In many cities across the country, an Office of Neighborhoods coordinates information delivery and helps neighborhoods help themselves, through a variety of programs, from small-scale grants to technical assistance. Through this office, citizen input is directed to the people who can act on it and neighborhood leaders are engaged with city government on a regular basis. Working for more effective government treatment of neighborhood concerns, the objective of these offices, in the words used by Seattle, is to “connect people, communities, and government.”
However, the projects undertaken by these offices are widely varied. In Charlotte, the Office of Neighborhood Development administers a Community University, where neighborhood leaders can take leadership training courses with resources to build the capacity of their neighborhood organizations. In Charleston, their Office of Neighborhood Services assists with the planning and execution of self-help projects, like neighborhood cleanups and beautification. In many cities, there are also small matching grants available for neighborhood organizations to help complete a specific project. Finally, since one of the goals for these offices is increased transparency and communication, many of them have neighborhood liaisons and neighborhood meetings with public officials, most notably Baltimore’s Open Dialogue with the Mayor.
There is a possibility that something similar could work here in New Orleans. Combining the strength of neighborhood groups across the city with an Office specifically designed to help them (and help them to navigate government) is a very appealing idea. It would allow the city to better understand and engage with neighborhoods consistently during recovery, making redevelopment more efficient and more equitable by building upon the strong foundation provided by neighborhood organizations. The development of this Office of Neighborhoods could be a part of the Citizen Participation Process, led by CBNO/MAC, which is in its early stages of development.
Created By: City-Works
Information about Office of Neighborhood Programs in other cities can found at:
Baltimore, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods, http://www.baltimorecity.gov/government/moon/
Tulsa, Neighborhood Resource Guide, http://www.cityoftulsa.org/Community/Neighborhoods/NRGuide.asp
Charleston, Office of Neighborhood Services, http://www.charlestoncity.info/dept/content.aspx?nid=191
Charlotte, Department of Neighborhood Development, http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Neighborhood+Dev/Home.htm
Seattle, Office of Neighborhoods, http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/
More information about Community Engagement can be found at City-Works’ website: http://www.city-works.org
More information about the Citizens Participation Program can be found here: