COMMUNITY ORANIZING AND BUILDING RESIDENT LEADERSHIP
RHIC's Community Organizing practice is at the core of all RHIC programs, projects, and actions. RHIC assists residents through a variety of trainings, political education, and strategic and action planning activities to effectively and democratically voice the needs of RHIC’s constituency.
Through community organizing RHIC helps develop the skills of local leadership so that residents think strategically, weigh and select issues, convene effective meetings, conduct research, analyze public policy positions, negotiate with public and private officials, develop work plans, and develop a common vision for their community.
Through community organizing,
Organizing opportunities and initiatives rooted in RHIC’s values and approach can be implemented.
Key RHIC partners and leaders are placed in strategic positions that increase resident voice and power in community initiatives and key decision-making bodies.
Housing and economic development policies that advance RHIC’s values and goals are promoted.
New community leadership is identified, and the political and economic education of all leadership is increased.
Real means of power for RHIC’s constituency can be built.
Small projects can lead to effective new leaders. Residents work directly with RHIC’s community organizer to develop effective approaches to address common concerns, such as sanitation and public safety. Some of the actions RHIC has taken with residents are: (1) getting speed bumps and stop signs installed on certain streets; (2) increasing police presence and action on various blocks; and (3) building beautiful and open green spaces on various vacant lots and public spaces;
Reservoir Hill has many apartment buildings and more tenants living in renovated row homes, but very little organized tenant leadership. Tenants in both apartment buildings and renovated homes experience many common problems, including poor maintenance of the building, unresponsive management staff, and public safety matters.
RHIC is organizing tenants so that their voice can be heard and problems can be effectively addressed. Organizing tenants involves building strong and effective leadership so that tenants groups can strategically address their concerns.
RHIC is also working with the Rental Housing Coalition to reform laws around how evictions are carried out, and retaliatory evictions.
Inclusionary Housing Campaign
The vision of a mixed-income community requires a housing development policy that promotes inclusive communities – communities diverse racially and economically. This means reversing housing policy that has in the past concentrated wealth and poverty, and creating policies and incentives that ensure housing affordable to low and moderate income families across the city.
As a member of the Inclusive Housing Coalition, RHIC promotes legislation that sets requirements of major developments to include such housing opportunities, and create a large funding source for a variety of affordable housing needs.
RHIC is also developing an agenda for affordable housing collaboration with other neighborhood organizations.
The Better Schools Initiative
By organizing parents and community members, RHIC prevented the closure of Reservoir Hill’s only elementary school and initiated a Parent-Teacher-Community Organization. The more 250 residents that took part in the 2006 campaign gained a better understanding of the city processes and policies that impact the education of our children, saw how their local problem required a city-wide solution, and gained the sense that together we can win. The Better Schools Initiative continues to organize parent voices in favor of adequate funding of city schools.
Tenants and homeowners worked together to save the Route 5 bus line through Reservoir Hill for the elderly residents dependent on the service, while also moving the line off of a stretch of street that was being damaged by heavy bus use. Adequate public transportation connecting residents to job opportunities and services is a crucial aspect of urban revitalization.
Greening Reservoir Hill
RHIC has developed a Green Master Plan, but this program depends heavily upon community organizing to develop ideas and to implement and maintain projects. The plan provides a framework which resident leaders and block clubs can use to develop ideas to address common problems such as dealing with an illegal dumping site or simply for activating residents to beautify their block.