Volume 11 No 4
Update on CommUNITY 2000
Changes in housing markets, proposals to establish group homes, and the implementation of mobility programs have prompted outbursts of protest, violence and NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard) across the nation. These circumstances point to the need for a strategic effort directed toward eliminating community tensions associated with fair housing. CommUNITY 2000, a HUD-funded collaborative initiative of the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF), the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), and local advocacy groups, was conceived to respond to this need. CommUNITY 2000 is designed not only to provide, through a core coalition structure, community-based responses to the particular circumstances faced by communities in these three sites, but also to set the stage, as we share our learning, for future and ongoing collaborations toward the alleviation of fair housing-related tensions in communities throughout the nation.
With the project a few months past its midpoint, local partners have moved into the implementation stages of their programs:
In Boston, the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (Center) is taking a grassroots approach to addressing community tensions in the region. The Center is advancing the overall goals of CommUNITY 2000 by: (1) enhancing efforts already underway in communities such as Medford; (2) introducing the concept of community/rapid response capacity to networks seeking such a focus; and (3) distilling the elements of effective efforts as inspiration and instruction for others to use. The Center is finding that its coalition building efforts are making new connections between and within communities so that like minded individuals or projects can benefit from the experience and support of others.
In Chicago, the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities (LCMOC) is focusing its efforts on local public officials and religious groups as important actors whose leadership is needed to generate increased access to communities and the establishment of diverse communities. The LCMOC is growing the capacity in the region to create conditions more favorable to fair housing by bringing together groups, in a variety of forums, to better initiate and coordinate work. Access Living is developing a self-advocacy curriculum to educate group home clients in the Chicago area about housing alternatives and to empower them to become effective self-advocates. This curriculum will adapt easily to conform to applicable state legal requirements, so it can be replicated nationwide. Access Living has also developed a disability-related fair housing curriculum, which it is using for its college campus housing workshops. This curriculum is designed to provide college students with and without disabilities information about fair housing as it relates to disability issues, and includes a discussion of CommUNITY 2000 as a solution to the limited housing choices faced by persons with disabilities.
In San Diego, the Fair Housing Council of San Diego convened a training symposium on hate crimes and the responsibility of owners, which was attended by 90 owners and managers, fair housing advocates, housing authority personnel, and HUD personnel. Feedback from this symposium has been very positive.
HUD has now awarded LCEF additional funding to work on housing-related community tensions issues. With these funds, LCEF will build on the work already underway as part of the CommUNITY 2000 project by exporting its program strategies to different parts of the country. During this second phase of the project, the CommUNITY 2000 national team of LCEF and NFHA will provide or supervise training and technical assistance related to continued work in Boston, retain Access Living as a consultant to work on disability issues, and develop and implement new model programs in the Triangle region of North Carolina. This approach will thus juxtapose an established, urban northern community with long-entrenched racial divisions and a growing, more rural southern community with newly-emerging tensions around the influx on non-English speaking immigrants, thereby developing strategies to address the challenges that a broad spectrum of communities across the country face in the 21st Century.