The City of Durham, North Carolina is dedicated to fostering climate resiliency through equitable, affordable housing opportunities. The FUSE Executive Fellow will partner with FUSE Corps to conduct a funding assessment of both current and future opportunities and to develop a strategy to foster innovative climate resilience through existing and expanded accessibility of affordable housing.
Fellowship Dates: October 23, 2023 – October 21, 2024
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.
The most challenging aspect of preserving affordable housing is the ongoing operating costs. While securing funding for the construction of affordable housing poses significant initial obstacles, such as escalating land and construction costs, higher interest rates, and supply chain issues, the long-term sustainability of the housing is the primary concern. Utility costs are unpredictable and can contribute to financial uncertainty.
Incorporating quality design, renewable energy methods, and sustainable materials into affordable housing development is more difficult due to limited budgets and lack of experience. Consequently, this can result in higher operating costs over time and potentially lead to operating deficits. As a result, there is additional pressure to convert affordable housing units to market-rate units once the affordability restrictions expire.
The Infrastructure Reduction Act provides billions of dollars for climate and energy investment. Much of the funding is geared toward existing programs via formula grants. There are also other competitive funding opportunities based on the goals of the Act. Both scenarios potentially allow opportunities to incorporate sustainability into affordable housing rehabilitation, design, and construction.
Affordable housing is not often assumed to be climate resilient in nature or innovative in its design principles. Durham Housing Authority aims to change this through the utilization of climate-focused design mechanisms and the use of sustainable materials. Durham Housing Authority will create new, environmentally friendly affordable housing opportunities that reduce negative climate impact and improve the long-term health and vitality of their residents.
Durham Housing Authority is implementing its plan to turn 447 existing affordable housing units into 2,500 units of mixed-income housing, commercial and retail space. Durham Housing Authority will replace the existing 447 units and add another 1,000 units of affordable housing and market-rate units to create truly mixed-income communities. This is a unique opportunity to incorporate multiple types of climate-resilient components into affordable housing designs that will be increasingly energy efficient and help maintain the units as affordable.
Durham will partner with FUSE to foster climate resiliency through equitable, affordable housing opportunities. The FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct a funding assessment of both current and future opportunities and develop a strategy to improve the health, efficiency, and climate resiliency of existing and new affordable housing owned by the Durham Housing Authority, which serves the lowest-income and most vulnerable households in Durham. The FUSE Executive Fellow will work with the Durham Housing Authority to evaluate the climate resiliency of Authority’s existing housing portfolio, identify strategies to improve the health, energy efficiency and climate resiliency of both existing and new housing; develop a funding and grant strategy; and create a roadmap for the Durham Housing Authority to implement climate resilient practices going forward. The lessons learned from the Durham Housing Authority will inform the creation of a city-wide strategy to incorporate innovative design and products to advance health, efficiency, and resiliency. The Executive Fellow will act as a liaison between the Durham Housing Authority, the city, community stakeholders, consultants, and private partners during program implementation. This work will help support the city’s goal of increasing affordable housing units while ultimately addressing disparities and promoting environmental justice for historically disinvested communities.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and the FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
Beginning in October 2023, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work with city, community, and private stakeholders to research, recommend, and implement a strategy to expand Durham Housing Authority’s affordable housing climate resilient infrastructure. Ultimately, this will enable Durham, as a city, to expand its affordable housing offering and demonstrate its real commitment to climate resilience.
The Executive Fellow will meet with relevant stakeholders to collect information about the climate resiliency of existing affordable housing in Durham, focusing on the Durham Housing Authority’s portfolio and research best practices to make affordable housing healthy, efficient, and climate resilient. The Executive Fellow will identify current and projected funding opportunities to address affordable housing sustainability through the Infrastructure Reduction Act, state and local programs, and potential public-private partnerships. The Executive Fellow will center vulnerable communities to identify affordable housing strategies that prioritize high-risk, historically disinvested communities most impacted by climate change. The Executive Fellow will also research similar, successful programs from across the nation and around the globe to apply sector-specific best practices and lessons learned.
The Executive Fellow will use the collected information to work across agencies to design an affordable housing climate resiliency plan for the Durham Housing Authority that will serve as a case study and model for a citywide affordable housing climate resiliency strategy. This will include developing policies and strategies to promote innovation in design, product selection, and climate resiliency, identifying specific funding opportunities, and laying out a roadmap for incorporating the strategies in future development. The Executive Fellow will establish clear frameworks and mechanisms for implementing the new plan and tracking goals, programs, and policies resulting from the new plan. They will then work to begin program implementation by collaborating closely with city and community stakeholders to prioritize projects based on the community’s need to prioritize addressing legacies of inequity throughout Durham.
By October 2024, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:
- An examination of best practices in climate-resiliency and affordable housing – Engaged with all relevant stakeholders, including the Durham Housing Authority, city departments and public agencies, staff members, private business, and community members to better understand their perspectives, priorities, and concerns with regard to affordable housing; reviewed national, local, and global models for climate resilience in affordable housing to identify successful strategies that are scalable in Durham;
- A thorough and equitable review of funding opportunities – Identify strategies to expand climate resiliency in both existing and new affordable housing and develop a strategy to secure additional funding for affordable housing that focused on health, climate justice and resilience.
- Formed a comprehensive strategic plan and implementation framework for climate-resilient affordable housing expansion – Development of a strategic plan to enhance the health, energy efficiency and climate resiliency of the Durham Housing Authority’s existing and new affordable housing; ensured that the new plan is rooted in equity to include historically disinvested communities; and determined overall objectives and methodology for goal setting, evaluation, reporting, and regarding climate resilience in affordable housing.
- Executive Sponsor – Bertha Johnson, Deputy City Manager; City of Durham, NC
- Project Supervisor – Anthony Scott, CEO; Durham Housing Authority
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in affordable housing development, grant and funding research, and cross-department collaboration is strongly preferred for this project.
- 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 difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision-making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, particularly including 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.