A resident association is a group of neighbors who get together, share their ideas, thoughts, feelings and work cooperatively to make their neighborhood a better place to live. Before you ask your neighbors to organize, you have to convince them of the benefits of forming such neighborhood association. Having a recognized neighborhood will give you a voice and an advocate.
Neighborhood associations greatly improve the two-way communication between the city and its residents. Your neighborhood will have a clear, organized way to speak to city government with a guarantee you will be heard. You will have a tool for relating directly to both your elected local leaders and the county government. This increased communication can be a resource for upcoming meetings or other community opportunities that may benefit you and your neighborhood. Moreover, you will be put in touch with your neighbors, people who share your fondness for and frustrations of your area.
When does a neighborhood need to develop a resident association? Various issues help a neighborhood to acquire a sense of identity and feel a need to organize and develop a neighborhood association; for example:
- Land use issues (location of a new school, shopping center, library, highway, etc.)
- Neighborhood improvements (additional street signs or lights, repair of a sidewalk).
- Urban design issues (developing of architectural themes for public & recreational spaces).
- Dealing with crime and other disturbances.
Before organizing a new neighborhood association, check for existing associations in and around your area.
To discover the names and boundaries of existing associations and contact information within these organizations, check with The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) at 254-020-3873828. KARA is the umbrella body that represents the voice of residents associations across the country. If there is an active resident association in your area, consider joining it!
If you and your neighbors decide to organize your own neighborhood association, consider the following:
- Identify meeting time and place for the first organizational meeting.
- Widely distribute information throughout the neighborhood about the new association’s first meeting.
- Include everyone living or owning property within the association’s boundaries as a potential member.
- Keep everyone informed about association activities. A newsletter or a Web site are two ways to inform your neighborhood about the association’s activities.
It is also important to remember the organizational structure that works for your neighborhood now may change in the future. Resident associations change over time as they grow, mature and respond to the needs of their members.
To bring together a quite diverse group of people to reach a common goal is a difficult task. To get started, you will need to form a small group of committed neighbors who share your aspiration to form a neighborhood association. This small group of individuals is referred to as the core group. Members of the core group should share a common vision regarding important issues affecting the neighborhood. Be sure to keep the size of the core group at ten or less people. If the core group gets too large, it will become unmanageable and result in low productivity.
Who should be a part of your core group? People whose views are respected by other members of the community:
- Business owners
- Apartment residents, managers, owners
- Church leaders
- School teachers or administrators
Once the members of the core group have been identified and a meeting time and place have been established, develop a well-planned agenda for the first meeting. Nobody likes to attend meetings that are unproductive and a waste of time. During this initial meeting the core group will need to:
- Determine the boundaries of the neighborhood.
- Develop a complete list of neighborhood residents.
- Discuss each person’s ideas concerning the problems and needs of the neighborhood.
- Discuss goals, projects and concerns.
- Discuss strategies to achieve common goals.
- Identify current and potential leaders.
- Determine special skills, talents and willingness to participate.
- Determine a convenient time and location for members to attend meetings.
- Determine how frequently members would like to meet.
The core group has to meet several times before it will be ready to hold meeting with the entire neighborhood. Once the entire neighborhood is involved the core group should continue meeting as an advisory board for the newly formed resident association.
For more information on resident associations’ formation, contact KARA: