Box 22, Folder 17, Document 27

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Box 22, Folder 17, Document 27

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PLANNING FOR NEIGHBORHOCD PROGRAMS

Introduction -

A feichborhood program will ordinarily be one part of a larger eiiys
wide community action program. Thus questions must be asked about the
city at large and the whole community action planning, along with an
inquiry into the neighborhood program itself,

Funds are likely to be limited so that in most cases a choice of some
neighborhoods must be made, either to start the city's program or to be
used as a “demonstration.” 7

At the outset, reasons for preferring certain neighborhoods over others
should be explored. In some cities past social disturbences or chronic
trouble may dictate the choice of a neighborhood for concerted soetan
effort. There is a caveat: A ape may prefer to choose neighborhceds
with problems that can be dealt with rather quickly tecause success will
be more certain and visible. Unfavorable comparisons should not be made
once programs are initiatea between the more easily solved neighborhood:
problems and the knottier ones. The preference of one kind of neighbor-
hood over another may result from wise and responsible political decision,
but the basis for decisions should be indeveeoed both by the community and
by the federal agencies. | oe A te

In the attached outline we have asked a series of questions designed
‘to offer some guides for those evaluating neighborhood programs. Because
these programs are so frankly experimental, no such outline can provide

more than a general approach. More reliable criteria will emerge from

concrete experience with actual programs, their inevitable failures and

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A detailed knowledge of the city, the sponsors, and the over-all
political context will be necessary for judguént in each case. Still,
it may be a useful exercise to try to articulate in advance some of the .
factors that should enter into evaluation, even though judgments are
likely to be intuitive.

The discussion that follows is aividea into two parts: (1) criteria
for defining the appropriate neighborhood; and (2) criteria for judging
the substance of programs for a neighborhood,

It is not inappropriate to point out that some decisions to accept or
reject a proposal for neighborhood programs must be made on & primarily
political basis. The Federal program needs Congressional support and it
needs the support of all the traditional agencies in the Executive bvench
with which it must cooperate, Further, the over-all political situation
of any city is an essential ingredient in the success or failure of a
community action proErai and of the neighborhood program which is its
natural offspring. This point is probably understood, if not articulated,
by applicants and evaluators alike.

The forms to be filled out for the Dept. of Housing &/ Urban Development may ~
set up standards and expectations, but they are not like aptitude tests.

A high score does not imply automatic admission to "school." As long as

_ funds are insufficient to permit every sound program to be accepted, it

should be understood that choices involve a variety of factors, not the
least of which is political.

There is another risk. The existence of complicated forms, the pro-

ry: mulgation of standards and the common knowledge that choices have to be




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made, may lead cities to imitate slavishly the type of programs that have
been accepted before. This could lead to rigidity -- a calcification
which is the enemy of innovation and imaginative use of these special local

characteristics of a city and neighborhood,
Neighborhood

The limited experience thus far with community action nog and
the longer history of settlement houses have led those working with ores
blems of organization to insist upon 2 small local area as the lowest
Dinolt denominator for any new weet programs, The word "neighborhood"
is used to mean a relatively compact geographical area and also an area
which has some sort of functional cohesiveness. Before the concept of
neighborhood program becomes a cliche’ easily glossed over, it may be
important to ask some questions about what may or may not be defined as

"neighborhood" and for what purposes.

Reaching out:
It is fairly well accepted now that any program of social action must

. be broken down into local units so that it can reach out to those people

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"who are unwilling or unable to go very far for service, either because

of fear, inexperience or lack of basic skills to make use of available
services, on their own. Thus the very first criterion of any neighbor-

hood program is that it be sufficiently local to achieve this end.
Elasticity:
The kind of services offered, and the characteristics of the people

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served will affect the definition of "aeighborhood."” For example, a
mother with a small child has a far greater physical-geographical limi-

tation than does an adolescent who is used to wandering the city with a

gang. Could you serve them both in a neighbor center? The unit for phys=

ical health care might be quite different from the unit for mental health

care, in part because of the degree of education needed before the patient

wants the services offered. A context of multiple services, or even ser-
vices to a wide age range, indicates both elasticity of the concept of
neighborhood and the arbitrariness of any definition. The very fact that
one center may offer a multiplicity of services will also affect the
delineation of "neighborhood." Even a single person ay define his neigh-
_ borhood very differently for different purposes me church, school, or

socializing, for example. The situation becomes infinitely more compli-
A neighborhood may exist because of preexisting services or grouping
of services, for example, an effectively functioning settlement house with
_@ long tradition, as in the North End, Boston, or a clinic, The Peckham
Health Center in Imgland created a very cohesive neighborhood for many
purposes. A preexisting sense of community often grows up because of

\ ethnic similarities or racial isolation.

The sense of community, however, may be a deceptive factor on which to

rely. An effective preexisting service may provide a community on which
' broader services can be built and should be built. On the other hand,

. the invisible walls which create a ghetto like Harlem, create a “community

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into very small units to penetrate resistance that the dergar community
reinforces. In other words, 2 neighborhood has to be a manageable unit.
If there had been trouble, hostility, delinquency or a high crime rate,
the negative aspect of a community may argue for the arbitrary creation
of very small neighborhocd units for certain kinds of services, in order

that the population can really be reached and involved.

Use of Personnel Affects Delineation of a Neighborhood
The availability and training of the personnel to staff a neighbor-
hood program will affect the parameters of a neighborhood unit. More

is meant here than the ratio of professionals to "client." It goes with-

. out saying that one doctor in a clinic will serve a far smaller population

than ten. But personnel can be important in a qualitative sense, as well.
‘The supporting worker can gerie aa commective tissue among professional
services. This is the worker who knows the language of the neieiborhecd
and who is able to direct the people in it to needed mexvices, provide
follow-up, and help the person coordinate the various services that may
be assenbled to meet his particular needs, whether welfare, medical,
educational, or employment, or a combination of any or all of these, in
any problem or crisis. Such personnel make up a psychological teanspore
tation and communication system. An example may make this more concrete;
A store-front room may serve a block. In it may be neighborhood workers
or urban agents who can take information from those on the block and steer
them to adult education, employment training, work crews, mental health

clinic, the hospital, a local lawyer, the housing authority, etc. AlL

—- +--+ Of these services need not be represented in the store-front room, but.



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they must be made accessible by effective workers who can communicate
with the paonie’ tha rproarals is designed to serve. The urban agent be-
comes a pathfinder for the individual in need, to all the agencies and
services required. Thus the concept of "neighborhood" is in part defined
by the kind of staff available, because those who help people find their
way through a labyrinth of services make the programs really sdoesetblacn

Actual transportation is of great importance, since the inability to
find one's way is 25 characteristic of the-poor, Their neighborhood, for
many purposes, is walking radius. Here again workers can help make exis-
ting transportation usable ena tharty make far-flung programs accessible
to a neighborhood.

We have stated earlier that Ons varient of the definition of neigh-
borhood is the kind of service that is offered. We are assuming that one
goal is comprehensiveness - thavePfering of a group of interrelated human
services that will raise the aspirations and the opportunities of the
people to be served. It is understood, then, that different services
will serve different geographical areas. As pointed out, the sunt
common denominator may have to be the workers who can link physically .
separated services.

But this is only one alternative. There are others. For example, the
creation of a new institution designed to have such great impact that it
defines the neighborhood. Consider the Comin’ ty School as it exists in
New Haven, Connecticut, and Flint, Michigan. They draw upon the neighbor-
hood of the families whose children attend the school, In New Haven,

Conte School is made as attractive with a center for senior citizens,

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an auditorium, bocci courts, a park for young mothers, and so on = that

@ sense of community is created by the very fact of the institution.

Other neighborhood services, legal, public health, welfare, etc., are then
brought in to this "neighborhood." Other kinds of institutions may define
the neighborhood by their creation, Probably this is what the multi-
service center in Boston (Roxbury) is attempting to ne In such cases

the neighborhood is geographically larger than that served by the block

store-front with the "pathfinder" personnel, With a lerge center, staff

may literally walk the streets to bring the people to the services con-

centrated in one building.. There is no a priori reason to prepa one
structure of a neighborhood program over the other.

So many neighborhoods are natural neighborhoods, defined by geography,
tradition, or other boundaries that they can be seen quite readily. In
the end, high deference should be given to the local definition of a .
neighborhood. However, the Office of Economic Opportunity can and should
insist that the city consider the many variables, including history and
tradition, which go into the delineation of a neighborhood unit. | It
should ask for careful consideration of demographic data, for detail
about the ethnic background of the people in the neighborhood, the eco-
nomic and educational level, employment opportunities, housing, recreation
and social outlets. A well-thought out proposal is likely to be rich in

this kind of detail.




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THE PROGRAM

The substance of the program is no less important than the delination
of the neighborhood, and must be adapted to this delineation.

The first overall requirement for any progrem is the tnyatponans let
the people to be served in the planning and then the operation of the
programs designed to serve then.

It is not easy to involve the inarticulate poor, for whom organization
is not a familiar phenomenon, but it is possible and it is essential. One
clear goal must be to reduce dependency in all areas, not to increase it,
This means that any "tender plant" of a neigaborhood. organization must
be built upon -- any indigenous leadership that is at all éonabrudtave
must be involved in the planning process.

: A list of needs outlined in the program planning stage, health,
educaticn, Sebaccetes should indicate how these needs are felt by tue
population, It is difficult to establish criteria from Washington to
assure this, but there must be some warning signal of local indifference
to neighborhood participation in a program. Furthermore, it is so in-
portant that if there is any doubt, a field trip might be worthwhile.

We can anticipate antipathy and resistance to the organization and voice
of the poor.. But these are risks that must be. accepted as natural and

inevitable and perhaps even welcomed as evidence of involvement.

Survey of Existing Services



A proposal should include a survey of existing social services and

education, including, if possible, cost statistics and the ratio of

professional and supportive personnel to the neighborhood population. © It
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would be useful to learn how accessible existing services are which reach

the segnents of the neighborhood population. Is the new plan going to

‘ build on preexisting services, and if not, why not" Often there are gocd

reasons, but as often, a natural center for people, for example, a priest
whose church has become a focus for informal social services, may be

ignored and a new artificial center created,

Relations with Existing Agencies

In some cases there may be value in by-passing existing social service
agencies. In’ other cases this may be politically unwise or umwise because
of the strength of an agency. In the case of a strong well-supported
agency, it is entirely possible that a neighborhood program should devel-
op from one discipline or area OF Servaces For example, if the Board of
Education were strong and innovative, the idea of a community school
might be the basis for the neighborhood program and education would then
be the nucleus. If there were already. a community mental health. center
with local support, mental health could’ be the nucleus of the community —
action program. Thus, in the Bronx, New York, a community action pro-
gram is emerging from @ mental health center out of the Albert Einstein
Medical School (Dr. Harris Peck). Im other cities, the Youth Exployment,
or Opportunity Center has already become a familiar and accepted part of
neighborhood and so a comprehensive program emerges with the employment
or job training at its core. The judgment probably should be made “on
the ground."

Although comprehensiveness of services may be the goal, it is entirely

*




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social reasons, a simpler or even segmentalized program should be created.
In other words, a city might want to start with health and education only,
and slowly add employment and wavheee much daterideat with teenage recre-
ation. Or, there may be an assault on the problem of teenage delinquency
which required an across-the-board approach directed to that age group
only, leaving families and senior citizens for later. It is possible to
choose to work only with the families of very young children or those
children themselves, on the theory that the very young are the most sal-
vageeble part of the population,

The reasons behind any of these or cther choices.may have validity, in
terms of short end medium range strategy, but theymust not become the
excuse for abandoning the objective of a comprehensive program.

The planned use of staff, including provision for training should be
examined carefully. To what extent does a neighborhood progran plan to
search out indigenous workers, to what extent rely on outsiders? How
have connecting links to outside services been planned? Are they suffi-
cient to make all of the services truly accessible to the population of

“the neighborhood? > eo STE

Some provision should be made for working out a relationship of coop=
eration and connection among the traditional agencies and institutions
which will either work with, control in part, or impede a neighborhood
program, Friction may be inevitable, but its destructive aspect should
be minimized at the planning stage. Avery current example of this is the

creation of neighborhood legal services in New Haven and in Washington,

“D6. In New Haven, at present, there is serious opposition from the ~

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organized bar which has slowed down the program seriously. In Washington,

the Bar Association and Legal Aid were involved at each step of planning

and have thus far given strong support. Including the traditional service

agencies in the planning process as much as possible and drawing upon their
skill and experience may substitute cooperation for friction.

The interrelationship of citywide or even state agencies is a question
more directly related to the evaluation of an entire community action pro=
gram then for judging the specifics of the neighborhood proposal.

Also a larger matter is the area of the whole question of ingormation
gathering and disseminating devices, commento: data and collection,
both formal and informal. There are more ways of assuring effective con=
munication than can be listed here. Citywide newspaper coverage, radio,
TV, are the ones first considered., The functional illiteracy of many of
‘the people who most need to be reached means that person-to-person ‘com-
munication, and contact through the places most frequented, whether bar or
church, is the basis for an effective communications network that ought

to be in every neighborhood picture.

After a prorat has been Accepted

The style of initiation of a program is something that should be re-
garded with great interest. In some situations a quiet launching might
be preferable to one with fanfare, Crisis exploitation, crisis creation, .
and timing must all be considered. |

We would want to know early what obstacles are anticipated and which

obstacles are in fact faced. Tlliteracy, lack of social cohesiveness, and

_apathy may be prevalent almost every place that a program is contemplated.




What are the pias to deal with them? How are some of these obstacles
considered in the attempt to involve the Hat etborioed in planning its own
program? ;

It is hard to anticipate whether a program will become rigid or calci-
fied. We have already indicated the possibility that application forms,
or rumors of hard choices among cities, may cause a proposing community
to teke a "safe route." If it is made clear from the outset that all of
these programs are frankly experimental and that innovation is desired and
that constant feedback and evaluation, as well as program initiative at
lower S ovais fore desirable, rigidity may be avoided in many places.

There should be mechanisms for anticipating crisis or resistance that
may come from the mobilization of a neighborhood, Program efrectiveness
often means the assertion or creation of 2 political force which will be
fought. There are ways to lay the ground for significant changes, al-
though resistance or even outcry may be inevitable. The situation of the

rent strikes in Mobilization for Youth and the political repercussions,

raise the question of what kind of preparation might be most effective.

Evaluation

Plens for evaluating a neighborhocd proposal must be built into the
proposal from the beginning, This is a subject for another document.
The whole area or community action is too new for us to be aware in ade
vance of the many causes of lags in progréss or even failure. Feedback
must be rapid and constant.

We would want to know who is evaluating the neighborhood program and

against what criteria. Is it part of a larger evaluation scheme of a |

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citywide community action program? Are there any plans to test theories
and conclusions against other neighborhood programs in the same and other
cities? |

| Long-range goals should be broken down into sequential steps. Fach
must have a planning period beyond the first allocation of funds. But
detailed plans should be worked out at shorter intabvats than overall plans
and broken down in such a way that parts of a program can be looked at
separately fron other parts of the overall structure. We would want to
Know how often, what kind, and to whom reports are made; how much personal
contact is there by the evaluators; how are they treated at progran heads
quarters, - ignored, exploited or self-supported? Ape periodic reviews

carried out?
7
Are the goals sufficiently formulated in the beginning so that we could

ask later on whether the plans were fulfilled? Whether they were anended?
How recent and how severe and how frequent were the shépdinente’: We would
want to know whether the evaluation is set up in such a way that side
effects could be anticipated or observed, if they occurred.
We would be loath te set up any machanical criteria for judging the

_ effectiveness of a comprehensive neighborhood program. There are some, of
course, each with some limited value. For example, the concept of in-
ereasing life-long earning power, or, @ reduction in unemployment, the
increase of staying power (retention) of young people in high school bebe
outs, in illegitimate births, lowering crime rate, family break-up, age
pital admission, ana so on. Probably all of these statistical measures

cation eee must be enployed, but each: should be. looked at quantitatively to see
14

whether, in fact, it tests the social condition we think it does. For ex-

emple, an increase in employment is a good thing, but if. the Negroes
continue to hold only menial, lower paid jobs, the. employment program is

mo success.

If our goal is the fullest development of the resources and capacities

of each human being, then we will not be satisfied with any simple statis-
tical measures, These will be only our mechanical starting points. The

aspirations of any neighborhood program should escalate with success.

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