Case Studies/ Community relations –

working for the betterment of local communities

Rebuilding Lives: Community Shelter Board

The Community Shelter Board (CSB) launched a visionary plan, called Rebuilding Lives, to reduce homelessness and replace a patchwork system of emergency shelters for the homeless with permanent housing and support services. The five-year plan proposed locating 800 apartments for homeless men in virtually every ZIP code in the country, constructing a shelter in an inner-city neighborhood, and building a facility for alcoholic homeless men. The challenges were great: How could CSB get people to accept living next door to formerly homeless men, many of whom have mental illnesses and addictions? How could CSB raise the money for this unpopular cause?

Siefkas assisted with an aggressive community relations effort to generate broad-based support. Strong and focused messages highlighted the benefits to the residents and the community at large. Community relations emphasized briefings; ongoing communications to seek and maintain support; media relations, including periodic editorial board visits. The community relations program generated an outpouring of support, including government funding approval and editorial support. The U.S. General Accounting Office recognized CSB for its leadership role, and today Rebuilding Lives is viewed as a national model for reducing homelessness. The campaign won a “Silver Anvil” – the most prestigious national award given in the public relations profession.