Sept 18th is the anniversary of the founding of Hull House in Chicago in 1889.
If you don't know the story you might want to read up. Here's a long
excerpt from Wikipedia to whet your appetite for this pioneering
effort that "invented" social work as a compassionate and
transformational social practice.
Throughout the first two decades
of operation, Hull House attracted many female residents who later
became prominent and influential reformers at various levels. At the
beginning, Addams and Starr volunteered as on-call doctors when the
real doctors either didn’t show up or weren’t available. They
acted as midwives, saved babies from neglect, prepared the dead for
burial, nursed the sick, and sheltered domestic violence victims. For
example, one Italian bride had lost her wedding ring and in turn was
beaten by her husband for a week. She sought shelter at the
settlement and it was granted to her. Also, a baby born with a cleft
palate was unwanted by his mother so he was kept at the Hull House
for six weeks after an operation. In another case, a woman was about
to give birth to an illegitimate baby, so none of the Irish matrons
would touch it. Addams and Starr stepped in and delivered this
helpless little one. Finally, a female Italian immigrant was so
thrilled about fresh roses at one of the Hull House receptions that
she insisted they had come from Italy. She had never seen anything as
beautiful in America despite the fact that she lived within ten
blocks of a florist shop. Her limited view of America came from the
untidy street she lived on and the long struggle to adapt to American
ways. The settlement was also gradually drawn into advocating for
legislative reforms at the municipal, state and federal levels,
addressing issues such as child labor, women's suffrage, healthcare
reform and immigration policy. Some claim that the work of the Hull
House marked the beginning of what we know today as "Social
Welfare". At the neighborhood level, Hull House established
the city’s first public playground, bathhouse, and public gymnasium
(in 1893), pursued educational and political reform, and investigated
housing, working, and sanitation issues. The playground opened on May
Day in 1893, located on Polk Street. Families dressed in party attire
and came to join the celebration that day. Addams became the founder
of the National Playground Association and advocated for playgrounds
nationwide. She had studied child behavior and painfully concluded
that “children robbed of childhood were likely to become dull,
sullen men and women working mindless jobs, or criminals for whom the
adventure of crime became the only way to break out of the bleakness
of their lives” Also, one volunteer, Jenny Dow, started a
kindergarten class for children left at the settlement while their
mothers worked in the sweatshops. Within three weeks, Dow had 24
registered...kindergarteners and 70 on a waiting list. At the
municipal level, their pursuit of legal reforms led to the first
juvenile court in the United States, and their work influenced urban
planning and the transition to a branch library system. At the state
level Hull House influenced legislation on child labor laws,
occupational safety and health provisions, compulsory education,
immigrant rights, and pension laws. These experiences translated to
success at the federal level, working with the settlement house
network to champion national child labor laws, women’s suffrage, a
children’s bureau, unemployment compensation, workers'
compensation, and other elements of the Progressive agenda during the
first two decades of the twentieth century.
Coaching is our shorthand to describe a partnering/mentoring approach to rental problem solving. In sports, the coach has more knowledge and experience than a "rookie" but it's the player who moves the ball downfield or swings the bat. Being a coach means letting the consumer make the plays and earn the score. See below-professionals explain your role
Dispute Resolution: Before give and take becomes push and pull you may be able to help bring disputing parties to make a deal.
Diversity is an important enabling technique. Too often tenants in MF housing are pitted against each other based on age, disability, race, gender... This divide and conquer strategy accomplishes two management goals: blame "other tenants" and make "inclusive" behavior seem like "socialism."
Evidence: how to "make a case"
documents. leases, notices, property advertisements, memos from the manager, emails, text messages....anything in writing that pertains to the rental relationship could be critical.
witnesses: people hear and see things that can help explain the problem. A key step in using a witness is to create a written statement of what happened as quickly as possible after the event took place (lawyers call this contemporaneous).
photos: be sure you have proof when the photo was created and by whom.
recordings: In Ohio a recording can be used in evidence if one party to the conversation knows that the conversation is being recorded. There's no requirement to disclose that a recording is being made. However, the person making the recording should be available to testify to the date, time, circumstances of the recording.
Have you had this problem of "clients" not understanding what you do? Tenant says: "just tell me the answer" like
there's a big book where I could look it up or...where there's a big
book where he could look it up...if only he knew where to find the book.
Explaining that i need to think about the problem blows by at
supersonic speeds...Just tell me the answer!. Here's the take away from
a new article: "Even in situations in which it appears that clients do
understand a profession," the study says, "it may be appropriate for a
professional to manage clients' expectations to maintain initial trust,
as gaining trust back after it has been lost may be even more difficult
than gaining trust in the first place." The focus of the research seems
to be the professional's feelings of well being and justifying the fees
that the professional charges. For "helping professions" maybe our
concerns should be helping our clients understand complexity (complex
systems...no simple answers) and helping them open doors to discovery See Coaching (above)
"Remote" relationships are necessary because: our service areas have expanded , our customers work schedules are complicated,
and decisionmakers (housing
providers and housing intermediaries) are often outside our local
communities. The challenge of remote relationships is to preserve intimacy and capture accuracy.
Science, not just feelings or values
Many social service providers are afraid of science because of mathematics or resistant to science because of ideological belief systems (religious and secular) that are value only systems. Here's what science can bring to your practice 1. openness to new situations (it's a new world) 2. acceptance of diversity of background and behavior (what is a reasonable time for entry.) 3. an ability to suspend judgement in favor of intervention (trading "well if you hadn't done THAT" for "lets explore some options from here")
knowing a little more about human behavior than you learned in school or church or mom's knee 20 years ago (or more) can help you understand what you are observing in your practice
Science Daily-snippets from current research (be selective about what you find, use interesting articles to push you to additional research)
gather data and analyze of your practice experience
use crowdsourcing to get data from places you can't reach in your experience.