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Neighborhood organizations have been active partners with cities in service provision for many years, providing an institutional structure for coordinated action to improve their neighborhood environments through coordinated resident action. Cities' needs to relieve fiscal distress are now generating even more interest in direct service delivery by community-based organizations (CBOs). Before these efforts can be substantially expanded, however, much more needs to be learned about the kinds of services amenable to CBO delivery, the kinds of CBOs willing and able to participate, and the most effective administrative arrangements for delivering the service. This paper draws on information obtained from applications for a Federal demonstration program to address these and other empirical questions regarding city and CBO arrangements for service coproduction.

The analysis indicates that cities are most likely to rely on advocacy-type organizations to deliver peripheral or supplementary services which are amenable to volunteer labor rather than those which are viewed as essential public services. Cities have yet to demonstrate, on a large scale, a willingness to enter into partnerships which would give CBOs significant responsibilities for core services. For this to occur it will be necessary to support prototype demonstrations of the feasibility of the approach and to expand significantly the capacity of CBOs through technical assistance.