to signal the creation of HousingWorks RI as an organization and coalition to end the state’s housing crisis. A tagline was included that leaves no question as to the ultimate goal of the organization’s efforts.
Who can even afford to live in Rhode Island?
A poster series depicted which of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns a family could live in based upon three levels of household income ($50K, $75K, and $100K). The posters also visualized the percentage of households that earned less than each of those incomes, painting a picture of the road ahead for improving and increasing affordable housing within the state.
The facts about Rhode Island’s affordable housing
The fact book—produced yearly—provided housing statistics for each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, as well as income and wage information. Additionally, housing affordability in RI was compared to that of 10 other U.S. communities.
News in brief
The Issue Brief was a quarterly newsletter with in-depth information about a key issue and progress to date. Issue briefs were used to both highlignt an issue and also to be thought leader addressing the key issues.
The website was the premier resource for affordable housing in RI.
- Action steps you can take!
- “Affordable Housing 101” (RI’s crisis in a nutshell.)
- A photo gallery of Rhode Island affordable homes.
- Mythbusters! (the facts and just the facts.)
- Current data on home prices, rentals, and more.
- Approved town housing plans.
- Fun features (Where can YOU afford to live?)
- Helpful tools for advocates and builders.
- A huge glossary of housing terms.
- Links to every conceivable source of factual information.
- Local and national news.
- True-life stories.
- This year’s housing platform.
- Finally, each city and town had a fact sheet that they could download to see their progress to reaching the required 10% affordable housing in their communities.
Making the evidence visual, simple, and personal we made our case for the need of affordable housing in Rhode Island. Thanks to the coalition’s aggressive campaigning, the state legislature placed on the ballot a $50 million bond referendum to fuel housing construction. This amount was ten times more than legislators had earmarked for affordable housing in any previous legislative session. On Election Day, November 7, 2006, a near-record majority (66%) of Rhode Island voters approved the bond.
HousingWorks RI has become the state’s premiere source for accurate, timely, and easy to understand data on long-term affordable housing in Rhode Island.