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5. Activate Community Support
Engaged and active communities are the lifeblood of any thriving city. That’s why smart city leaders involve local communities early and often in economic decision making. When this happens, citizens become ambassadors who help carry the work forward in meaningful, and more effective, ways. Because the community is engaged and involved, cities can develop solutions that are responsive to their residents’ needs and reflect a shared vision of the future.
Buy-in benefits everyone. Cities can harness the community’s knowledge, experience and networks. And residents, small business owners and other community members can play a vital role in planning, development and investment decisions that directly affect them. Ultimately, when real buy-in happens, citizens become advocates, policies are enacted and governments are held accountable for their promises and actions.
Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence, PolicyLink
New Orleans, Louisiana
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it seemed that everyone had a plan to help displaced New Orleanians find sustainable housing. Yet amid all of the plans and studies, action was slow to take hold.
That’s when the community stepped in. A group of more than 1,800 New Orleanians came together to create HousingNOLA, a partnership working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis, which created a comprehensive 10-year housing strategy for the City of New Orleans. With the support of JPMorgan Chase, HousingNOLA and its Lenders Roundtable then developed a Community Development Finance Plan that outlines the financial costs and funding necessary to support HousingNOLA’s 10-year plan.