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Int J Health Serv. 1992;22(2):303-16.

Community organizing among the elderly poor in the United States: a case study.

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  • 1Department of Social and Administrative Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


This case study demonstrates the role of community organizing as a vehicle for enhancing individual and community-level empowerment. Building on social support theory, Freire's "education for critical consciousness," and the principles and strategies of community organization practice, the 12-year-old Tenderloin Senior Organizing Project reflects the World Health Organization definition of health promotion as a means of helping individuals and communities to take increasing control over the factors influencing their health. Through the Project, low-income elders have successfully identified and addressed shared problems in such areas as crime and safety, undernutrition, and tenants rights. They further have developed ongoing tenants' associations and other community-based organizations that have provided continuity over time and contributed to the development of a "competent community." Problems in areas such as funding, evaluation, and volunteer burnout are discussed, as are the potentials for project replication in other settings.

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