Each HOPE SF site has a Community Builder. The Community Building activities are an important aspect of what makes HOPE SF unique and bound for success.
The HOPE SF Resident Development program begins with the “Community Building” phase. The HOPE SF developer for each site places a “Community Builder” on-site who gets to know residents, maps assets and challenges, and engages residents in meaningful community development activities. These activities may include leadership development, community projects, or meetings to address common needs and create a vision for a rebuilt neighborhood.
The next phase of HOPE SF Resident Development is “Service Connection,” which begins one year before reconstruction. This is when the HOPE SF developers place case managers on-site to work with individual residents and families (at a ratio of one professional to 50 households). These case managers, or “Service Connectors,” are a diverse team of vocational, family support, and mental health professionals. They build relationships with families and develop family plans, conduct needs assessments, and link residents to opportunities. Service Connectors are coaches and mentors, helping residents to set and meet individual goals. They work collaboratively with HOPE SF residents who do peer outreach and engagement. This intensive level of service is anticipated to last at least three years in each development.
Following reconstruction, there will be on-site Service Coordinators who provide community building activities and referrals to off-site services for families who need assistance.
What Is a Community Builder?
A Community Builder works to build and strengthen bridges—bridges between old and new residents, between neighborhood businesses and City staff, and between developer teams and concerned citizens. For people who live in or near a HOPE SF development, the Community Builder is a valuable resource. Community builders bring together residents and neighbors from all walks of life to get acquainted, identify shared issues, advocate for neighborhood concerns, and more.
Community Builders focus on building and strengthening a lasting sense of community among residents and neighbors by engaging them on issues of importance and shared interest, such as public safety and neighborhood schools.
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Why Are Community Builders Important?
Community Builders are important for developing a healthy mixed-income community. HOPE SF recognizes the importance of building and strengthening trust among residents, neighbors, and other stakeholders.
Community Builders are full-time staff members expressly devoted to working with neighbors to identify and organize positive, productive projects that improve the neighborhood. Community Builders facilitate lasting, self-sustaining community relationships.
Change is hard, and HOPE SF will bring many changes to each community. While these changes will be positive, residents and neighbors also have a right to be concerned about disruption. All have a right to speak about their concerns and priorities throughout the process. Community Builders facilitate communication by helping community members determine how and where to voice their concerns. Community builders help foster the communication and leadership critical for lasting success of the neighborhood.
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Examples of Community Builder Activities
|•||Organizing a block party|
|•||Facilitating a Neighborhood Watch|
|•||Coaching a youth basketball league|
|•||Staffing the Resident Association|
|•||Convening residents and neighbors to offer feedback on site plans|
|•||Partnering with community-based organizations to initiate neighborhood improvement projects|
From left to right:
Uzuri Pease-Greene, Jr. Community Builder and Potrero Terrace Resident
Emily Weinstein, Rebuild Potrero Community Builder
Drew Jenkins, Life Skills and Job Specialist
The Rebuild Potrero Community Buiding team knows how to get things done. In just two short years, they created an entirely new team on-site, engaged residents in dozens of community events, created many popular ongoing site-wide activities, connected with neighbors in Potrero Hill, linked residents to programs and resources across San Francisco, helped residents obtain jobs, and more.
Emily Weinstein has over 10 years of experience working in affordable housing, community development and political organizing. As the Rebuild Potrero Community Builder, she is responsible for all areas of the Community Building Initiative including: identifying community needs and the resources to meet them, managing staff, building relationships, creating institutional structures to support projects, organizing community wide activities, increasing the capacity of surrounding CBO’s, developing community building programs and empowering residents with tools and leadership skills to sustain these efforts.
Uzuri Pease-Greene and Drew Jenkins are experienced community builders, and they take the lead on conducting outreach to residents to increase participation in programs, services and community building activities. Uzuri is known by her neighbors for her extensive knowledge of nearby services and programs - and her enthusiasm in connecting residents with great programs. Drew manages a popular Young Men’s Group, providing structured guidance, referrals, skill building workshops and ongoing mentoring to a group of young men to help provide stability and positive role modeling to this harder to reach population.
Research and experience have shown that transforming underserved, low-income communities into thriving, healthy neighborhoods requires strategic investments in both the physical and social environment. BRIDGE and our partners at HOPE SF recognize that creating a healthy Potrero neighborhood and improving the lives of the City's neediest residents will require more than physical improvements to their surroundings. It will also require changes in the social environment in which public housing residents live and a focus on increasing the capacity of residents to sustain changes in their environments.
BRIDGE defines the Rebuild Potrero Community Building Initiative as an effort to increase the internal capacity of Potrero Terrace and Annex residents to improve their quality of life and effect positive change in their community. The Community Building Initiative consists of both tangible projects and an ongoing process that will empower residents to meet the vision and community goals that were articulated in the master planning phase of Rebuild Potrero.
Emily echoes these sentiments: "The specific activities of the Community Building Initiative are constantly evolving and changing over time depending on the interest of Potrero Terrace & Annex residents, as well as the greater neighborhood, and the existing strengths and weaknesses of the surrounding CBO’s. It is important that activities are community initiated and respond to the community’s existing assets. It is also important to develop an organizational infrastructure that can grow and sustain these community projects. And we are working to do just that."