The City of Columbus recognizes that housing instability is an increasing challenge for many residents, but certain communities and neighborhoods face greater risks of evictions, displacements, and homelessness. To better understand the challenge and develop more proactive approaches to increasing housing stability, Mayor Ginther’s administration will engage a FUSE Executive Fellow to collect and analyze data from a wide array of sources. This information will help inform a data-driven action plan that carefully incorporates community perspectives and is built to be dynamic and sustainable.

Fellowship Dates: October 21, 2024 – October 20, 2025

Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Specific neighborhoods in Columbus face increased risks of housing insecurity when compared to average rates throughout the City. Lack of housing stability can ultimately lead to defaults, evictions, displacements, and homelessness, particularly among more vulnerable communities. These outcomes are disproportionately experienced by BIPOC communities, New Americans who have recently immigrated, and those living in historically underserved and marginalized parts of the City. Rising prices, expiring restrictions, and predatory investors are also currently displacing residents. The City recognizes that various intersectional factors contribute to the relative stability of housing.

The Columbus Department of Development is responsible for code enforcement, economic development, housing, land redevelopment, neighborhood services, and planning. The Department’s Housing Division serves Columbus by preserving and producing housing that helps build strong, distinct, and vibrant neighborhoods. The Housing Division offers programs to assist homeowners, housing developers, and rental property owners. Through these teams, the City is currently working to better understand the root causes and major factors contributing to housing instability in specific communities.

The City will engage a FUSE Executive Fellow to gather and analyze data from a variety of sources to develop a more comprehensive understanding of housing dynamics among vulnerable communities. In creating a more inclusive, data-driven early warning system, this project will enable the City to allocate resources most strategically to address the needs of those currently experiencing housing instability while also endeavoring to avoid the levels of homelessness currently facing most major cities. This project will ultimately enable the City to work more effectively toward increasing housing stability for underserved residents on a citywide basis.

PROJECT SUMMARY

The FUSE Executive Fellow will begin the project by conducting a cross-sector listening tour with key stakeholders from relevant city departments, other governmental entities, private sector companies, associations, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, and community leaders. The Executive Fellow will seek to understand the primary and secondary factors driving housing insecurity in Columbus. Conversations will focus particularly on understanding existing racial disparities and delving more deeply into the specific challenges facing significantly impacted and potentially vulnerable communities.

The Executive Fellow will supplement these conversations with a major research effort to identify and collect locally specific data related to housing. This may include factors such as trends in rental rates, homeownership costs, housing availability, investor activity, defaults, eviction patterns, and expiring subsidies. It will also include contributing drivers of household financial security, such as inflationary pressures, household income, workforce development, healthcare costs, financial literacy, demographic shifts, immigration status, language barriers, public transportation availability, and other factors. Some data may originate from city, county, state, or federal sources, while other data will be gathered from external sources. The research will also review how different cities collect and utilize similar data to identify best practices that may be applied in Columbus.

In collaboration with leaders from the Department of Development and the Department of Technology, the Executive Fellow will play a pivotal role in identifying the most relevant data sources for inclusion in a centralized data repository. This repository will undergo rigorous data quality validation before integration into a comprehensive dashboard, which will depict the current state of housing vulnerability across the city.

Utilizing existing city data management and visualization platforms, the data sources, repository, and dashboard will be designed as a sustainable, long-term tool for the city. This tool will be dynamically updatable, with data visualizations automatically adjusting as new information is incorporated into the model. Geo-mapping data on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis will be essential to pinpoint specific areas with the most acute community needs.

The Department of Development will act as the Business Owner for the project, while the Department of Technology will provide data solutions and services to support project deliverables. This data synthesis will help shape a more comprehensive understanding of the forces that are driving housing insecurity in Columbus. As the City works to take proactive steps to avoid evictions and displacements, this data will help shape predictive models to identify strategies that will have the largest social return on investment among those individuals and families who are most at risk. The Executive Fellow will help develop a multiyear action plan outlining data-driven interventions such as targeted tenant protection policies, code enforcement strategies, approaches to help preserve existing affordable housing units, community land trust investments, and wealth-building initiatives.

These insights will help inform the City’s strategic planning, program offerings, infrastructure development, policy decisions, and resource allocations. The Executive Fellow will also create a community engagement plan to share insights and solicit input while also building public support for proposed action plans. Before the project’s conclusion, the Executive Fellow will help support the sustainability of these efforts by ensuring that plans are in place for city staff and community leaders to collaborate on continuously updating data inputs and the conclusions they inform to help stabilize at-risk communities.

PROJECT DELIVERABLES

  • Develop and launch a housing vulnerability dashboard that integrates key datasets to predict communities most at risk of experiencing housing instability.
  • Support the development of a multiyear action plan outlining data-driven housing stability interventions for the most vulnerable communities.
  • Create a community engagement plan to share data insights, gather input, and build support for proactive solutions and action plans.
  • Establish a post-fellowship sustainability plan to ensure that data is continuously updated and that the City’s action plans reflect the most current information available.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor: Danius Williams, Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Project Supervisor: Erin Prosser, Deputy Director, Housing Strategies

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to complex challenges.
  • Respond quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively verbally and in writing and excels in active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies to support more effective decision-making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with diverse stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, particularly community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE is an equal-opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.