A Report from the Joint Center for Sustainable Communities

Table of Contents

Preface

Redeveloping Brownfields
City of Detroit/Wayne County, Michigan

Connecting People to Jobs Through Transportation
City of St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri

Promoting a Competitive Workforce
City of Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky

Protecting Drinking Water
New York City/Multi-County Partnership, New York

Promoting Smart Growth
Santa Clara County/Multi-County Partnership, California

Supporting the Local Economy by Protecting Biodiversity
City of Charleston/Berkeley County, South Carolina

Helping Youth Succeed
City of Minneapolis/Hennepin County, Minnesota

Using Arts to Revitalize the Core of a Metropolitan Region
City of Seattle/King County, Washington

Reducing Energy Use
City of Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tennessee

Finding Solutions to Homelessness
City of Birmingham/Montgomery County, Alabama


Preface

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties have formed an historic partnership, the Joint Center for Sustainable Communities, to encourage greater city-county cooperation in addressing the many difficult issues that we as local officials face today. It is a partnership that was encouraged by President Bill Clinton when he received the recommendations of the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). The PCSD came to the realization that a "Sustainable America" -- the name of its path-breaking report -- is dependent on the formation of sustainable communities. Our two organizations have accepted the challenge of working with cities and counties across America to build a more livable future, where job growth, environmental stewardship and social equity are truly integrated.

At this important juncture in our evolution, we thought it important to demonstrate that cities and counties are already at work on innovative projects that will lead to more sustainable communities. The examples contained in this report, "Innovative City/County Partnerships," are only a sampling of the creative city/county collaborations taking place throughout America. We hope that this report will provide you with a new look at how we can begin the practical work of forging new alliances for sustainable communities.

We all know that no one level of government, no one sector of our society, can do it all. Only by working together can we make a true difference. Please join us in this exciting new partnership.

Paul Helmke
Mayor of Fort Wayne, IN
President, The U.S. Conference of Mayors

Randy Johnson
Commissioner of Hennepin County, MN
President, National Association of Counties


Redeveloping Brownfields

City of Detroit/Wayne County, Michigan

In the Detroit region, where manufacturing and industry are key components of the economy, the Detroit/Wayne County Roundtable on Sustainable Development marks a major step toward basing the future well-being of southeast Michigan on the concept of sustainable development. The roundtable has identified barriers to brownfield site redevelopment and is recommending solutions to overcome those barriers. Over the past two years, broad collaboration among city, county, and state officials; private-sector stakeholders; environmental groups; and the public has already resulted in several major redevelopment projects that might not have been possible without the focus and collaboration that the roundtable facilitated.

In 1994 the immediate goal for Wayne County and the City of Detroit was simple: to convene a regional summit on sustainable development that would examine international, national, state, and regional efforts to integrate environmental and economic growth concerns. The summit clarified that city and county leaders have a long-range task even more formidable than first imagined, a task that requires broad involvement of the public to develop workable, coordinated approaches to the environmental and economic issues confronting older urban areas.

The summit led to the formation of the City of Detroit/Wayne County Roundtable on Sustainable Development, a partnership between two governments that historically did not always work in tandem.

Working Together

The roundtable adopted a series of operating principles (see list in box) and designated a ten-member board of directors, co-chaired by the designees of the mayor and the Wayne County executive. Forty representatives from Detroit and Wayne County neighborhood organizations, environmental groups, lending institutions, businesses, governments, charitable and religious groups, and others make up the roundtable membership.

The first full meeting of the roundtable in October 1995 helped define the historical barriers to redevelopment: lack of education, information, and training; regulatory constraints; economic development; and concerns for health, safety, and the environment. Roundtable members refined these issues into recommendations for further study by three working groups, which would examine ways to market brownfield sites, identify institutional and legal barriers to redevelopment, and provide stakeholders with information.

Before the roundtable was ever formed, stakeholders recognized that impediments to brownfield redevelopment existed. As the roundtable made progress, however, participants began to understand the issues from their colleagues' perspectives and to gain greater respect for each other's views. Although these interactions sometimes led to frustration, cooperation prevailed. The roundtable process has given all members a forum in which to facilitate consensus building and agree on solutions to problems that stakeholders have in common.

Making Progress

Roundtable members continue to collaborate on many activities. For example, the Clean-Up Committee is reviewing the effectiveness of the new Michigan Environmental Act (part 201) and is looking at additional opportunities for streamlining the regulatory process. One of the co-chairs is a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality staff member with first-hand knowledge of the state program, thereby assuring that committee recommendations are responsive to the issues faced by many people grappling with redevelopment.

The Incentives and Disincentives Committee continues to work on the tax reversion and condemnation process, which has been linked to long delays in assembling property for redevelopment projects. While condemnation has been used successfully in major projects, it has not typically been used in smaller projects due largely to issues of cost and time. The goal is to identify short- and long-term ways to reduce the cost and time required while protecting the rights of property owners.

Other committees include a streamlining government committee, which is reviewing existing and proposed efforts to assist potential developers interested in redevelopment in older urban areas; a marketing committee, which is developing a comprehensive strategy for Southwest Detroit; and a stakeholders committee, which is working to define a meaningful way for citizens to participate in the decision making that affects their neighborhoods.

So far, considerable progress has been made. The city and county have launched numerous major redevelopment projects as a result of the partnership, including a stadium complex, an airport expansion, and a casino. At the same time, major industries have stepped up to the plate with new automotive manufacturing facilities and corporate operations in downtown Detroit.

The present task is to help assure that smaller development fills in behind these major projects in a way that protects the environment and is sustainable over the long run. This balance of small and large development holds the key to measured and continued economic growth for Detroit and Wayne County as the region moves into the 21st century.

Six Operating Principles for a City/County Roundtable

Diversify membership: Assure that the roundtable membership is inclusive, representing community groups, business organizations, economic and environmental interests, universities, and regulatory agencies.

Promote the concept of sustainability: Recognize that in the long run, the economy and the environment are interdependent and that today's needs must be met without sacrificing those of the future.

Build consensus: Establish the roundtable process on the precept that sharing information, selecting common goals and objectives, and jointly supporting projects build the trust that is essential in creating new coalitions.

Support existing efforts: Enhance rather than duplicate the efforts of existing public and private organizations working on economic development and environmental quality.

Combine resources: Use the roundtable's diverse stakeholders to collectively identify and tap resources to fund activities or projects that are beyond the scope or means of any single public or private organization.

Set up regional cooperation and communication: Exchange information on successes and failures with other communities in the region.

For further information, contact:

Sarah Lile
Director, City of Detroit Department of Environmental Affairs
313-237-3092

Jim Murray
Director, Wayne County Department of the Environment
313-224-3631


Connecting People to Jobs Through Transportation

City of St. Louis/St. Louis County, Missouri

"Transportation Redefined," an ambitious 20-year plan in the St. Louis area, focuses on connecting people to job opportunities through better transportation. City and county governments, working through the region's metropolitan planning organization, are sharing ideas and resources with private organizations as diverse as the Urban League, American Red Cross, and St. Louis Community College, to improve transportation services for area job-seekers and show that transportation planning is a critical part of a coordinated, cross-cutting strategy for economic and community development.

In 1994 the St. Louis region launched a series of strategic activities designed to better align transportation with social and economic goals. The plan formally elevates to the transportation agenda several key issues once outside the purview of transportation planning: access to opportunity for low-income residents, welfare-to-work, and sustainable development.

To understand and address these issues, local and state governments came together through the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council, which is the region's metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and council of governments, to expand the base of public and private sector partners committed to solving complex local problems in a regional context. A number of new partnerships have been formed, as described below.

St. Louis Bridges to Work is a four-year program designed to test the effectiveness of coordinated job placement, transportation, and career advancement services in linking inner city job-seekers with employment opportunities in fast-growing suburban areas. St. Louis is one of five Bridges to Work research and demonstration projects funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in cooperation with Public/Private Ventures. The St. Louis initiative was designed by representatives of both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, along with the Urban League and the Missouri Department of Social Services. Job-ready individuals, referred from city and county programs, receive assistance in obtaining employment in the job-rich Chesterfield Valley area of St. Louis County. During the first 18 months of employment, participants can take public transit to a designated station on the MetroLink light rail system and board vans operated by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross for the rest of their journey to work.

Transportation Corridor for Economic Renewal (TRACER) is a new partnership between the St. Louis region and the State of Missouri that seeks to change the investment climate in the region's urban core. A city/county/state steering committee is considering strategies to re-energize neighborhoods and business districts along the MetroLink light rail corridor, which cuts through the city center and links three major political jurisdictions (St. Louis County, City of St. Louis, and City of East St. Louis). Although rich in jobs (240,000 in 1997), the corridor has suffered concentrated losses of population and employment, as well as environmental problems.

To jump-start the process, the Missouri Departments of Economic Development and Social Services have invested funds in a Center for Mobility to Work to link young adults with jobs in the corridor through short-term work readiness training, job-search assistance, transit subsidies, and extensive post-placement follow-up. St. Louis Community College will implement the project in 1998 under contract with East-West Gateway, with a first-year target of 200 placements. The college has established an alliance with community-based organizations to recruit job-seekers from a targeted city-county area.

Three Principles for Success

St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon, in a May 1997 address at the White House Briefing on Welfare to Work, outlined three principles that have guided St. Louis's approach. The first, he said, is partnership. Building relationships among state and local governments and the private sector has supplied the critical infrastructure needed to get projects under way. Many initiatives have used a "co-investment approach," coordinating investments in innovative ways that test partners' collective ability to achieve better results through more efficient use of resources. The second principle is customer-focused process. This involves identifying all those served by a project, distinguishing their different needs and involving them purposefully in the planning process. The third principle is sustainability. Mayor Harmon said in this sense, sustainability means more than the relationship between the built and natural environment. It is about moving families from a state of uncertainty about the future to a situation where they can rely on opportunities in the region and have the resources in place to take advantage of those opportunities.

The Center for Mobility to Work is part of an eight-year St. Louis Regional Jobs Initiative, one of six similar regional efforts funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The aim of the initiative is to change how the regional labor market works by forging stronger links among economic development, workforce development, community interests, business, human services, and transportation systems. The initiative, administered by East-West Gateway, is governed by a 13-member Investors' Group chaired by Missouri Treasurer Bob Holden. The chairman of the East-West Gateway Board of Directors represents the region's local governments and two state agencies. The initiative includes three other innovative projects for 1997-1998:

A business services job training and placement program for welfare recipients designed cooperatively by the Missouri Department of Social Services, the Monsanto Corporation, and Adecco Personnel Services. Clerical skills training has been tailored to the needs of Adecco and Monsanto, and graduates of the program will be placed in positions with these firms. Van service is provided to and from the training center.

A Center for Health Careers, which serves the entry-level employment needs of the Sisters of St. Mary Health Care System (SSM). Individuals currently receiving welfare benefits who have an interest in the health care profession will receive counseling and case management service, work readiness and skill training, and child care as they train for a job at one of the four St. Louis area hospitals. A weekly transportation stipend for transit or automobile travel will be provided during and after training.

A cooperative effort with the Carpenters' Union to recruit and prepare young African Americans for construction trades. Individuals are trained and mentored by an African-American journeyman, and placed with contractors through the Joint Area Construction Trades Council. Transportation stipends are provided during training.

"Transportation Redefined" has demonstrated the key role that transportation planning can play in spurring economic opportunities and creating a better St. Louis. As the benefits of these nascent initiatives become more and more obvious, the city and county hope to use the lessons learned to create even more opportunities.

For further information, contact:

Chester Hines, Special Assistant to the Mayor
City of St. Louis
314-622-4068

Judith Parker, Director of Human Services
St. Louis County
314-889-3485


Promoting A Competitive Workforce

Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky

The Louisville and Jefferson County Job Training Partnership Agency is a one-of-a-kind joint agency providing employment and job-training services to city and county residents alike. The city and county are one service delivery area under the Job Training Partnership Act, sharing resources to enhance the skills of area workers and productivity of area employers through world-class training, education, and career opportunities for the economically disadvantaged and dislocated workers. The agency has also become a national model for developing successful school-to-work systems to bridge the worlds of education and employment for all high school students through hands-on experiences with employers.

Elected officials in the Louisville, Kentucky area are determined to base the region's quality of life on a strong economic foundation, with a well-trained workforce. Regional demographic trends and input from area businesses indicate that, as in the rest of the country, the workers and jobs in the Louisville region during the next century will be very different from those of this century. Lower birthrates and extended years of employment will result in an aging workforce, while the best jobs available will require new skills, especially in information sciences. Local businesses have called on Louisville and Jefferson County schools to better prepare students for the careers of the future.

The Louisville Area Workforce Development Council was formed by the area's leaders in business, government, education, and labor to ensure that citizens of the greater Louisville area have the skills needed to take advantage of economic opportunities. The council oversees a variety of programs, including the work of the Louisville and Jefferson County Job Training Partnership Agency, a federal/state/local partnership that targets low-income youth and adults, dislocated (laid-off) workers, and unemployed or underemployed individuals. The agency has seven goals:

Articulate a vision for an effective education, training, and career opportunities system and provide strategic leadership to implement the vision.

Engage the public in making the connection between high skills and economic success, and encourage life-long learning.

Communicate employer needs to educators, and involve employers as partners in shaping the education and training system to expand its impact and credibility.

Ensure quality of workforce initiatives and establish standards to allocate resources.

Link workforce development initiatives with economic development efforts.

Invest in projects that promote structural change in workforce development.

Engage in state and national public policy formation to ensure that the region's workforce development needs are met.

The agency receives funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet, City of Louisville, Housing Authority of Louisville, Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children, and Jefferson County Fiscal Court.

The council has clearly delineated roles for its partners. For example, the City of Louisville serves as the council's fiscal agent. The council sees its roles as setting major policies, selecting and funding service providers, and overseeing programs in the service delivery area.

Activities of the Louisville and Jefferson County
Job Training Partnership Agency

The Louisville and Jefferson County Job Training Partnership Agency is committed to recruiting and retaining talented individuals in high growth/high demand occupations in the area. The agency promotes workforce advancement through a full spectrum of services for job seekers and employers:

Higher Education Reform: A project to facilitate a community-wide response to the Kentucky Post-secondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, tailored to meet workforce training, academic, and lifelong learning needs in the Louisville area.

Career Resources, Inc.: One-stop career centers that link employers and prospective employees in the region through state-of-the-art technology, and deliver a continuum of services to job seekers and employers, including assessment, career counseling, resource laboratories, job referrals, recruiting, pre-screening and initial interviews.

School-to-Career: Partnerships among local business, labor, government, and community leadership to introduce all students to career possibilities and to provide a successful transition to work, higher education, or the military.

Welfare-to-Work: A series of programs to assist the transition of individuals into the workforce by providing work skills, training opportunities, job coaching and job referrals. This program component also provides assistance to individuals with personal needs such as childcare and transportation.

Louisville Education & Employment Partnership (L.E.E.P.): A program that serves low-income youth in grades nine through twelve who are at risk of academic failure by providing academic upgrade assistance, part-time jobs after school, and mentoring relationships. Program evaluations show that students who have had a mentor are more likely to stay in school and get a good job.

Benchmark Communities/Jobs for the Future: A national model to develop successful systems that bridge the worlds of education and employment for all high school students through hands-on experiences with employers.

Aiming High

The agency includes among its expected outcomes the placement of job-ready individuals in employment, with an hourly wage of at least $8.00 for adults and dislocated workers, and job retention for at least 90 days. One key outcome is the successful establishment of a career center network throughout the greater Louisville area, using federal and state funds.

In partnership with the Labor Market 13 School-to-Work Council, the agency aims to create a successful school-to-work system for the greater Louisville area that will help teens finish high school and acquire the skills and maturity they need to compete for the best jobs, attend college, or receive post-secondary training in their chosen field. Summer jobs and education for low-income youth are also a focus of the agency's activities.

For further information, contact:
Pam Anderson, Executive Director
Private Industry Council of Louisville and Jefferson County, Inc.
502-574-2500


Protecting Drinking Water

New York City/Multi-County Partnership, New York

The City of New York, which operates as a city/county consolidated government, and the counties of Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, Putnam, and Westchester in New York State, have signed a watershed protection agreement that will protect the source of New York's drinking water supply. The partnership also includes the agricultural community, watershed municipalities, and the state and federal governments. Benefits to the city include a filtration waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saving billions of dollars in capital costs. Upstate communities benefit from higher property values resulting from environmentally sound agricultural practices and planned sustainable development.

A historic agreement among the City of New York, 7 upstate New York counties, and 72 municipalities will assure a continuous supply of safe, unfiltered water for 9 million New Yorkers while strengthening rural economies in the state. The 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement unites the watershed communities, New York City, New York State, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), environmentalists, and farmers in support of an enhanced watershed protection program for the New York City drinking water supply. The source of this water, world-renowned for its high quality and excellent taste, is a network of 19 reservoirs in 1,969 square miles extending 125 miles north and west of New York City and encompassing two different watersheds. These watersheds supply 8 million city residents and 1 million more people in Westchester, Putnam, Orange, and Ulster Counties with 1.4 billion gallons of drinking water daily.

The agreement, based on voluntary partnerships and locally based watershed protection programs, is designed to ensure that New Yorkers will enjoy high quality water into the 21st century. The program incorporates a multi-jurisdictional strategy to protect and improve water quality for decades to come. The program has already begun and, if it continues to be implemented successfully, New York City expects to receive a long-term waiver of the federal requirement that it filter water from its Catskill/Delaware supply.

According to New York Governor George Pataki, "The agreement not only protects drinking water, it will allow for economic growth in the watershed communities. But this agreement is more than clean water and economic growth; it is a new spirit of partnership between New York City and the watershed communities that will only help enhance New York's economic renewal and national leadership in environmental protection."

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani added, "This marks the beginning of a long partnership between the city and the watershed communities, a partnership that has great benefits for both the consumers of the water and the residents of the watersheds."

Multi-Faceted Protection

The agreement consists of four separate watershed protection programs:

Land Acquisition Program
The Land Acquisition Program will enable the city to acquire environmentally sensitive, undeveloped land at fair market value from willing sellers. The city will continue to pay property taxes and conduct a community review process for any property under consideration. Because the parties recognize that any land acquisition program must provide reasonable opportunities for growth in and around existing population centers, the agreement allows some towns and villages to exempt certain areas from solicitation under the program.

The city is committed to spending up to $310 million on land acquisition in the watersheds through outright purchase or conservation easement. In October 1997, the city acquired the first parcels of upstate land under the agreement. The city currently has purchase contracts or options to purchase over 8,000 acres from 80 landowners across the watershed.

Watershed Regulatory Program
Under the agreement, new regulations were negotiated among counties and communities, the state, the city, EPA, and environmental groups to control pollution within the watersheds. The major thrust of these regulations is to ensure that new projects are designed and constructed in ways that protect water quality in the watersheds of the city's reservoirs. Water quality protection is to be achieved through a public-private partnership between New York City and the Watershed Agricultural Council.

Watershed Protection and Partnership Program
Agriculture is one of the major land uses in New York City's upstate watershed. Dairy and livestock farming in particular present one of the greatest challenges to the city's comprehensive watershed management program. While non-point agricultural pollution is a problem that must be solved, farmers are often opposed to traditional regulatory programs. The challenge is reconciling the public health and environmental resource protection interests of a large and distant city with the farm community's desire to maintain a fragile agricultural way of life in the watershed region. This challenge is further compounded by the standards and requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the Surface Water Treatment Rule, and EPA's Filtration Avoidance for New York City.

In response to farmers' concerns about the potential economic impact of proposed revisions to New York City's watershed rules and regulations in 1990, the city put aside its purely regulatory approach and entered into a partnership with the watershed farm community to carry out a locally developed and administered voluntary Watershed Agricultural Program, the first upstate/downstate collaboration to link water quality protection goals with an economic objective: preservation of the watershed's farming economy. The city committed $3.9 million over the first two years to refine and demonstrate an environmentally sound "whole farm planning" approach on ten pilot farms. These farms will be used to market the program to all willing farmers in the watershed over the next five years, a project for which the city has committed $35.2 million. The farmer-led Watershed Agricultural Council had already exceeded its goal of 85 percent farm participation by fall 1997. Because the program has been so successful, New York City will not seek further regulation of the agricultural watershed.

Watershed Agreement Payment Program
As part of its financial commitment to the agreement, the city pays for upgrades to the wastewater treatment systems owned and operated by upstate municipalities and private operators. The agreement also provides for "good neighbor" payments, designated for public well-being, which go directly to the involved municipalities as payment for joining the agreement. As of April 1997, the city had delivered over $11 million to the Coalition of Watershed Towns and over $2.8 million to the Catskill Watershed Corporation.

Implementation of the Watershed Program

Several components of the watershed protection program that are funded by the City of New York are already under way (see box). When the agreement took effect, EPA issued a five-year Filtration Avoidance Determination. A review of the city's compliance with that determination will be completed by May 31, 2000. Commissioner Joel A. Miele, Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection said, "I am confident that the city will meet the provisions of the determination."

The Watershed Protection Agreement reflects the shared conviction of city and county representatives that voluntary partnerships can protect water quality as effectively as regulatory restrictions. According to Miele, "Most components of the watershed protection program are already being implemented. Cooperation among all the parties to the agreement has been outstanding."

Components of the Watershed Protection Agreement
That Are Currently Under Way

Upgrading of the nine city-owned upstate sewage treatment plants (cost: approximately $232 million);

Rehabilitation and upgrading of city-owned dams and water supply facilities in the watershed (cost: approximately $240 million);

Implementation of the Watershed Agricultural Program (cost: $35.2 million);

Construction or upgrading of public and privately owned wastewater infrastructure, including failing septic systems (cost: approximately $300 million);

Acquisition of hydrologically sensitive lands in high priority areas near reservoirs, streams and wetlands (cost: from $260 million to $310 million);

Establishment of the Catskill Fund for the Future, an economic development bank to support responsible, environmentally sensitive projects in the watershed (cost $75 million);

Extensive review of proposed developments and other projects to ensure compliance with watershed regulations and standards and the protection of water quality;

Monitoring of water quality in streams, reservoirs, and the distribution system;

Formation of the Watershed Protection and Partnership Council; and

Establishment of Sportsmen's Advisory Councils to review and recommend possible public recreational uses of city-owned lands in the watershed.

For further information, contact:
Joel A. Miele, Sr., P.E., Commissioner
New York City Department of Environmental Protection
718-595-6565


Promoting Smart Growth

Santa Clara County/Multi-City Partnership California

"Once and for all, it's time to draw the line...where San Jose's pavement ends and where the greenbelt and hillsides begin." So proclaimed City of San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer upon initiating a proposal in 1995 for a long-term Urban Growth Boundary, or UGB, for the City of San Jose. The mayor's actions served as a capstone to two decades of evolution in urban growth management policy for the cities and the County of Santa Clara, California.

Santa Clara County -- better known as "Silicon Valley" -- is widely recognized as a worldwide leader in high technology. It is also, however, a national leader in voluntary city/county cooperation on urban growth management.

The history of this cooperation stretches back more than two decades to a landmark agreement between city and county leaders concerning their relative roles and responsibilities for planning and providing services to urban development. This continuing agreement on countywide urban development policies is based on two core principles:

Urban development should occur only within cities (i.e., on lands annexed to cities); and

Cities should plan for orderly, efficient urban development and should allow urban development only within explicit, formally adopted urban service area (USA) boundaries.

The agreements and policies forged in the 1970s helped put an end to annexation wars and competition among cities, and stemmed urban sprawl that extended urban infrastructure and services through prime farmlands to serve scattered, outlying subdivisions. This inefficient practice also made farming of intervening lands more difficult. The cooperative growth management policies, now the foundation of each jurisdiction's General Plan, have provided each city with the stability needed to meet new challenges and cooperate on regional issues that transcend city boundaries.

Defining Areas for Short-Term Growth

The most significant tool for implementing countywide urban development policies has been the delineation and adoption of formal urban service area (USA) boundaries by each of the county's 15 cities. Essentially, these areas include the city's existing urban area plus additional lands appropriate for urban development for which the city is willing and able to provide urban services and facilities within the next five years.

USAs are not permanent; they can be changed annually. Approval for the proposed amendments must be obtained from the county's Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), a state-mandated local commission with authority over such things as annexations to cities and incorporation of new cities. LAFCO's membership is composed of two local city members, two members of the county board of supervisors, and a fifth member from the public at large, appointed by the other four.

The county has taken several key actions to reinforce policies ensuring that urban development takes place only within cities' urban service areas. Foremost among these actions has been to designate in the county's general plan that all lands outside USAs may be devoted only to nonurban uses or very low densities of development. The county encourages annexation of residual unincorporated lands within city urban service areas, and defers to the cities' general plans to determine allowable uses if annexation is not currently possible.

Benefits of Urban Service Areas

Adoption of explicit urban service area boundaries has benefited Santa Clara County's cities and their residents in a number of ways:

It has minimized municipal infrastructure and service costs by directing development toward areas already served by existing infrastructure and services.

It has given cities greater control over the timing and location of urban development.

It has revitalized existing urban areas by encouraging in-fill and private redevelopment of vacant and underused lands within each urban area.

It has directed development away from hazardous sites, environmentally sensitive areas, and important open spaces.

To supplement the existing short-term (five-year) urban service boundaries, Santa Clara County and its cities have been actively working to delineate long-term urban growth boundaries (UGBs) over the next 20 years. In addition to the benefits provided by short-term USAs, long-term UGBs provide the additional benefits of:

Reserving lands needed for future urban development;

Reinforcing city policies to pursue "compact development;" and

Providing farmers and other rural land owners with a more realistic basis for assessing future land use options.

Success in Voluntary Joint Planning

Over the past several years, the county and eight of its cities have worked cooperatively on long-term UGB projects. To date, these have resulted in final adoption of UGBs by five cities. San Jose, the county's largest city, adopted a long-term UGB in 1997 to implement its Greenline Initiative. However, the adoption was overturned by a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of its environmental assessment process. The city is currently preparing an environmental impact report in anticipation of bringing its UGB back for readoption. When it does, given its population of nearly 900,000, San Jose is likely to become the largest city in the United States with a long-term urban growth boundary.

Through pioneering efforts to delineate urban service area boundaries and, more recently, long-term urban growth boundaries, Santa Clara County and its cities are demonstrating that cities and counties can work cooperatively and voluntarily on critical issues, such as growth management, in pursuit of sustainable urban communities.

For further information, contact:
Bill Shue
Santa Clara County Department of Planning and Development
408-299-2521, extension 231


Supporting the Local Economy By Protecting Biodiversity

City of Charleston/Berkeley County, South Carolina

In October 1995, local elected officials initiated a regional partnership that brought together more than 75 residents and 40 representatives from local government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to discuss their vision for the future of the area. The group emphasized the need to preserve open space and scenery, wildlife, and the quiet, close-knit characteristics of the community. The result is the Cooper River Corridor Advisory Commission and a comprehensive plan to "manage development in order to maintain the rural character, natural beauty and environmental integrity of the area."

The Cooper River corridor in coastal South Carolina has been a tremendous source of biological diversity and economic activity along the Atlantic Coast for thousands of years, and today it possesses a unique blend of significant natural, cultural, and economic resources. With dozens of historic and prehistoric sites, the area boasts three National Historic Landmarks and 13 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. The area in and around the Cooper River provides habitat for hundreds of plants and animals, including at least 40 rare, threatened, and endangered species. Nearly 50,000 acres, one-sixth of the corridor's four watersheds, are wetlands. At the same time, the river supplies freshwater and port facilities to numerous major industrial sites.

Widespread ecological destruction caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, increasing development pressures, and declines in populations of native plant and wildlife species along the river have underscored the need for a unified effort to protect the area's resources. In particular, the Charleston area's rapidly growing economy and population are beginning to affect a region of the Cooper River in Berkeley County that was previously relatively undeveloped. Berkeley County's 1990 population is expected to nearly double by the year 2010, prompting an estimated need for more than 44,000 new housing units. Industrial development is also booming in the county, including expansion of existing industrial sites and the creation of new ones.

The Cooper River Corridor Project, founded in 1995, is a partnership of government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and citizens that works to enhance wildlife habitat and achieve sustainable development along the Cooper River. The project is directed by a local advisory commission and coordinated by a local office of the Wildlife Habitat Council, an international nonprofit organization.

Involving the Community

In fall 1995, the Cooper River Corridor Project initiated a community-based planning process to develop a common vision and recommendations for the protection and enhancement of the river's natural, cultural, and economic resources. More than 40 organizations and 75 residents of communities along the Cooper River corridor participated initially. Over 200 individuals eventually became involved in the project, attending meetings, providing data, or offering support during the 14-month planning process.

The result is the Community-Based Planning Initiative, a blueprint for the future of the area. Participants agreed on a vision of commercial, industrial, and residential development that will be compatible with the area's natural and cultural heritage. The goal is to preserve historic and natural resources for future generations; to ensure greater access to parks, recreation areas, and other public amenities; and to increase opportunities and improve quality of life through community-based education and well-managed economic development.

Berkeley County Supervisors and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., have been major supporters of the project and were integral to the creation of the Cooper River Advisory Commission, which includes appointed local government representatives. At the beginning of the initiative, their leadership provided enormous encouragement to the project steering committee to formalize itself as the Cooper River Advisory Commission. The Charleston City Council passed a resolution officially recognizing the advisory commission. Throughout the process, numerous government agencies and nonprofit organizations have been closely involved in the project.

Creating a Blueprint for the Future

The Community-Based Planning Initiative Report summarizes the planning process, describes the river's resources, and outlines the goals and recommendations that were developed by the project's three working groups. Together, the three working groups (Land Use Planning, Natural and Historical Conservation, and Community Development) finalized more than 110 recommendations to achieve the community's vision.

With regard to land use planning, the advisory commission has recommended that the county and city update their land use plans to incorporate regulations that will safeguard the rural character, natural beauty, and environmental integrity of the area. The commission also recommended a special zoning (overlay) district within the Cooper River corridor boundary to facilitate implementation of regulations. Priority land use ordinances that should be established include landscape buffers along roadsides; zoning that clusters developments and provides open space preserves; and a review process for site design, including architecture and landscaping.

The Community Development working group focused on ways to provide meaningful and rewarding employment for people in the community and ways to build community integrity. The report suggests more concrete ways for residents, landowners, corporations, and government agencies to establish better relationships, closer communication, and sustained community involvement in decision making.

Finally, the Natural and Historical Conservation working group recommended four tools to be used by the project and other conservation organizations: education, research, protection, and policy. The group sees five major priorities in this area:

Educating community members and decision-makers about the value of open space and ways to protect it.

Disseminating information on best-management practices and habitat management to land owners along the Cooper River.

Identifying areas of special significance that should be protected.

Establishing conservation easements on key properties along the river.

Working with local governments to develop programs that protect open space, critical habitat, historic structures, and the rural character of the area.

The Community-Based Planning Initiative report is not the end of the process. While much has been accomplished, the true measure of success will depend on the implementation of the report's recommendations through continued community leadership, wise planning, and cooperative action. Working in cooperation with local governments, community leaders, and conservation organizations, the Cooper River Corridor Advisory Commission has taken the lead to begin implementing the project. Currently, both the City of Charleston and Berkeley County are considering the project's recommendations that require local government action. Although neither government entity has promised to implement the project's recommendations fully, officials intend to incorporate suggestions into many of their future land use plans, zoning regulations, and economic development initiatives. To this end, city and county officials have been in close communication and are committed to establishing compatible policies and programs for the Cooper River Corridor Project. For more information, contact:

For further information, contact:

Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
Mayor of Charleston
803-577-4727

Al Kennedy
Berkeley County Public Information Officer
803-719-4013


Helping Youth Succeed

City of Minneapolis/Hennepin County, Minnesota

The Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB) is an intergovernmental, collaborative body working to build a shared vision for Minneapolis/Hennepin County children and youth. Since its inception, the YCB has successfully implemented countless intergovernmental policy directives, and has administered and delivered numerous programs and grants to encourage the healthy development and functioning of youth. The YCB works to dissolve bureaucratic barriers and inefficiencies so that relevant groups and organizations in the community can strengthen the region's child and family support network without wasting resources on duplication and lack of coordination.

In 1985, the City of Minneapolis conceived of a body to prioritize the needs of the region's children and youth, and to provide common direction and coordination for public policy initiatives and community services. Until then, elected officials and community leaders had difficulty in effectively addressing the issues children and families face. The greatest of these challenges include increasing rates of poverty, infant mortality, violence, and sagging educational attainment.

The resulting body, the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB), is committed to enhancing and promoting the healthy, comprehensive development of children and youth through collaborative action. The YCB first convened hundreds of people representing diverse communities and organizations to create a 20-year vision for children and families in Minneapolis. The result of that effort is Cities Children 2007, a plan still being followed more than 10 years later.

Wide-Ranging Collaboration

Today, YCB's board includes the mayor; Hennepin County commissioners; city council members; Minneapolis Public School Board members; a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner; the chief judge of Hennepin County District Court, Juvenile Division; and chairpersons of the Minneapolis Delegations to the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota State Senate.

With more than a decade of experience, the collaboration's partners have learned that success with this approach requires energetic participation from leaders of a broad range of governmental bodies and schools. Each participating group must commit financial resources and be open to changing the way its resources are allocated and its programs are delivered.

Diverse Services

A wide array of YCB-sponsored programs have been developed to address the social, health, and educational needs of Minneapolis' youth.

Way To Grow prepares young children for school and empowers families to use community services and support systems. Family resource workers connect families to prevention and early intervention services. Public health nurses give health assessments for pregnant women and health assistance to family resource workers.

Neighborhood Early Learning Centers provide services in accessible locations. By participating in a community planning process, residents determine what services will be offered and choose a lead agency to coordinate services.

The Minneapolis Redesign works in partnership with the Minneapolis Public Schools, Hennepin County, and the Forum for Nonprofit Leadership to establish services for children and their families at schools, such as health and dental care, social services, and adult basic education.

"What's Up?" is a hotline that provides youth with information about activities and employment opportunities. The YCB also uses information requests from the hotline to guide program planning.

Phat Summer opens neighborhood parks and schools during summer evenings for youth recreation and educational activities.

Achievements

Recent accomplishments include the following:

5,744 families enrolled in Way to Grow programs during 1996.

3,000 young people made more than 20,000 visits to neighborhood parks and recreation facilities during summer evening hours since the inception of the Phat Summer program.

21,000 callers phoned the "What's Up?" line between June 1996 and November 1997 for information about youth activities and employment opportunities.

75 high school students participated in a Day of Listening, an annual event that brings young people and community leaders together for a day of mutual listening and learning.

5,000 young people participated in Dancin' in the Streets, a celebration for Minneapolis youth that took place in 1995.

These programs are making Minneapolis and surrounding areas a family-friendly environment that knows its children and protects, teaches, and nurtures them. Outcome-based evaluations are conducted for each of the collaboration's initiatives. One of the YCB's goals is to have 80 percent of area youth involved in at least one youth development activity before the end of the century, an increase from the 1995 level of 50 percent.

Goals of the Youth Coordinating Board

Improve the ability of public agencies to promote the health, safety, education, and development of the community's children and youth.

Facilitate cooperation among youth-serving agencies and local government bodies.

Identify and remedy conditions that hinder or prevent the community's youth from becoming healthy, productive members of society.

Communicate accurate and timely information about issues facing children, youth, and families.

For further information, contact:
Colleen Moriarity, Executive Director
Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board
612-673-2060


Using Arts To Revitalize the Core of a Metropolitan Region

City of Seattle/King County, Washington

Innovative public-private partnerships and shared resources have driven the success of Seattle's arts-oriented economic development. Within the past decade, the City of Seattle, King County, the State of Washington, and the private sector have invested a total of $240 million in flagship cultural facilities at the heart of the city. At capacity, these facilities draw 10,000 people per night into the downtown, filling restaurants, shops, parking facilities, and most importantly, ensuring a bustling and safe downtown well into the night. The downtown also hosts a number of small and start-up arts groups and commercial art galleries. Collectively, the arts in Seattle generated more than $150 million annually in economic activity, and created 8,200 full- and part-time jobs in 1992.

Seattle has garnered the title as one of the country's most livable cities. Mountains, water, and a near-mythical relationship with coffee accent the popularity of the city, but the heart of its success is an extraordinarily vital downtown.

Ten years ago, however, downtown business activity was stagnant, with a 17 percent vacancy rate in 18 million square feet of office space. Political and business leaders both looked to the arts as a catalyst for sustained growth, with investment in the city's cultural facilities as a central strategy to economic redevelopment.

The results of this revitalization of downtown have been remarkable:

Businesses have built an additional 11 million square feet of new office space, with another 4 million square feet under construction.

The city's 29 million square feet of office space is now 95 percent occupied.

Downtown is now home to 2,300 retail businesses, with hundreds more on the way.

Twenty-two percent of the city's general fund revenues come from the downtown retail core.

More than 15,000 people make downtown their home with another 1,000 residences -- ranging from luxury condominiums to affordable housing units -- currently under construction.

Shared Support, Shared Benefits

With a population of nearly 1.6 million residents in a 2,128-square-mile radius, King County, which encompasses Seattle, is the nation's twelfth most populous city. County officials have recognized that improvements in the county's urban core serve the entire region, and have directed $7 million towards downtown arts facilities. Much of this investment has been paid for from a portion of county hotel/motel tax revenues. Although the percentage of this tax directed towards cultural activities is relatively small, the revenues have allowed the county to target and support key cultural facilities. Use of these taxes for the arts has produced a strong and synergistic relationship, since construction of new arts facilities promotes the tourism on which this revenue stream relies.

Through a variety of mechanisms, the City of Seattle has backed its commitment to enhance the vitality of its downtown through the arts. With contributions of cash and in the transfer of development rights, the city has dedicated approximately $45 million to construction of cultural facilities downtown.

The State of Washington, working on an initiative by the Corporate Council for the Arts and The Boeing Company, created the Building for the Arts program in 1991. This prestigious program provides state funds for up to 15 percent of the total capital cost for selected arts facilities. Over four legislative budget cycles, Building for the Arts has authorized nearly $30 million for about 60 arts projects around the state, including $10 million for three arts facilities in the heart of Seattle's downtown.

The corporate community has provided pivotal support, supporting an average of 15 to 25 percent of the overall cost of construction for these facilities. The corporate sector also has provided leadership, with CEOs of some of the region's largest companies heading the drives for new facilities.

As a result of these investments, five major new or renovated facilities now form downtown Seattle's cultural nucleus: the Seattle Art Museum, the Fifth Avenue Theatre, Paramount Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, and the new Benaroya Concert Hall, slated for completion in autumn 1998.

How the Partnership Is Paying Off

Already a prominent feature in the downtown landscape, Benaroya Hall's construction budget of $109 million exemplifies strong public-private partnership. The City of Seattle is the project's largest single supporter, with commitments of $41 million. The state has provided $8 million through the Building for the Arts program; the county has provided $3 million; and corporations, foundations and individuals are making up the balance.

Construction expenditures for the hall already are creating business sales of $180 million in the state, as well as 1,700 direct and indirect jobs. Once it opens, expenditures by the hall and its half-million annual patrons will yield $46 million in business sales statewide.

Kreielsheimer Place, the new downtown home of A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), was completed in 1996. The project combines the renovation of a historic landmark, creation of three new theatre spaces, and construction of 44 units of affordable housing. In this innovative project, ACT collaborated from the start with Housing Resource Group-Seattle to provide affordable housing, which is in high demand in the city. About 10 percent of the project's $30 million price tag went to construction of apartment units. This combined use made the project very attractive to both public and private funders.

The State of Washington, the building's previous owner, launched the project by transferring the site and structure to ACT. With further strong support from the corporate and public sectors, the building has become a downtown destination, attracting audiences of 90,000 annually. Its success in combining affordable housing, theatres, and historic preservation recently earned the facility an Urban Landmark Institute award.

As Seattle and King County become increasingly important as an international crossroads midway between Asia and Europe, the vitality of its downtown is one of its greatest assets. Both public and private leadership and broad-based community support have recognized the essential role the arts play in forming the center of a world-class city. Seattle Mayor Norm Rice recently described it this way: "Each of these projects is an important element in our plans to create a downtown that people of all ages -- from boomers, to X-ers, to our seniors -- will find exciting, making them want to visit downtown during the evening as well as the day." With the cultural infrastructure the city has in place, downtown Seattle enters the next century as a powerful magnet for commerce and residence.

For further information, contact:

Wendy Ceccherelli, Director
Seattle Arts Commission
206-684-7171

Leonard Garfield, Director
King County Arts Commission
206-296-8677

Peter Donnelly, President
Corporate Council for the Arts
206-281-9050


Reducing Energy Use

City of Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tennessee

The City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County created the public-private Electric Bus Initiative as part of their overall local sustainability strategy. Since 1992, 18 electric buses have gone into service on two downtown shuttle routes, a local nonprofit organization has been launched to promote research and provide information on electric transit, and a company has formed to manufacture electric buses. The benefits of this partnership include reduced congestion on downtown streets, reduced air emissions, and new jobs.

In 1989, Chattanooga was known as one of the most polluted cities in America. Less than 10 years later, the region has rid itself of this reputation and is now making a complete turnaround. In a relatively short period of time, Chattanooga and Hamilton County are reversing a history of environmental neglect by coming together as one community to create a long-term vision for the region.

Infusing sustainability concepts and practices into all aspects of local planning and public services, the collaboration has not only cleaned up the region, but it has become a model for the growing movement toward sustainability. The partnership's larger efforts cover open space preservation, waste refuse and recycling, watershed management, reclamation of polluted industrial sites for clean manufacturing, and creative transportation strategies.

One of the best-known results of this comprehensive partnership is the Electric Bus Initiative. The City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, working in conjunction with the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), the private sector, and citizens, have designed and developed a cutting-edge electric-bus public transportation system. The regional transit authority is now gradually replacing all of its diesel buses with the new emissions-free models. Three new satellite parking areas on the outskirts of town encourage the use of public transportation and provide revenue for a free shuttle bus service. Now a world leader in electric transit, Chattanooga/Hamilton County is selling its buses to other communities around the world, boosting the local economy and sharing the benefits of vastly improved public transportation and air quality.

A Sustaining Vision

The Chattanooga/Hamilton County Electric Bus Initiative grew out of the need for a transportation system that would curb the growth of downtown parking lots and create a more profitable and sustainable use of the land. The need for a revamped, environmentally friendly transportation system was underscored at two well-attended community brainstorming sessions -- Vision 2000 and Revision 2000. Sponsored by Chattanooga and Hamilton County, these sessions were conducted to foster partnerships between the public and private sectors and to bring citizens directly into the visioning process for their community's future. A fundamental concept to each of the city/county partnership's initiatives is that progress and quality of life depend on communication and participation from all of the region's citizens.

With community support, city and county officials charged CARTA to explore the use of electric transit and to develop a plan for the new system. It soon became evident that existing electric transit technology would not meet the needs identified by the community and CARTA's follow-up assessment. Instead of waiting for the technology to advance, CARTA created a local nonprofit called the Electric Transit Vehicle Institute (ETVI). Established in 1991, ETVI's purpose is to promote the design, production, and use of battery-powered electric transit vehicles.

CARTA currently operates 18 electric buses on the two downtown shuttle routes. These two routes connect the three main districts of Chattanooga's long, narrow downtown area. Shuttle users can park at any of the CARTA-owned and operated parking garages at either end of the downtown area, or at the three lots on the outskirts of town.

Not coincidentally, electric buses make stops at the city's new aquarium and movie theater, two additions to downtown Chattanooga that are expected to attract residents and tourists alike and spur continued economic development.

Every bag of popcorn bought in the new seven-screen cinema supports the Electric Bus Initiative. Opened in December 1996, the new movie theater is the first built in downtown in nearly 50 years. It is also part of an "intercept parking facility" that opened earlier in the year, designed to shift commuters and tourists from their cars to zero-emission electric buses at the shuttle terminal that shares the ground floor with the theater. Shuttle operations are supported by the theater's rent, which is partly based on profits.

Local Benefits, International Significance

Participating organizations, along with the Tennessee Valley Authority's Electric Vehicle Test Facility, comprise an innovative public-private collaboration that has significantly advanced electric transit vehicle systems. The program's "Living Laboratory" brings participants together to develop ETVs and share their discoveries worldwide.

This technology has proven to be an effective way to move people around downtown Chattanooga. In 1997, the electric buses will carry nearly a million people on buses that operate sixteen hours a day, every day, at five-minute intervals. The benefits of electric buses include a quiet ride, no need for tune-ups, reduced wear on roadways and brakes, no exhaust smell, lower operating costs, decreased dependence on foreign oil, a low floor design that offers an alternative to expensive floor lifts for persons with disabilities, and environmentally friendly transportation.

The Chattanooga/Hamilton County Electric Bus Initiative and downtown shuttle system together have redefined the state of the art in electric transit, established a new local industry with an international consumer base, sparked development, created new jobs, and transformed downtown transportation.

For further information, contact:
John Powell
Electric Transit Vehicle Institute
423-622-3884


Finding Solutions to Homelessness

City of Birmingham/Jefferson County, Alabama

Metropolitan Birmingham Services for the Homeless (MBSH) has provided a model for the state of Alabama to follow in putting continuum-of-care concepts in place. By pooling resources and taking advantage of the special capabilities of its member organizations, such as the research facilities of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, MBSH has not only fulfilled its role as a clearinghouse and center for coordination, but has attracted nearly $20 million for homeless services for the region.

In 1993, Metropolitan Birmingham Services for the Homeless (MBSH) became the lead agency to establish a comprehensive, coordinated service delivery system for the region's homeless. MBSH was formed in the 1980s to provide regional coordination of the wide range of services called for under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. Within five years, MBSH embraced the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's concept for Continuum of Care, which focuses on promoting a community-based process for identifying and fulfilling the needs of the homeless, and which draws on federal funds to support programs that help homeless individuals and families become self-sufficient, including prevention and outreach; emergency, transitional, and permanent housing; and social services such as job training, health care, and child care.

Because both Birmingham and Jefferson County are entitlement areas under the McKinney Act, a working partnership was crucial to avoid duplication of efforts in the region. The MBSH has worked with its members to develop seven partnership goals and numerous objectives to guide regional service delivery efforts (see box). Key players in MBSH represent the nonprofit sector, the city, the county, two public housing authorities, foundations, churches, the city police department, hospitals, the Veterans Administration, the county health department, contractors, the local community action agency, the real estate development community, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, local businesses, lending institutions, the United Way, and formerly homeless individuals. All are members of MBSH, serving on at least one committee, with several of these stakeholders providing technical assistance such as grant writing and resource development, identification of service providers' needs, assessment of client needs and relationships, and liaisons with the city and county.

Collecting and Sharing Information

One of the city/county partnership's first acts was to pool funds to engage the University of Alabama at Birmingham to perform a comprehensive census and a needs assessment of the area's homeless population in 1995. This research project provided all partners with statistically reliable information that was then used to design homeless programs and improve the present continuum of care to meet the changing needs of the expanding homeless population in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

The assessment included focus groups consisting of service and housing providers, homeless people, interested professionals, community leaders, foundations, contractors, and representatives of city and county governments. These focus groups have assisted in the planning process by providing an "on the street" perspective from providers and users of the service delivery system. The assessment process also solidified the partnership among the city, county, and the state university, as well as among homeless community providers and their clients.

Attracting Resources

The ongoing coordination of efforts has given the entire community an advantage in creating a continuum of care for the region's homeless. As a result of the four-year old MBSH Continuum of Care partnership, the Birmingham/Jefferson County area has secured $19.3 million in grants, including nine Supportive Housing Program grants, three Shelter Plus Care grants, one Single Room Occupancy program grant, and one Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Competitive grant.

The grant application process has unified participants and has served as a catalyst for further work. These joint efforts have resulted in continual improvements to service delivery for the homeless and a planning process that grew from the assessment during 1995, a subsequent update in 1997, and monthly surveys of area shelters. Committees have been organized to address specific issues, including membership development, research and information, advocacy, and interagency planning.

MBSH has carried out the partnership without funds for professional staff. Members of the collaboration pool funds to pay for professional assistance as needed, and are now exploring more permanent support for a full-time executive director. Currently, the president of MBSH is the executive director of a member agency who works voluntarily for MBSH.

Success in Numbers

It is impossible to estimate the total number of homeless people served through the Continuum of Care initiative, because many of the provider agencies do not have HUD grants, and access to their records is limited. However, a review of the region's seven HUD grantees for fiscal year 1996 indicates that at least 1,224 homeless persons were served, nearly one-half of the region's homeless population. One agency alone recorded serving more than 120,000 meals in 1996.

In addition to linking members across the region, the MBSH partnership has produced a stronger research base from which to coordinate decisions, has promoted collaboration and advocacy among the service providers that make up its membership, and has encouraged joint city/county planning that has stretched limited resources. The more than 2,500 homeless persons and 30,000 precariously housed residents of the Birmingham/Jefferson County area may rest a little easier knowing that the region is on its way to a streamlined, effective approach to helping them put down roots.

Goals of Metropolitan Birmingham Services for the Homeless

Recruit participants for planning from the community and homeless provider agencies.

Obtain agency and individual commitment to actively participate in completion of strategic planning.

Assess needs and resources annually to determine and prioritize gaps to be addressed.

Improve relationships among all planning participants.

Integrate any new programs targeted to serve the homeless into the existing Continuum of Care.

Establish an annual method of evaluation to ensure efficient homeless service delivery and reduction of homelessness.

Produce an annual vision statement, a document including annual goals and objectives of MBSH.

For further information, contact:
Steve Rapp, MBSH Board Member & Executive Director, Community Kitchens
Telephone: 205-251-3569