Addressing Livability Challenges in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

City: Anaheim, California

Reporting to: Deputy City Manager/Planning Director

The Challenge

Like many cities across the US, the City of Anaheim lacks sufficient affordable housing, and residents rely almost exclusively on automobiles for daily activities. These two factors combined create over-crowded living conditions and parking challenges in the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Parking scarcity severely impacts the quality of life in neighborhoods that share socio-economic attributes such as high poverty, high rent burden, severe over-crowding, and an aging housing stock. The result is parking tickets burdening residents, unsafe circulation for emergency vehicles, and adjoining neighborhood conflicts. Mayor Aitken and City Council have identified improving the quality of life in impacted neighborhoods—with reducing parking challenges as a key goal—as a city priority. They recognize the need for innovative solutions that go beyond building more parking.

The Mayor and City Council recently kicked-off a strategic planning process with the mandate to “think big” when it comes to improving neighborhoods. Public safety, transportation, and quality affordable housing are critical issues in these neighborhoods. Many of the impacted neighborhoods are made up of low-income Latino families, with many people working in service industry jobs in Anaheim. The hope is that this project will lead to larger policy discussions about creating much needed new affordable housing units and how these new communities can be properly connected to job centers via transit or other means. Addressing parking scarcity and the related issue of high housing costs is also the focus of the city’s participation in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative’s Innovation Track through which a cross-departmental city team is learning innovation techniques to engage residents in testing, adapting, and scaling creative ideas to tackle this priority. As part of this initiative, the city team is engaging with residents, property owners, and property managers in two key neighborhoods that share characteristics to understand their experiences and the scale of the problem.

The summer fellow will work side-by-side with the Innovation Track team to help the city deliver on its initial ideas emerging from the track work and make progress towards the city’s goals of improving resident quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods. In addition, the work of the summer fellow can potentially support integrating and expanding the learnings from the Innovation Track to other challenges and departments throughout the city. A successful summer fellow will help implement an initiative developed as a result of gaining deeper resident insights and help test new methods of problem solving at city hall. Key questions include:

  • How might the city implement the initiative chosen for testing as part of the Innovation Track team’s work on improving livability?

  • How might the city incorporate the lessons learned in the Innovation Track to scale innovation throughout the city?

What You’ll Do

Working together with the innovation track core team comprised of representatives from Planning, Neighborhood and Human Services; Housing and Community Development; Public Works Traffic and Transportation Planning; etc., the fellow will help support the implementation plan coming out of the track work and help the city scale new resident-engaged ways of working across city hall.

Key Deliverables Include:

  1. Implementation plan for initiative chosen for testing during the track and advancing the delivery plan put together during the final phase of the program.
  2. Potential testing/planning around one of the other initiatives from the portfolio of initiatives developed to improve livability by the innovation track team.
  3. Plan to scale innovation methods learned in the track to other policy challenges within the city.
  4. A presentation to key stakeholders, including the Mayor and City Manager, of the fellow’s recommendations.


What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
  • Mapping (GIS) preferred but not required
  • Policy analysis
  • Design Thinking
  • Spanish language fluency (preferred)


The fellow is also expected to bring the following mindsets:

  • Curiosity
  • Creativity
  • Passion and energy
  • Teamwork


Back to Summer Fellowships page.

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