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NCLB Implementation Guide

Neighbourhood Restoration


Neighbourhood restoration is the fourth major component of No Community Left Behind process. It focuses on revitalizing designated neighbourhoods by leveraging local, provincial and private sector  resources. Restoring a neighbourhood can be a complex and often long-term, ongoing process. This part highlights the steps taken in implementing a neighbourhood restoration plan that encourages the leveraging of key resources at all levels to maximize the impact on the designated neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood restoration is about more than physical buildings — it is about restoring the human capital in a neighbourhood by providing tools to help community members secure livable-wage employment, live in a decent crime free environment and start new businesses. It recognizes the needs of both the young and the not so young. Youth activities in safe parks, senior housing and services, and increased medical and social services treat many community ills.

One may feel that the scope of intervention is getting broad. However, a comprehensive long-term solution requires the process to be comprehensive. For example, it is naïve to expect long-term solutions without assisting the communities in establishing home-based businesses without proper licenses. These could eventually lead to storefronts in the community. Programs could be developed for encouraging community members to save their money and provide matching funds that can be used to buy a new home, start a business, or complete an education. Training programs that provide community members with increased technology skills enable them to secure higher paying jobs. Some programs could help community members correct their credit problems and prepare them for owning their own home.

All the components mentioned so far for correctional purposes lay the foundation for community restoration. Any effort to rid a community of negative elements brings positive resources and the physical assets needed to revitalize the community. Changes in population, economic or physical conditions and social attitudes, all affect neighbourhoods in complex ways. Many such changes are dictated by decisions made at the local government level — which is why NCLB is an ideal strategy for improving neighbourhoods in distress. Working in collaboration with city and central government agencies, the NCLB process brings community stakeholders together to leverage their collective resources and achieve the restoration goals for the NCLB.

Phase 5 of the NCLB process describes the steps required to develop a local No Community Left Behind strategy. The initial strategy results from analyzing needs and available resources and, once implemented, provides a safer, more stable community environment that promotes restoration. Neighbourhood restoration offers community members the opportunity to literally see improvements in their community.

It does more than just inject new programs into a community. Neighbourhood restoration is self-defining: The process originates from and is sustained by the actions and choices of those living and working in the neighbourhood. The restoration process reflects the needs of the entire community, not just the opinion of community representatives on the Steering Committee. Neighbourhood restoration is a long-term strategy.

Restoring a neighbourhood begins with a vision of how the community should look like and what the partners can offer to the community members. The restoration process begins with taking stock of what in the community can be developed, who can be recruited, and what can be secured and what needs to be replaced by positive, community-benefiting enterprises. This is not an easy task to achieve. However, success will stem from incremental steps and small accomplishments.

Implementation Process

Restoration goals and objectives may have to be revisited for appropriateness after the local No Community Left Behind process’s first-phase strategy is under way. A review is necessary because initial stabilization efforts may not work exactly as planned, and restoration strategies do not work in a high-crime neighbourhood.

Although the Steering Committee can identify basic restoration issues with help from the city planning office, specific details and timing are coordinated with neighbourhood community members. Making restoration plans that contradict community expectations and values can hinder the process and undermine stabilization efforts. Restoration designed without resident input can produce negative effects within the community and unintentionally accelerate decline.

Not all Steering Committee members are community development experts, and it is unrealistic to try to execute comprehensive projects without sufficient expertise on board. In addition, neighbourhood restoration is one of the components of NCLB that allow community members to become actively involved in the transformation of their neighbourhood through a series of low-cost or no-cost activities.

In developing an implementation plan for neighbourhood restoration, the following steps are taken.

Step 1:         Creating a Subcommittee
The creation of a subcommittee on neighbourhood restoration is key to involving community members and other community stakeholders in an organized restoration process. Although several local community organizations may exist, they often focus solely on providing a specific service to community members and do not examine how they can all work together and leverage their resources. This does not mean that they are not interested. Often, they just need to be brought together to address a common purpose. The subcommittee unites the groups.

The subcommittee could include representatives from the Steering Committee and from community organizations that are not Steering Committee members but have an interest or expertise consistent with neighbourhood restoration. Community members are generally interested in this type of committee, as are community development corporations, community action agencies, government agencies, financial institutions, foundations and small businesses.

Organizations that might have an interest in participating on this subcommittee are listed and contacted. It is important to remember that individuals who agree to serve on the subcommittee must understand that their participation is voluntary and that their organization or agency does not receive funds. Also, the sub-committee ensures that its members have the time to attend meetings.

The NCLB Steering Committee promotes restoration plan development by enlisting professional help for the plan’s design, targeting local resources and soliciting cooperation that augments local plans.

Step 2:         Revisiting the Needs Assessment
Conducted for the Neighbourhood

One of the benefits of conducting a needs assessment in the beginning is that the priorities thus identified help formulate goals for each of the four NCLB components. Because much of the assessment may focus on the economic conditions of a target area, this information serves as a basis for creating neighbourhood restoration goals. In a subcommittee planning session, the group examines these issues and determines what role it can play in addressing each of them.

Step 3:         Formulating Goals and Objectives
Once the subcommittee identifies local issues, it formulates goals and objectives and focus on how these goals and objectives will be met. Some goals are directed at stabilizing the community and some at restoring it. Subcommittee members consider activities or tasks that yield both short- and long-term results.

Community members often get frustrated with initiatives that start out strong and end up poorly. Similarly, they look for immediate evidence of the NCLB’s positive investment in their community. Short-term activities to produce visible results include activities such as conducting neighbourhood cleanups and allocating special days for graffiti removal — activities that community members can see, participate in and benefit from.

Long-term neighbourhood restoration challenges include reducing unemployment, encouraging more business startups and upgrading living conditions in the neighbourhood.

Step 4:         Developing Activities to Achieve
Goals and Objectives

After formulating goals and objectives, the sub-committee identifies relevant activities to emphasize serving community members and the overall neighbourhood. These activities may require a series of partners, both internal and external to the community. The following are examples of activities undertaken elsewhere that can help restore the economic health of the community:

  1. Reducing unemployment. Convening weekend job fairs at area schools with area employers and employment assistance organizations to provide information on jobs and job assistance programs;
  2. Increasing the level of resident business development. Working with concerned institutions to conduct workshops on how to start a business;
  3. Increasing the number of homeowners. Issues such as poor credit, savings and investments need to be addressed; homeowner classes could be offered as the number of employed persons increases. Local organizations could partner with the NCLB to offer classes on one or more of these topics.

In each of these examples, the subcommittee does not take the lead role but rather facilitates the implementation of these strategies by encouraging collaboration among organizations (public and private) that have the resources and expertise to deliver the services.

Step 5:         Securing Approval From the
Steering Committee

After the implementation plan is developed, it is submitted to the Steering Committee for approval — an important process because it provides additional opportunities for community members and other stakeholders to provide input on the plan and on how the activities described in the plan complement the activities of the other components of the No Community Left Behind strategy.

The Coordinator is responsible for scheduling activities to ensure minimal duplication of events that target community members for participation. The Steering Committee has the ultimate responsibility for monitoring the entire site plan; however, the Neighbourhood Restoration Subcommittee is directly responsible for the implementation of neighbourhood restoration activities. The progress of planned activities is reported to the Steering Committee on a regular basis. No component of the NCLB is more important than another. Communication between the subcommittee and the Steering Committee not only ensures successful implementation of the No Community Left Behind strategy but also permits a maximum of resources to support each of the planned activities.

Step 6:         Adjusting the Goals, Objectives or Activities
After formulating goals and objectives and beginning the implementation activities, an evaluation is conducted for necessary adjustments to unforeseen challenges.

Initial goals may turn out to conflict with other community activities, or the support needed from local organizations to achieve these goals may not be forthcoming. The goals that are established are not for the concerned CHRC but for the community. If the NCLB goals appear to conflict with those of other community organizations, either those organizations are incorporated into the No Community Left Behind strategy or new goals are developed.

The community needs assessment conducted by the Planning Committee results in a list of issues identified by community stakeholders to be addressed in restoring the neighbourhood. If there is a need to adjust the goals or objectives, this assessment is revisited so that the No Community Left Behind strategy keeps on working to address priority issues. Sometimes the goal or objective is fine, but the time needed to implement an activity may have to be extended. Adjustments are acceptable as long as the process remains focused on activities consistent with neighbourhood restoration.

Step 7:         Evaluating the Neighbourhood Restoration Plan
To be effective, some type of planned evaluation is conducted to determine the outcome of the restoration efforts. It is vital for the subcommittee to know whether restoration goals and objectives are appropriate and achievable.

Subcommittee members monitor two levels of core indicators during the implementation of key activities. The first level pertains to the outcome measures established as part of the overall planning process to coincide with the objectives. For example, if an objective includes offering workshops on small business development, two indicators can be evaluated: How many workshops were offered, and how many people attended these workshops.

The next level of indicators is broader than the objectives and may take months to fully document. Referring back to the example of the small business workshop, the second-level indicator to be documented is the increase in new business startups in the neighbourhood.

Core indicators are important because they measure the overall effectiveness of the restoration process, which includes both stabilization activities and restoration activities. Documentation is required to assess, for example, whether the conditions in the community that affect community members are improving and resulting in an increase in the number of community members securing employment.

Recapping of the Process

  1. Assembling a diverse team of individuals to serve on the Neighbourhood Restoration Subcommittee;
  2. Reviewing the needs assessment completed by the initial Planning Committee;
  3. Formulating goals, objectives and activities;
  4. Submitting the neighbourhood restoration plan for Steering Committee approval, and ensuring neighbourhood restoration tasks complement the other components of the No Community Left Behind strategy;
  5. Implementing the plan, recognizing that adjustments may be needed over time;
  6. Establishing core indicators, and evaluating the plan on a regular basis.


Critical assumptions

The subcommittee does not have to be directly responsible for the implementation of neighbourhood restoration activities but rather serves to coordinate such activities by organizations that may already exist in the community and have the appropriate expertise. Also, if neighbourhood community members are not participating in the program, restoration will probably fail.

Participation does not mean listening to the NCLB updates at the local community centre but rather includes voluntary participation in activities designed to remove negative influences and create a positive living environment. Encouraging participation can be difficult, but it can be done. There are no formulas for creating an environment that results in effective neighbourhood participation. Community policing officers help involve community members because they are talking with the community members on an almost daily basis. It may be necessary to occasionally reexamine the composition of the subcommittee. If some people lose interest or just cannot attend meetings, their positions require filling with new members. If it is not possible to ensure participation of top officials from local organizations, it is necessary to ensure that individuals who do participate have the power or direct access to power to make decisions on behalf of their organization.

The timing of subcommittee meetings is an organizational challenge. Although meetings for staff representing organizations might be ideal during the day, the number of employed community members able to attend at that time may be limited. It is necessary to find a schedule suited to the majority.

Planning and managing a successful restoration process is difficult because many of the socioeconomic market forces that affect the value of the neighbourhood are not controlled by the No Community Left Behind strategy. Keeping a realistic eye on the time required to restore a neighbourhood helps balance expectations for change and results in critical activities, programs, and services that positively affect the lives of community members.





© 2005-15 South - East Ottawa Community Health Centre
Centre de Sante Communautaire du Sud Est D'Ottawa

Contact: Abid Jan Tel./ Tél: (613) 737-5115 Ext. 2403  Fax/Télé: (613) 739-8199

NCLB matters because neighbourhoods matter