Encourage Service-Provider Collaboration

Encourage Collaboration between Service Providers of Different Capacities

Facilitates communication between service providers, like homeless shelters, in different cities to help smaller providers meet new demand.

Service provider in San Francisco (photo by authors)

What's the issue?

Lower income, elderly, immigrant, and homeless populations rely on nonprofit or government providers for a variety of services, including access to meals, shelter, job opportunity coordination, and community events.  Gentrification can interrupt these population's abilities to access and benefit from these services. As prices rise in downtown areas, service providers may no longer be able to afford operating costs, causing them to shut down. Alternatively, if people are displaced out of central areas, service providers may not be able to follow them. These providers experience entrapment, stuck in areas where the popualtions they serve no longer live. Finally, when displaced persons arrive in more peripheral areas, suburban providers may lack the funding and organizational capacity necessary to serve the influx of people in need.

How does collaboration facilitation help?

In implementing this policy, cities across a region would collaborate to require service providers based in the various municipalities to meet with one another once a month with city officials facilitating the meetings. In particular, this policy is designed to facilitate communication and teamwork between downtown service providers, who are used to working with a very high need, and service providers based on the periphery, who can be easily overwhelmed trying to meet increased need. It works by having these two groups exchange ideas that can help suburban providers increase their capacity and there have lower-capacity providers become less strained to cope with increased pressures. By having cities come together to facilitate these meetings, the problem of providing services can be taken on in a regional way, and downtowns, where gentrification begins, can take an active role in helping peripheral communities deal with the consequences of late stage gentrification.

Kent, Washington already helps run the South King County Forum on Homelessness to help local homeless-service providers increase capacity. However, this program only includes communities peripheral to Seattle. Cities like Kent could benefit from expanding this program to include service providers from central cities, such as Seattle, to exchange ideas of how to better accommodate the influx of low-income groups from Seattle. Service providers in Seattle might learn new efficiency methods from smaller providers who need to be more create with their resources to meet demand. 

Where and when is this policy most effective?

This policy is appropriate in suburbs of cities that are in late-stage gentrification where people are being displaced. While collaboration and capacity building is never a bad thing, it is not as necessary when gentrification and displacement are problems concentrated in one municipality rather than spread throughout a region.

Works best for neighborhoods in late-stage gentrification or neighborhoods receiving displaced persons

Works best when neighborhoods are/have...

What are some possible problems and how can we address them?

Service providers in central cities may be reluctant to offer support to suburban, low capacity service providers due to time and resource constraints. However, since these suburban municipalities are under pressure from displaced residents from central cities, it is imperative that central cities recognize the role and influence central cities have in a regional problem. By providing for displaced residents in a regional approach, the issues faced by people seeking these services will be addressed even across municipal boundaries and therefore not allow a regional problem to get worse.