A sprawling metropolitan area, the North Carolina capital City of Raleigh is home to nearly half a million people. As the second largest city in North Carolina, the City of Raleigh serves a diverse community, which is evidenced by 49% of its population identifying as a minority.
Here’s how the Raleigh team used PublicInput to create the “Engage Raleigh” online community engagement portal in 2018 to serve as home for their informative and listening efforts for its Affordable Housing Bond Feedback Data Analysis project.
The Challenge: Affordable Housing
Though Raleigh is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, over 33% of Raleigh households currently spend 30% or more of their gross income on housing costs each month; this means around one third of all Raleigh residents are “cost burdened” or “severely cost-burdened” by housing costs.
A 50% growth rate in Raleigh’s metro area population since 2011– coupled with rising home and rental prices– meant that the City needed to take action and sought to pursue the passage of an affordable housing bond during the November 2020 local election. The proposed action would represent $80 million worth of investment; the largest housing legislation proposed in Raleigh history.
As part of the effort, city staff planned to engage the community about the bond’s feasibility using a series of planned in-person public forums. The need to pivot became clear as the team was faced with determining how to collect meaningful input from the community amid the in-person restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Solution: Agile Community Engagement Powered by PublicInput
The City created a 24-person advisory committee to oversee the public outreach and engagement effort associated with the affordable housing bonds. Made up of local leaders, community members and stakeholder representatives, over the course of a few months the advisory board used the PublicInput Engagement Hub to engage more than 4,800 residents by pairing a strategic social media marketing campaign with the following Engagement Hub features:
- Created an online affordable housing bond survey
- Hosted virtual public meetings with recordings available for later use
- Automatically captured virtual meeting comments
- Integrated Local media options into the online survey
- Increased Language accessibility using the integrated translation tools
- Shared the Engagement Hub phone-in input option to allow for offline accessibility
By using the PublicInput platform (pictured below), the Raleigh team was able to survey the public about their level of perceived support with each bond option as well as overlay participant data using the Equity Mapping feature to clearly see the impact and potential gaps in their reach based on community demographics.
In addition to pivoting their in-person outreach and engagement to the online survey, the Raleigh team also leaned heavily on the PublicInput Administrative Dashboard to analyze the responses and develop deep insights that formed a basis for understanding the viability of the bond.
One of the most important insights generated demonstrated that 97% of respondents who “strongly agreed” with continuing to support the initiative, also reported their intention to vote in the upcoming election.
Despite last-minute setbacks– such as moving all in-person meetings to virtual– the affordable housing bond project was a resounding success. With the highest approval rating in the City of Raleigh’s bond history, voters offered overwhelming support to the city’s proposed $80 million bond, with nearly 72% of those voting, supporting it.
Using PublicInput, the Raleigh team was able to quickly adapt and pivot to keep their project moving forward. Project benefits include the ability for the team to:
- Save time by pivoting to virtual meeting opportunities rather than waiting for in-person meeting options to resume.
- Increase resident reach by using online surveys that supported the needed language accessibility.
- Offer decision makers defensible options that were supported with safely stored information in the form of meeting recordings and online survey responses.
- Develop and validate voting behavior insights that supported a recommended action.
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