Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Innovation Team helps Atlanta improve homeless services

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed used a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to streamline programs that serve the city’s homeless population. (Skolkovo Foundation/Flickr/cc)

Atlanta is putting more homeless residents in shelters after getting its own house in order. Mayor Kasim Reed writes on that just a few years ago, a bloated bureaucracy involving 100 programs was responsible for helping this vulnerable population.

With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the city deployed an Innovation Delivery Team to weave those fragmented efforts into a unified strategy. In 2013, Atlanta launched Unsheltered No More, a campaign to house 800 homeless by the end of last year. The city would exceed the goal, sheltering 1,022 people, the mayor writes.

The team also recognized that the city was using more than 170 phone numbers to dispense information about a range of services, including homeless initiatives. Callers complained that accessing data was tedious and confusing. To improve “customer service,” Atlanta launched a non-emergency line called ATL311 that trimmed wait times from an average of 2 minutes to just 20 seconds, Reed says.

Atlanta was one of five cities to receive a total of $24 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to launch innovation teams. Chicago used its funds to aid struggling small businesses. 


More from Citiscope

Latest Commentary