Resources For Human Development

Strategic messaging to move essential supportive short-term housing services forward

Resources for Human Development (RHD) is a national human services nonprofit that’s served people of all experiences and abilities for more than 50 years. RHD came to Message Agency in need of a strategic messaging framework to help garner more support for their upcoming location change for one of their essential services: housing for adults experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

"We learned a lot about messaging, and Message Agency took the time to explain the 'why' ... We have been using the messaging framework when engaging people, and you can see people shift to buy into the language."

Owen Camuso, Regional Director – Pennsylvania Behavioral Health & Housing Division, Resources for Human Development

The Challenge

RHD’s Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) is the only year-round, 24-7, emergency housing service for single adult men and women experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County.  Originally located on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital, the CHOC provides emergency shelter, street outreach, service counseling, transportation, rapid rehousing, meals, clothing, life skills and benefits counseling.  RHD was notified that it needed to find a new location to make way for private development of the property.  After identifying an unused commercial parcel in Providence Township, PA, nearby neighbors—including a local church—expressed substantial opposition to relocating this critical resource to their neighborhood.

Message Agency helped RHD develop a well-crafted messaging strategy to shift the perception of their project from a threat or nuisance to an investment in the shared strength and stability of a community.  To be successful, the campaign needed to sway public sentiment, promote local support for this critical service, restore dignity to community members who need assistance, and educate the entire community about the shared economic and social benefits of a strong and stable social fabric. 

Our Approach

We used our expertise in audience / user research, message development, communications strategy, and content strategy to develop a messaging strategy that uses evidence- and strengths-based messaging to persuade key local stakeholders to support your project.  Our research included conducting workshops with RHD and County officials who are focused on addressing homelessness, reviewing benchmark campaigns across the country, and drawing from the research of organizations such as the Housing Narrative Lab to develop a framework that RHD could use with nearby residents, County elected officials, the press, and the general public to help garner support for their project. 

Our deliverable included a core message with themes and proof points, along with audience-specific messaging that addressed the perspectives of key stakeholders:  Residents, Elected Township Officials, Businesses and Churches, and Supporters.  We also provided RHD with suggested storytelling tactics to help inform their public education campaign.

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