APAHI 2019 Class Project Award Winner: PLAN 661
FINDING OUR WAY HOME: HOW CAN OUR COMMUNITY ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS?
Collaboration Between Sectors Deliberation Guide on Homelessness
By: John Canner, Jaeho Choi, Emily Clark, Sara Doermann, Collin Ford, Stephen Geib, Ruadhán Hughes, Kendrick Leong, Manu Mei-Singh, Katia Moraes, Lloyd Puckett, Selena Qiu, Amanda Rothschild, Carolyn Weygan-Hildebrand. Guided by Dolores Foley & Anne Smoke
In Spring 2019, at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 14 graduate students attended the Department of Urban and Regional Planning course PLAN 661: Collaboration Between Sectors. Throughout the semester, students examined collaborative strategies for organizational and community change and modeled these strategies to develop an issue guide promoting deliberation on the critical issue of homelessness in Hawaii.
Preparation of the issue guide included reviewing the work of various other guides including one on homelessness in Mis- sissippi and guest lectures from politicians, service providers, housing providers, and a Kalihi community member who had been homeless for ten years on O‘ahu. Along with hearing these various perspectives the students researched national and local programs and efforts that are addressing this issue. Students learned how to place themselves as neutral facilitators to better understand citizen needs and concerns, promote thoughtful conversation, and address actual rather than assumed problems.
The students used the format of the Kettering Foundation’s National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) to develop a guide focused on homelessness on O‘ahu. The format is rooted in the simple notion that people need to come together to reason and talk— to deliberate about common problems. The Kettering Foundation has produced over 40 issue guides focusing on issues such as the opioid epidemic, land use, medicare, and immigration. NIFI also produces materials on organizing, moderating, and facilitating forums. The students of PLAN 661 adopted this model for a local context and presented their issue guide for deliberation at the Pearl City Community Church. Feedback and self-reflections from this event further guided improvements in the guide and deliberation process.
Kettering Foundation commended the students’ work, noting that “in your issue framework you have made very clear the things that we hold valuable and that are in tension. Each option gives voice to collective safety, being treated fairly, and having freedom – and the tensions between them.”
The 2019 APA Hawai’i Chapter Awards Jury recognizes the Finding Our Way Home issue guide for its two-fold significance, noting that it is designed to raise public awareness of good planning practices and is a practical and effective ready-to-use tool for engaging Hawaii’s community. The jury also noted that the guide successfully packaged a complex range of perspectives into a digestible, relatable discussion guide allowing participants to question, reflect, and speak to those who think differently from themselves.