Public Participation Best Practices: An Assessment of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
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The purpose of this research is to establish a practical ideal type public participation model and gauge public participation policies at the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). TDHCA is a good case study because the department is responsible for funding most affordable housing developments in the state. As the state's lead agency tasked with funding rehabilitation and construction of new affordable housing, it is imperative that department administrators collaborate with stakeholders, legislators, and neighborhood residents. An effective public participation policy must be in place to ensure underrepresented and vulnerable Texans have the opportunity to participate in policy formation. The available literature was reviewed to develop best practice methods and the best practice policy was compared with participation policies at TDHCA. Focused interviews with TDHCA staff were conducted to gather data about specific public participation policies at the department. The interview results, when compared to the ideal model, identified several areas where TDHCA policy could be improved. TDHCA is not taking advantage of new media resources to connect with citizens. Additionally, TDHCA should focus on staff development to improve written and oral communication with the public.