Human services organizations that share space or “colocate” often reap benefits in property management, administrative services, and opportunities for collaboration. Less is understood about the service usage patterns and benefits for clients who utilize services across multiple providers in the same location.
This report documents early lessons and recommendations from ongoing research on participant use of services across multiple organizations housed at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) in the District of Columbia’s Ward 8. THEARC has 14 resident partner organizations and is coordinated by Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR). THEARC provides a multitude of services; in 2017, more than 100,000 people visited THEARC, and its resident partners provided $30 million in programs and services to the community. The on-campus programs provided by BBAR and its partners are primarily directed at children and youth and cover a wide range of services, including education, recreation, arts, health care, workforce development, and environmental inquiry. The shared aim of partners at THEARC is to improve the quality of life of their participants, many of whom are affected by the significant social and economic disparities generated by a troubled history of racial segregation and disinvestment in DC’s easternmost wards.
Although the data from this phase of the study are too preliminary to draw fixed conclusions, we found that the intentional colocation of partners at THEARC produces potentially notable effects on the health and well-being of the adults and children who cross-utilize them. Further research will explore the breadth and depth of outcomes for participants.