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How To Improve Municipal Services for Underserved Community Members

By Mary Malcolm

Government services, at their core, are built on the principles of accessibility and inclusivity, intended to serve every member of a community, irrespective of factors like socioeconomic status, educational background, career, health, or disability. Yet, within communities across the United States, a troubling pattern persists, wherein certain groups are consistently overlooked. 

Historically, these marginalized groups encompass senior citizens, local war veterans, individuals grappling with housing insecurity, and members with disabilities. Astonishingly, only about 16% of eligible Americans avail themselves of federal benefits programs, underscoring a stark gap in effective outreach to these populations. Government agents bear a profound responsibility to their communities in reaching out to these segments through municipal service delivery, fostering the well-being of the entire community. However, this commitment isn't without recognition of the challenges local governments encounter. 

Local authorities have voiced their struggles in establishing robust lines of communication with citizens, which are pivotal for identifying and addressing the specific needs of these underserved members. Fortunately, advancements in government management technology, such as GovPilot, present opportunities to address these challenges by streamlining government operations directly to these citizens, ensuring the delivery of higher-quality services. 

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What Are Local Government Municipal Services?

A municipality traditionally refers to a city, town, or village governed by a mayor or council. Within this structure lies the concept of municipal services, which includes programs and offerings provided to residents in exchange for taxes. 

These municipal services, integral to the daily lives of residents, often operate behind the scenes, their significance unnoticed until they are absent. These essential services serve as the lifeblood of a community, upholding its functionality and ensuring the well-being of its inhabitants. Sanitation services keep streets clean, the fire department ensures safety, police maintain order, ambulances offer critical aid, and libraries serve as hubs of knowledge and community connection. These services work together to uphold community functionality. Recognizing their importance is key to understanding the symbiotic relationship between municipalities and residents' well-being.

Learn more about Improving Municipal Service Delivery here. 

How Can Local Governments Identify What Services Are Most Needed?

There are various ways to determine which services are most needed in your specific municipality. Here are a few of them: 

1. Gauge Public Opinion with Local Public Meetings

In order to better serve the community, it is quintessential to build a relationship between those who can provide relief and those who need it. Local public meetings allow for the congregation of members in the community to come forward as representatives of themselves and those with similar concerns. This provides opportunity for working dialogues where elected  government officials can communicate directly with the populations they serve, rather than a maintained degree of anonymity as faceless unknowns. 

Public meetings do come with some hesitation, as community members express a disinterest and inability to attend sessions. The dissonance of wanting change but uncertainty of how to approach it is unsurprising, but efforts can be made to maximize the potential of local public meetings.

Learn more about How To Improve Local Public Meetings and even host them online, with our resource.

2. Social Media Outreach 

In the past decade's technological revolution, social media, like X (formerly Twitter), has revolutionized communication. Municipalities have adopted these platforms for direct and efficient interaction with the public, ensuring clear and reliable information dissemination. Social media also allows instant community interaction, fostering quick issue resolution and aiding those facing work or mobility constraints. These online outreach opportunities level the playing field, enhancing community engagement.

Don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with constituents, as social media is probably the easiest and most effective way to hear directly from them about what services are most needed to improve their lives. 

Check out our resource, to learn everything about creating your own Local Government Social Media Strategy. 

3. Assess Infrastructure 

A sustained examination of the existing infrastructure offers a more comprehensive insight into the current infrastructure improvements needed in your municipality. Taking a pragmatic approach to assess the infrastructure and its underlying framework is essential for pinpointing weaknesses and gauging the potential for enhancement. 

Regular maintenance becomes crucial in adapting to the evolving needs of the public, and a thorough evaluation of the backlog in public requirements is imperative for the overall betterment of the community. Ensuring your community has disaster resilient infrastructure will help your city rebound from any potential disaster that could strike.  

  • GovTip: Check out GovInspect, GovPilot’s very own inspection software built to streamline inspection workflows and ensure accurate data is recorded and uploaded to the government cloud for interdepartmental improvement efforts. 

4. Analyze Demographics and Population Trends 

To know what groups are being underserved in your community, it is imperative to understand the demographics you are serving. Examination of recent censuses can give agencies a gauge on demographic analytics, in turn, using those statistics to adjust where emphasis is being placed in funding and programming. 

Analyze your local government’s population trends and growth, learn how to in our Local Government Population Guide

5. Collaborate with Community Advocates 

Oftentimes, when large groups are lacking representation in government, groups or individuals step forward as a voice for these members. When people feel as though they may be getting left behind in the progression of their community, this injustice sparks a drive for resolution. Local government officials may find aid in their civil service by working collaboratively with those group representatives, seeking common ground and discovering what will work best for the cohesive unit. 

6. Review Current Service Offerings 

As the number of underserved community member populations grow, this necessitates a deeper look at the programs and services already implemented. Dissatisfaction of certain groups is the implicit inability for the services to provide to those groups in the way they may need. While the problem may be community members uncertainty of how to take advantage of programs, it may also be that the services do not aid in the way they are intended to do so, and potential reconfiguration should be considered. 

Public Services That Commonly Need Improvements 

In municipalities across the U.S, many of the few most common government services need improvements. Focus on these key public services to ensure they are up to par in your city. 

  • Transportation 

The expanding job opportunities increasingly distant from central cities and jobs likely not in your municipality are driving a surge in the demand for improved public transportation. This shift often leaves low-income community members at a disadvantage, as their access to these employment prospects is hindered without reliable public transportation. Enhancements in routing, availability, and reliability not only foster self-sufficiency but should also be celebrated for their far-reaching advantages.

When people gain improved access to a broader range of job opportunities, they not only enhance their financial well-being and rates of upward mobility but also gain the means to afford other necessities and luxuries. This includes access to childcare services, which, in turn, can lead to a ripple effect of benefits throughout the local economy.

In essence, a robust public transportation system doesn't just bridge the gap between jobs and individuals; it acts as a catalyst for economic growth and community development. Learn how Your Local Government Can Improve Local Public Transportation.  

  • Healthcare Services 

Modern and updated healthcare research indicates that quality of life and access to healthcare are positively correlated, suggesting that, in the interest of the community members, creating access to affordable healthcare services is essential. Not every community member that resides in your city has the means or access to healthcare services on their own, and local governments fill in that accessibility gap by offering beneficial and thorough healthcare services. 

Learn even more about Public Healthcare Services and how to ensure they remain sustainable for long term usage with our resource, and check out GovPilot’s Health Department Software. 

  • Education Services 

It is found that quality of education exists as a lower priority in rural and underprivileged areas, groups continually affected by the lack of resources provided. Delineating funding in an equitable way, with these groups in mind increases the accessibility to quality education for all and helps community members who attend public schools enjoy an equitable level of education. 

  • Housing and Urban Development 

As the number of people struggling with homelessness, or housing-insecurity, increases, a prioritization needs to be placed on affordable housing options. Local governments can combat homelessness with urban planning strategies and housing shortage development plans. Softwares such as our own at GovPilot, create ease in streamlining housing management where you can manage housing stock, generate income from short-term rental properties, and so much more. 

Check out GovPilot’s Housing Software to learn more about your locality’s options in providing and tracking affordable housing in your area. 

The Benefits of Improving Municipal Services in Underserved Communities 

While there are countless benefits to improved government services, here are a few that are specific to addressing the most historically underserved members of the community. 

1. Enhanced Quality of Life

Empowering individuals with access to essential resources and extending support where it's required not only relieves stress but also paves the way for a profound sense of overall happiness. The positive outcomes of enhancements in healthcare, education, housing, and infrastructure become evident almost immediately within the community. As the quality of life improves on an individual level, the ripple effect is felt far and wide, leading to a significant and tangible enhancement in the overall well-being of the community.

2. Improved Public Health and Well-Being 

It is found that ease of access to quality healthcare serves as a pivotal role in the shaping of positive health outcomes and the reduction of mortality rates. Fostering an enhancement of physical and mental well being translates into individuals enjoying longer, healthier lives. Ultimately, this serves an elemental role in a prosperous society. 

Read our guide on How Local Health Departments Can Reduce Obesity in Children & Adults and Encourage Exercise

3. Education and Skill Development 

By ensuring equitable resource allocation and enhancing education quality, we empower our youth for a brighter future. Quality education equips them with essential skills for employment and personal growth, while also fostering innovation and contributing to overall societal progress.

4. Economic Growth and Productivity 

Improvements in these respective areas all come with the ripple effect of economic growth and elevated output; This will be seen following the betterment of infrastructure, transportation, and promotion of economic opportunities via boosted economic activity, job creation/lower unemployment rates and higher productivity. Economic Development is a vital aspect of improving the overall well-being of community members and requires action on behalf of the local government of supporting government services and constituents that need to utilize them. 

Check out GovPilot’s Economic Development Software here. 

5. Social Equity and Inclusion 

In the improvement of outreach and services across the board, this mitigates the effects felt by the socioeconomic gap between groups in the community. As that bridge closes, social equity and inclusion is promoted. Most importantly, ensuring that those included in marginalized and vulnerable populations have equal access. 

6. Reduction of Inequalities

As weaknesses in existing services and resources, they may be addressed and remedied. This creates a course of action in future programming that will minimize the chance of such errors continuing. The rectification of these disparities creates a nondiscriminatory society in which accessibility is not based on background, location, or affiliations. Governments have begun utilizing “upward mobility”, a term describing an individuals’ advancement towards increased status or financial standing. 

Learn more about Improving Upward Mobility in your locality. 

7. Environmental Sustainability

Not only will the benefits of increased quality of government services be seen on the individual level, but effects will be felt globally. As municipal services expand, access to clean water, effective waste management and sustainability efforts will work harmoniously in the contribution to environmental conservation. 

Do you wonder: Why Does Sustainability Matter at the Local Level? Learn everything you need to know with our guide. 

Prioritize Improving Municipal Services for Underserved Community Members Now

Local government officials owe underserved populations the same dedication and consideration as members of higher socioeconomic status within the community. Change begins at the local level and can be achieved through the meeting and understanding of who these government agents represent. Improvement to public services and community outreach through municipal software promises a more prosperous society and stronger community, with government software solutions from GovPilot to help your municipality . 

To learn more about how GovPilot can help, book a free demo.

Citizen Engagement FAQs

Why Should Government Services Be Geared Towards Underserved Community Members? 

Local governments should take a look into the historically underserved communities' in your locality, to understand a greater insight into the needs of constituents in your municipality. Some communities within your municipality do not have the time or resources to advocate for themselves. Government services in many states throughout the nation have been historically overlooked or neglected when it comes to serving municipal goods and services, meaning governments need to specifically prioritize delivering the necessary services to these groups. 

Why Is Municipal Service Delivery Important? 

Municipal services bridge the gap between unmet necessities of community members, and the services that they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Ensuring that the correct services to help community members meets their homes relies on the collaboration and organization of governments entities. Delivering helpful services is a main need of the government. 

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Tags: Constituent Engagement, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation