Toolkit: Why create a neighborhood association

Why create a neighborhood association

You’ve decided that a neighborhood association may be a good idea for your community. You may have thought about it for awhile and already talked to a few friends and neighbors. Or it may be a new idea.

Either way, the first question to ask is: Why? Neighbors come together for a variety of reasons, but knowing the answer is key to understanding what it is that you want a neighborhood association to look like, and what you think it will do for your community in terms of setting realistic goals and action plans.

Keller Park Neighborhood Association enjoys a July picnic.

Some neighbors want a more close-knit social feel to their streets, and envision friendly cookouts and book clubs and basketball games. Others have a social mission, too, but it’s more service-oriented: helping senior members in the neighborhood, planning for clean-up projects or a community garden.  Some South Bend neighborhoods just want to see a former or existing association re-energized.

Many neighborhoods have concerns about crime or neglected properties, so they come together to improve safety through Neighborhood Watch and other programs. Others face a specific problem that has evolved into an issue for many of the neighbors:  sewer replacement or road projects they believe will affect their quality of life, an unwelcome business (or one they want to support).

Clean-up day along the Lincoln Way West corridor, organized by Consuella’s Accounting & Tax Service.

It’s often smart for a community to organize around a “problem,” because neighbors with a collective voice are better positioned to talk with their elected officials and other stakeholders about what they want to see changed. But long-term success depends on seeing the strengths of your neighborhood, and understanding how your community contributes to the overall health and vitality of life in South Bend.

For this reason, the Neighborhood Resources Corporation believes that Asset-Based Community Development – the identification of strengths, skills and “people” resources that already exist in your neighborhood – is a model you can use to discover the solutions to neighborhood problems, too.

First steps for your neighborhood association