311 for Cities: Case Studies and Strategies for Serving Diverse Renter Populations

How To, Guide, or Manual National Resource Network April 1, 2016 Community Development + Housing

In October 2015, the Housing and Community Development Department of the city of Oakland, California, submitted a request through the National Resource Network’s 311 for Cities requesting information on the characteristics of the good practices around the country for city agencies to provide services to their renter populations. The request resulted in a “heavy” 311 response.

The attached report was researched, developed and shared with the city by the Network to highlight case studies of how cities around the country are providing renter services and offers recommendations to the request city on strategies to better serve its renter population. This report is not specifically about strengthening tenant protections even though that is an important and related topic. Rather, it provides a set of examples and recommendations about how to treat policies and services as one system with an emphasis on providing clear information and helpful services. How policies are communicated, and what and how services are provided can help minimize confusion, misinformation and frustration. Moreover, the five case studies presented here show that, by carefully designing services from a user-experience perspective and to match policies, whether provided centrally by a city or in direct partnership with local partner providers, good services can efficiently prevent evictions.

311 for Cities launched with the Network in 2014 and – at its peak – was available to more than 600 cities around the country. Local government staff in these communities could submit a question on any challenge they were facing and the Network team would develop a written response highlighting recent research, relevant case studies and best practices. This is one of those responses. The Network no longer offers 311 for Cities, but please contact us at info@nationalresourcenetwork.org if you think we can be of help to your community.

311 for Cities: Case Studies and Strategies for Serving Diverse Renter Populations