Strategies for Developing Neighborhood Associations
Dear neighborhood leaders:
Clearwater neighborhoods are the heart and soul of our great city. We depend on our residents to keep the city administration and City Council apprised of the everyday needs in each of Clearwater’s diverse neighborhoods.
Our mission as a city is to provide a safe, healthy and vibrant community to the residents of Clearwater, along with a stimulating and nurturing environment for Clearwater’s business community and tourists.
What is a Neighborhood Association and What Does It Do?
A neighborhood association is a group of residents who meet regularly to accomplish neighborhood goals. The association may include homeowners, renters, apartment residents, business owners, nonprofit organizations, church members and school officials. Depending on the organizational goals, meetings may be held twice a year, once a quarter or every month. Neighborhood associations facilitate communication between residents and local government to support change, organize improvement efforts and help organize volunteers for community projects. It is important to identify some of your goals before you ask others to form a neighborhood association. Goals should be specific, measurable, realistic and achievable.
Goals for improving your neighborhood may include:
• Organizing workshops to educate residents about property maintenance.
• Volunteering to assist neighbors with property maintenance.
• Holding regular neighborhood cleanup efforts.
• Forming a Neighborhood Watch organization to help reduce crime.
Why Should Your Neighborhood Have an Association?
Neighborhood Associations Build Relationships
A neighborhood association is one of the best ways to build relationships between neighbors. Residents of a neighborhood may go years without knowing neighbors two doors away. A spirit of warmth and friendliness can be generated through the formation of an association. Also, neighbors become familiar with each other’s needs and interests and become more supportive in problem-solving.
Create an Organized, Unified Voice
Through a neighborhood association your neighborhood has a unified voice in city government. The services that the city of Clearwater can provide to your neighborhood can be accessed efficiently through an association. Information on city services can also be provided to a greater number of neighbors, resulting in a benefit to the neighborhood as a whole.
Create an Organized, Unified Voice
If your neighborhood needs improvements, local residents are the best resources to help initiate change. Neighborhood associations are a great resource for residents to start projects to develop neighborhood beautification and improvement programs.
How to Form a Neighborhood Association
Create an Organized, Unified Voice
Start your neighborhood association by finding a core group of people who agree to meet regularly. Ask some neighbors you already know. Then knock on the doors of some you don’t know and explain why you want to form a neighborhood association. When you find five to 10 people who are interested, schedule a meeting at a resident’s home, a nearby school, neighborhood church or other central location. It’s a good idea to set up the initial meeting quickly before people lose interest.
Each member of the neighborhood association should:
- Try to attend every meeting.
- Use agreed-upon procedures at meetings.
- Treat other members with respect.
- Accept group decisions after a vote has been taken.
- Act for the benefit of the group.
- Be polite and make constructive comments.
- Discuss issues and concerns, not personalities.
Set the neighborhood boundaries
It’s important to determine the boundaries of your neighborhood association. Boundaries might be roads, natural
features such as canals, residences within a certain distance of a school or church or houses built in a certain
style. You might want to look at a city map and take a tour of the neighborhood to help you set the boundaries.
Call the city’s Planning and Development Department to see if your boundaries include any existing neighborhood
associations. Your neighborhood may want to merge groups or work as partners on common problems.
Once you have established the boundaries, develop a list of residents and property owners. This will help you get
other neighbors involved in your association and its activities. You may need to go door to door to create this list.
You may also get information by calling the city’s Planning and Development Department at 562-4567.
group should define the goals and objectives of the committees and decide the rules members will follow. The
goals of the association will help determine what kind and how many committees to create.
Some examples of designated committees include:
- Beautification Committee
- Publicity Committee
- Youth Involvement Committee
- Government Liaisons
- Crime Reduction Committee
- Welcoming Committee
- Neighborhood Events Committee
- Business Liaisons
How to Hold and Organize Neighborhood Meetings
Communication Fosters Neighborhood Involvement
Communication is very important to the success of your association. Sharing information is a great way to build a sense of community in your neighborhood, get to know your neighbors and enlist support for your events and programs.
Ideas for promoting neighborhood meetings:
- Publish a neighborhood association newsletter four to 12 times a year.
- Team up with a nearby association to share the cost and work.
- Distribute fliers door to door. Distribute a neighborhood survey (and the results) by email,
mail, phone or door to door.
- Ask permission to place notices, posters or fliers in laundromats, libraries, supermarkets and
local businesses, etc.
- Set up a telephone tree and develop an email contact list.
- Develop a neighborhood website or social media page on Facebook or Nextdoor.
Plan the Meeting
People will more likely attend meetings if they are organized, brief, useful and in a convenient location. Set the time, date and location by consulting with the core group of members. Try to keep meetings to one hour in length. Select a place that is centrally located and familiar to your neighbors such as a home, school, church or public building, and then remind them of the time and date by phone, email or flier. Before the meeting begins, arrange the tables and chairs and place any handouts near the entrance of the room. Allow time for neighbors to introduce themselves. Be sure to test any equipment such as projectors or computers before the meeting starts.
Establish Meeting Agendas
All meetings should have an agenda. The agenda lists what will happen at the meeting, including committee reports and any business that needs to be discussed. The president and secretary are responsible for preparing the agenda. An agenda is important because it:
- Serves as a guide.
- Ensures important issues are not overlooked.
- Gives neighbors a chance to prepare for discussions.
To prepare an agenda:
- Check the minutes of the last meetings. Note any unfinished business.
- Include the committee chairman or chairwoman, special meeting guests and members who are to make reports.
- Check on all new business, which has come up since the last meeting.
Recruiting Neighborhood Association Leadership
Part of the job of a neighborhood organizer is to identify and develop neighborhood leaders. People in leadership positions are responsible for coordinating the activities of a group, including activities designed to help the groups achieve goals and feel good about working together.
A leadership position within a neighborhood association is a serious commitment. A leader impacts the association and the neighborhood. A neighborhood leader needs to have the vision and the ability to build consensus, to delegate duties and authority to others and to encourage neighbor involvement and maximize talent. A leader helps the association cultivate future leaders. A good leader recognizes the value in changing leadership. The task of recruiting and developing leaders should be an ongoing activity for all members of the neighborhood association. Sometimes leaders are reluctant to share authority or delegate responsibility. Part of being a good leader is helping others grow into leadership roles.
Developing Neighborhood Association Leaders
- Search for many potential leaders, not just one or two.
- Encourage people to switch tasks and discover their strengths.
- Remind members to be open to change and bring in new members and leaders.
- Encourage people to communicate in a positive and productive manner.
- Delegate responsibility. Match members’ personal needs with the needs of the group.
- Break big jobs into small parts and assign to different people.
- Focus on goals and achievements, not personalities.
What are the Duties and Responsibilities of Association Officers?
- Chief executive officer of the association.
- Assumes general charge of the day-to-day administration of the association.
- Presides at all meetings.
- Reserves the authority to authorize specific actions in promoting the board’s policies.
- Performs the duties of the president in the absence of the president.
- Serves on the association’s executive committee.
- Coordinates with the committee chairman or chairwoman and reports the status to the board.
- Assumes duties as defined by the president.
- Maintains the association’s records.
- Takes minutes of meetings and keeps a permanent, accurate record.
- Prepares written minutes for the board of directors and reads the minutes at meetings.
- Receives and handles all correspondence addressed to the association.
- Keeps accounts of all expenses, upon authorization of the board.
- Collects membership dues.
- Presents a written report each month to the board of directors and/or association.
Building Relationships and Strengthening Your Association
Consensus building is a process in which groups of people who disagree are encouraged to share information and negotiate to reach the goals of the association. Under consensus building, an entire neighborhood association considers the issues on the basis of reason and discussion.
Each member expresses a view and a decision is made that all can commit to, instead of a few or a majority. The consensus building process encourages everyone to participate.
When Members Disagree
Neighborhood associations, like any group of people, can encounter problems with personality conflicts, leadership issues and burnout. When problems occur, encourage open and respectful discussion among association members. One way to avoid conflict is to invest time in consensus building before key votes are taken.
Tips for Handling Disagreements
- Seek to fully understand opposing viewpoints.
- Resist an immediate response. Don’t strike out immediately to oppose or take sides.
- When conflict becomes intense and emotions strong, sometimes a break is helpful to allow emotions to cool.
- Define and agree on the problem.
- Focus on the most significant issues of the conflict.
- Focus on issues, not people.
- Find common ground on which you can agree.
Expanding and Maintaining Membership
Keeping the interest and involvement of neighbors in an association is an ongoing challenge in every
neighborhood. Here are some pointers and ideas that hopefully will stimulate other ideas:
- Be realistic in your expectation of the members. Many neighbors have other priorities that may limit
- Stay focused on a few well-defined goals or projects. Identify individual and/or committee responsibilities.
- Celebrate each success, even if it means doing it one step at a time.
- Ask specific neighbors for help or their involvement. Sometimes all it takes is asking a neighbor to do something. They may be willing if asked, but may not volunteer or speak up when an “all call” for help is issued.
- Find out what is important to your members and try to get them involved in committees or projects involving their interest.
- Make sure to welcome new neighbors. Many communities have a welcoming committee that visits or calls each new resident.
- Organize a social function by delegating the event to a special committee. Sponsor cleanup days. Take one street at a time so that the work is manageable and can be accomplished in a reasonable time.
- Create a telephone chain, social media site, email list or other communication system that makes it possible for the association to keep the membership informed.
- Recognize volunteers. Thank a specific person or persons at a general meeting, acknowledge someone's efforts in your neighborhood association newsletter or website or prepare a meal or dessert for the volunteer neighbor.
The Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition is an organization made up of Clearwater neighborhood, civic and homeowner associations serving to inform Clearwater residents. Learn more about the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition by visiting clearwatercoalition.org.
The city of Clearwater appreciates your involvement and effort. Together we can improve the quality of life for all Clearwater residents.
For additional information, contact: Neighborhood Assistance or call 727.562.4559