Your written housing policy can be implemented after it has received final approval. But remember that putting a policy in place is more than just copying it into a policy manual. A policy is useful only if it’s known by and made available to those affected by it.
Distribute the approved housing policy to everybody it affects. They should be encouraged to ask any questions they might have about the policy. Be sure to answer their questions clearly and completely.
This includes the staff who will implement the housing policy. It’s good practice to meet personally with staff to review any new policy. During these meetings, explain the housing policy in clear terms and encourage staff to ask questions. Any concerns about implementation should be addressed at this time. Staff should also be told to let their managers know if they expect any problems when applying the policy.
Apply the housing policy fairly
It’s important to apply policies fairly and consistently to maintain people’s trust in them — and in your leadership. If you don’t, it may become more challenging to enforce your policies as time goes on. Applying a policy inconsistently or unfairly can actually be worse than having no policy at all.
Of course, it can be hard to apply policies consistently, especially in cases where only some people seem to benefit. For example, you might have a tenant-selection policy that results in some people receiving housing while others do not. In this case, you could face resistance to the policy from members of the community or even the community’s leadership.
If this happens, the housing manager should explain the situation to chief and council. The manager should say how important it is to enforce policies and what the consequences are of not enforcing them. When the situation has been explained, the community’s leadership will have 2 options. They can seek to have the policy amended or let the policy be enforced as is.
Monitor how the policy is implemented
It can be hard to implement even the most carefully planned and prepared housing policy. For example, problems with how the policy is worded may not be obvious until it’s applied in the real world. Or the situation the policy was designed to address may have changed, making the policy irrelevant. Unexpected situations may also arise that the policy just didn’t consider.
All of these — and other challenges — can prevent effective implementation of a policy. Your housing policy must be monitored throughout its lifetime, especially when it’s first put in place. Catching and correcting problems early makes implementing your policies much easier over the longer term.
For more information, please contact your First Nation Housing Specialist.