City of Charlotte partners with New York City’s Public Engagement Unit

Britt Clampitt

Charlotte, N.C. (May 23, 2018)— Representatives from the City Manager's Office in Charlotte, North Carolina, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Public Engagement Unit (PEU) have established an ongoing partnership that will help both cities expand efforts to proactively engage constituents who can benefit from key services and programs.

Charlotte city government officials spent two days shadowing PEU's outreach specialists as they canvassed rent-regulated buildings, knocking on tenants' doors to inform them of city programs that protect tenants from landlord harassment and provide housing-related legal assistance. Strategy sessions were also conducted to analyze existing outreach programs and technology in both cities, exchange best practices to increase participation in public services and strengthen civic ties.

With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, both cities will continue exchanging strategies and digital tools as new, innovative solutions are developed to solve the unique issues facing their constituents.

"We value our partnership with New York to expand and continually enhance outreach and engagement," said Charlotte City Manager Marcus D. Jones.

Over the past two years, with support from the Knight Foundation, the City of Charlotte has tested new methods of inclusive community engagement to get resident feedback in the areas of community safety, housing options and good-paying jobs. The city has harnessed its existing capital by activating 160 city employees and community partners to have one-on-one conversations with Charlotte residents both in person and over the phone through the city's 311 customer service center. Nearly 8,000 conversations were held, reaching one in 100 Charlotteans.

"The conversations have been educational and powerful both for employees and civic leaders conducting the conversations, as well as for residents who may be connecting with local government for the first time in a personal way," said Charles Thomas, the Knight Foundation's Charlotte program director. "Our goal is to help people design their own future."

Mayor de Blasio created PEU in 2015 as a pioneering new model for government that proactively meets New Yorkers in their communities by knocking on doors, making calls and holding local events, and providing individualized and in-person assistance, all to increase access to key city programs, including tenants' rights, affordable housing, homelessness prevention and reduction, and healthcare. PEU uses custom digital tools and data, innovative outreach methods and case-management strategies to help increase awareness of and participation in programs that keep New Yorkers healthy, stably housed and more engaged with their government.

"Mayor De Blasio set a bold vision for how city government should engage all New Yorkers – by proactively bringing important services to the people in each community," said New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. "We continue to see the impact of that vision as we reach record milestones across a variety of city programs, including health insurance enrollment and housing. I look forward to our partnership with Charlotte as we continue to innovate in community outreach and engagement."


The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 850,000 residents. The City's focus areas are Community Safety, Housing and Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Environment and Transportation & Planning. For the latest news about city government, visit the Citywide Newsroom. From our website, you can sign up to receive email updates on City topics that interest you through the Notify Me service.