Neighborhood associations

Neighborhood associations are voluntarily organized groups of residents who work together to create a unified voice, enhance living conditions in their neighborhood, and address neighborhood concerns. Neighborhood associations can hold block parties and neighborhood events or provide advice to local government. In mixed commercial and residential areas, neighborhood associations frequently include business owners or representatives. Neighborhood associations can take various forms such as grassroots neighborhood organizations, civic associations, or city-sanctioned governing structures: they are different from homeowners’ associations in that homeowners’ associations impose mandatory membership and dues on groups of property owners, whereas neighborhood associations do not (Henderson-Neighborhood toolkit, ).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased social capital

  • Increased social cohesion

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased community involvement

Evidence of Effectiveness

Neighborhood associations are a suggested strategy to increase social capital and social cohesion in communities (CDC-Social capital, , ). Available evidence suggests that involvement in neighborhood associations and meetings may be associated with residents’ increased bonding social capital (e.g., socializing and cooperation with neighbors) (, ), linking social capital (e.g., connections to neighbors and neighborhood organizations) and positive perceptions of neighborhood norms and values (). Neighborhood associations also appear to be associated with increased communication and community activities, higher neighborhood satisfaction among residents (), and greater political activities for association participants (). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Effects of neighborhood association involvement on increased social capital appear to be greater for tenants than homeowners. Among tenants, neighborhood association involvement is associated with higher trust in racial minorities in their neighborhood (). Among individuals participating in neighborhood associations, those who are most active report the highest levels of social capital (, ). Participants who spend face-to-face time and develop interpersonal relationships with other group members may be more likely to continue their participation than those who do not ().

A Los Angeles-based study suggests that the performance of neighborhood association boards may affect associations’ effectiveness solving community issues and advising about city policies (). Available evidence suggests that living in areas with active neighborhood associations may be associated with increased property values ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Cities in several states are members of Neighborhoods USA (NUSA); associations are common in many municipalities.

Implementation Resources

Henderson-Neighborhood toolkit - City of Henderson Neighborhood Services Division. Neighborhood leadership toolkit.

RNeighbors-Neighborhood toolkit - Rochester’s Neighborhood Resource Center (RNeighbors). Neighborhood association toolkit. Rochester, MN.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Hays 2007* - Hays RA, Kogl AM. Neighborhood attachment, social capital building, and political participation: A case study of low- and moderate-income residents of Waterloo, IA. Journal of Urban Affairs. 2007;29(2):181–205.

Ohmer 2007* - Ohmer ML. Citizen participation in neighborhood organizations and its relationship to volunteers’ self- and collective efficacy and sense of community. Social Work Research. 2007;31(2):109-20.

Ohmer 2008* - Ohmer ML. The relationship between citizen participation and organizational processes and outcomes and the benefits of citizen participation in neighborhood organizations. Journal of Social Service Research. 2008;34(4):41-60.

CDC-Social capital - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Social capital.

Alaimo 2010* - Alaimo K, Reischi TM, Allen JO. Community gardening, neighborhood meetings, and social capital. Journal of Community Psychology. 2010;38(4):497-514.

Christens 2011* - Christens BD, Speer PW. Contextual influences on participation in community organizing: A multilevel longitudinal study. American Journal of Community Psychology. 2011;47(3-4):253–263.

Li 2019* - Li H, Wen B, Cooper TL. What makes neighborhood associations effective in urban governance? Evidence from neighborhood council boards in Los Angeles. American Review of Public Administration. 2019;49(8):931-943.

Craw 2017* - Craw M. Institutional analysis of neighborhood collective action. Public Administration Review. 2017;77(5):707-717.

Ruef 2016* - Ruef M, Kwon SW. Neighborhood associations and social capital. Social Forces. 2016;95(1):159-190.

Hur 2015* - Hur M, Bollinger AG. Neighborhood associations and their strategic actions to enhance residents’ neighborhood satisfaction. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 2015;44(6):1152-1172.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

NUSA - Neighborhoods USA (NUSA). Building stronger communities.

Date Last Updated

Nov 4, 2019