How to Start a Neighborhood Association
The function of a Neighborhood Association is simple: to promote strong neighborhoods and relationships. If your neighborhood currently does not have an association, and you'd like to create one, we have some simple steps to get started.
Why Start a Neighborhood Association?
- Get to know your neighbors
- Solve problems together
- Raise the level of property maintenance
- Establish better communication with neighbors
- Work closely and more effectively with municipal services
- Promote pride in your neighborhood
- Create a safer living environment
How to Get Started
Here are some helpful tips on first steps to take when starting a neighborhood association.
Organize a Core Group
This should be made up of a manageable number of people to advise and make decisions during the formation of the group and beyond. Be sure to include people with a variety of different backgrounds. Each person in this group will have a different task. to perform to help the overall success of the organization.
Some areas to consider:
- Someone designated to promoting the organization
- Someone designated to recruit members to the organization
- Someone to do in-depth research for any issues identified
Identify your Neighborhood's Primary Concerns, Issues, Needs, and Goals
If there is a certain problem you aim to fix, or maybe you want to create a sense of unity - there is no wrong reason to form a neighborhood association! Do a deep dive into the history of any issues...
Identify your Neighborhood's Boundaries
Roads, rivers, railroad tracks, and other easily identifiable landmarks are best to use. Refer to our Active Neighborhood Associations Map to see what areas are currently encompassed by a neighborhood association.
Publicize your Association
Decide who you want to tell about your new organization such as community newspapers, local government, churches, and other neighborhood groups. Create a list with contact names, phone numbers and email addresses and designate who in the Core Group should be in charge of this task.
Plan the First General Meeting
Once the Core Group has researched issues, recruitment has started, and the public is aware of your organization, choose a date, time, and location that works for the majority of your members. Typically, weeknights work best. Schools, public libraries, churches, and community centers make great locations for the meeting and will often be free of charge. This first general meeting is very important in that its job is to lay the foundation for the organization. You should come out of this meeting with an agreement on goals and the issues that the organization will take on.
Tips for the Meeting
- Be prepared for a big meeting with lots of discussion and more ideas than you might have expected.
- Be prepared for a small meeting—low attendance is common for new organizations and if this happens, stay positive and enlist the energies of everyone who does show up.
- All ideas should be given fair consideration
- Everyone needs to be treated with respect.
- No one should leave the meeting without a task, even if it is simple.
- Everyone should sign in. Collect as much contact information as possible, including email.
Create an Agenda
Below is a framework for what your agenda might look like at this first meeting.
- Introduction: Introduce the core group and explain the purpose of the meeting. Also, everyone attending should introduce themselves and share where they live and what they would like to see happen in the neighborhood.
- Discuss the Issues: Everyone attending should have a chance to voice their opinion and make suggestions. Be sure to limit each person’s time, so as not to bog down at this point.
- Set Priorities: Based on the issues discussed, prioritize one or two areas of interest and create projects.
- Create Tasks: Break your project ideas down into a series of tasks and assign volunteers. If the work involves a lot of people, create a committee and assign a head.
- Create the Organization Structure: You will need to create a name and create a leadership team (ask those in attendance to approve the core group as a steering committee until elections are held). Rules for operation and elections can either be adopted at the first meeting or put off until the organization has more experience. Some groups may choose to not have a formal structure, and never elect officials.
- Set a date for the Next Meeting: It is essential to agree on a date and time for the next meeting before adjourning.
Get the Word Out
Now that you have done all the ground work for the first meeting, you need to publicize the event in a way to ensure the highest participation possible. Below are some tips to ensure high attendance:
- Create meeting announcement flyers which include time, date, and place.
- Distribute to as many places as possible such as: apartment building lobbies, grocery store bulletin boards, churches, schools, and public online forums such as Neighborhood Link.
- Contact the City of Beaumont Executive Office so they can inform your City Council representative.
- Contact the Beaumont Police Department COP (Citizens on Patrol) at 409-880-3802 to request that a Citizen on Patrol officer attend your meeting.
- Take your flyers door-to-door and canvass the neighborhood or block you are organizing.
- Request articles in local papers announcing the meeting. Many newspapers have local sections dedicated to neighborhoods and this is just the kind of news they are looking for.