The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
- Table of Contents
- Civil Rights and Fair Housing Today
- CommUNITY2000: What is it? Why is it?
- Building Communities With a Menu of Strategies
- National Partners
- The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston
- Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities
- Access Living
- The Fair Housing Council of San Diego
- Building Community for the Future
- Appendix A: Case Studies on Coalition Building Activities
- Appendix B: Census 2000 Charts
Building Community Throughout the Country
CommUNITY 2000, the first comprehensive program to develop a national model for preventing and responding to community tensions, could not have happened without committed leadership. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF) and the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) were uniquely qualified to provide it.
LCCREF is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to civil rights education and research. It informs the public about the progress made in civil rights and inter-group relations, the continuing challenges and the strength of the country's diversity. LCCREF is closely affiliated with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation's oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition.
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), a consortium of more than 80 private non-profit fair housing organizations, promotes equal housing, lending and insurance opportunities through education, enforcement, training and research.
"LCCREF and NFHA were an ideal partnership for this project," said Wade Henderson, Executive Director of LCCR. "NFHA provided the fair housing perspective for LCCREF's expertise in research and education."
By joining forces, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund and the National Fair Housing Alliance were able to ensure that CommUNITY 2000 maintained its fair housing focus, and developed appropriate programs to address the negative responses (from tensions to hate crimes) that can result when people exercise their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
"The [CommUNITY 2000] project became necessary because HUD and fair housing groups had begun to realize that they were focused on enforcement of fair housing laws, but not paying attention to the consequences of enforcement," said Corrine Yu, who was named national program director of CommUNITY 2000 in August 1999. "There was no mechanism to address what happened when neighbors did not welcome a new family."
"Before CommUNITY 2000, what existed in terms of prevention existed solely in the civil rights arena, not the fair housing arena," said Karen McGill Lawson, Executive Director of LCCREF. "What this project did was hopefully make fair housing activists look at the longer term impact of their work. Tensions happen because of where people live."
Together, the staffs of LCCREF and NFHA conceived and designed CommUNITY 2000, building the engine that made the project run. They focused their energies in two areas in particular: disseminating information and building coalitions.
To that end, their organizations brought together some of the most well-respected names in the civil rights and fair housing arenas to form the CommUNITY 2000 National Advisory Board. Its members lent considerable expertise and prestige to the endeavor, and provided the local and national partners with valuable information and advice as the project moved forward.
The national advisory board functioned as the third member in a triumvirate that guided CommUNITY 2000 at the national level.
The project was divided into two phases, the first of which ran from July 1999 to December 2001. What follows is a description of the numerous contributions each national partner made to the successes of the first phase of CommUNITY 2000.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund
In July 1999, the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund a $1.5 million "Community Tensions Project" grant. The funds were to be used to develop and implement a national project that addressed community tensions related to persons exercising their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
LCCREF was charged with administering the grant, and the project was dubbed "CommUNITY 2000." For Phase I of the project, LCCREF entered into contractual agreements with the National Fair Housing Alliance as its national partner; and the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities (Chicago), Access Living (Chicago), The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston and the Fair Housing Council of San Diego as its local partners.
Besides fulfilling its considerable administrative responsibilities, LCCREF accomplished the following during the course of Phase I:
LCCREF closely examined the civil rights/fair housing climate in 10 cities that were not CommUNITY 2000 partners. The goal was twofold. First, LCCREF wanted to assess how effectively fair housing groups around the country reacted when faced with housing-related community tensions. Secondly, LCCREF wanted to learn the extent to which these fair housing groups formed coalitions or partnerships to address community tensions. LCCREF called the process and the report that its staff ultimately produced an "environmental scan."
The scan focused on the following cities: Atlanta, GA; Durham, NC; Houston, TX; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; Omaha, NE; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA, and Cincinnati, OH. These cities were chosen because they had affiliate chapters of the National Conference of Community and Justice and National Fair Housing Alliance; because they were listed among the top 50 segregated metropolitan areas in the country; and because each had experienced recent, high profile, racially charged incidents.
Of the 10 cities studied, the scan determined that the fair housing center in Cincinnati was the only one leading efforts to prevent and respond to community tensions. (For more information on Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) in Cincinnati, refer to the Menu of Strategies listed earlier). More typically, fair housing centers in the other cities simply referred discrimination cases to HUD for investigation, and did little to help the victim or the community.
LCCREF staff members who conducted the scan also looked for patterns in the types of coalitions that the fair housing and civil rights leaders in these cities formed. Staff studied specific reasons why coalitions were able to form, and similarities that prevented coalitions from forming in areas that appeared ripe for a coalition to exist.
LCCREF developed a comprehensive website for the CommUNITY 2000 project, which enabled it to disseminate resources and training materials to a wide audience. The web site also gave communities, civil rights groups, fair housing organizations and all parties interested in the CommUNITY 2000 agenda the ability to interact quickly and effectively.
"The web site serves as a forum for fair housing and civil rights groups all over the country," said Anika Penn, national program coordinator for Phase I. "And it provides a way for anyone to be able to get a blueprint for resolving community tensions."
LCCREF constructed an internal website, or "Intranet," for the CommUNITY 2000 project. It is a secure site that allows national and local partners to communicate electronically, and submit their quarterly reports to HUD.
The organization also provided several "offline" resources to the project, including its own publications such as "Cause for Concern: Hate Crimes in America." Working with the Ad Council, LCCREF distributed radio public service announcements nationwide to promote the project; in the three project sites, these spots included local tag lines about the local partners, and generated approximately $145,000 in free air time.
In addition, two resources have been distributed through local NFHA affiliates as well as through the web site: "Preventing Hate, Promoting Respect " (a CD Rom Tool and Manual containing strategies to help students address issues of diversity and bias) and a Fair Housing Lesson Plan to help students understand the importance of fair housing.
LCCREF also produced a CommUNITY 2000 informational brochure, which contained information about the project, and its national and local partners.
Monitoring and Planning
Along with the National Fair Housing Alliance, LCCREF monitored the project through frequent contact with the local partners via telephone and the Internet. Further, the national partners made regular visits to the local sites, and planned several meetings, held in Washington, D.C., with the local partners and National Advisory Board members (the latter group at LCCREF expense).
A deliberate planning process (culminating in the approval of site-specific project plans) and consistent contact among all the partners moved the project forward as a cohesive whole, and also allowed everyone to adjust and alter their strategies as the need arose.
"We deliberately took a flexible and fluid approach, as we knew the model would evolve over time as we learned more about how the local communities needs could best be met within a national framework," Corrine Yu said.
For example, LCCREF adjusted the timetable for training local rapid response teams because local sites wanted time to implement components of their prevention strategies before finalizing the rapid response teams.
To enhance its fair housing partners' ability to address community tension prevention and response, LCCREF also delivered technical assistance and training through training sessions in Washington, D.C., conducted by national experts. Topics covered included media outreach and public relations; school hate crime prevention programs; crisis response protocols and other promising approaches; coalition building; and advanced technology applications.
Early in Phase I of CommUNITY 2000, LCCREF recognized the need to evaluate the project and took steps to do so.
LCCREF contracted with Philip Nyden and Joe Hoereth of the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University of Chicago to evaluate the work of the Leadership Council and Access Living in Chicago, and with Kristina Hals, the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston.
Juliet Saltman, a CommUNITY 2000 National Advisory Board member and a former sociology professor at Kent State University in Ohio, evaluated the work of the Fair Housing Center in San Diego. Saltman now lives in the San Diego area.
Apart from the San Diego evaluation itself, one of Saltman's recommendations was that, for any and all future CommUNITY 2000 endeavors, the evaluation process needed to be built into the project before it started. LCCREF agreed.
The National Fair Housing Alliance
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is, first and foremost, a coalition of fair housing groups. Since its inception in 1988, it has been regularly disseminating information to its member organizations to help them advocate and operate more effectively.
Given its expertise in fair housing coalition-building and its contacts within the housing industry, NFHA was able to greatly enhance CommUNITY 2000's effectiveness.
"We were very focused on making sure that the knowledge we were accumulating about how to fight hate and respond to community tensions was going to get out to as many organizations as possible," said Kathy Fletcher, director of member services for NFHA. "What was the point if others couldn't take what we'd learned during the CommUNITY 2000 project and make the most of it?"
Throughout the course of CommUNITY 2000 Phase I, the National Fair Housing Alliance utilized its considerable strengths in the following ways:
"Fight Hate" Manuals
One its primary achievements during Phase I was the creation and dissemination of its "Fight Hate: A Prevention and Response Guide for America's Neighborhoods" manual, and its "Fight Hate: A Rapid Response Strategy" checklist. Both are full-color, user-friendly booklets.
The "Prevention and Response Guide" offers concrete, practical advice and instructions for preventing and responding to neighborhood tensions. It explains:
- What a hate crime is
- The relationship between housing-related hate activity and housing discrimination
- Federal Fair Housing laws
- How to respond to housing-related hate activity.
- How to help victims
The "Rapid Response Strategy," intended for use in conjunction with the "Prevention and Response Guide," is a thorough checklist for developing community responses to tensions and possible hate crimes.
The National Fair Housing Alliance not only developed the booklets, its staff also developed a media campaign to ensure that the manuals were distributed to as many interested organizations as possible.
"The national and local partners spent untold hours trying to understand the roots and reasons for housing-related hate crimes, and then working to prevent them," said Shanna Smith, NFHA's executive director. "Not everyone interested in fighting these problems is going to have that kind of time and resources. Most people don't know how to fight hate crimes, even in the fair housing arena, not to mention the political arena and law enforcement. These manuals are concrete guides to help them understand what we learned and replicate it, so that they don't have to reinvent the wheel."
NFHA drafted a full-color brochure, ultimately produced by LCCREF, that contained:
- A brief explanation of CommUNITY 2000
- Thumbnail sketches of the national and local partners
- Lists of contact names and numbers, and resources
- A "Call To Action," encouraging people to actively work toward harmonious neighborhoods.
Monitoring and Planning
Along with LCCREF, NFHA monitored the project through frequent contact with the local partners via telephone and the Internet. Further, the national partners made regular visits to the local sites, and planned several meetings, held in Washington, D.C., with the local partners and National Advisory Board members.