Community Organizing / Nehemiah Strategy

Bob Linthicum introduces this almost unbelievable model of “community organizes” by 60 churches in New York, by telling his own equally powerful stories of the power of community organizing among churches in Chicago and among the ‘untouchables” in India, resulting in transformed lives and 6,000 government constructed homes for purchase.                                 

In the chapter, Dr. Lee Stuart  and Rev. John Heinemeier tell their story of the power of community organizing in New York City: Together sixty congregations have created five thousand homes in the most devastated parts of New York City, initially in East Brooklyn and then the South Bronx. The chapter zeros in on the South Bronx Nehemiah Strategy. South Bronx Churches (SBC) borrowed $3.2 million dollars from local and national religious judicatories and organized thousands of potential homeowners to create the political will that convinced the City of New York to provide vacant land and modest subsidies for the Nehemiah construction. The Nehemiah Strategy is unique because it is an organizing strategy, not a development strategy, which is explained in this chapter. These authors trace how the churches used their relational power and resources to organize the public sector (land and subsidies) and private sector (construction and mortgage financing) to create unparalleled opportunity for low and middle-income families to become homeowners. The people themselves broke the downward cycle of poverty and continue to lead in rebuilding their community.

The epilogue tells the incredibly good news that among the 1,000 homes built using the Nehemiah Housing Strategy by South Bronx Churches, and amid the mortgage meltdown, not one home has had a foreclosure. The NY Times, NPR and others have reported this great news.


IAF—Industrial Areas Foundation:

South Bronx Churches:

PICO National Network:


Christians Supporting Community Organizing

Other Resources:

Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination by Walter Wink, Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1992

Organizing South Bronx, by Jim Rooney State University New York Press 1995

Roots for Radicals: Organizing for Power, Action, and Justice, by Ed Chambers, Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. NY 2004

Signs of Hope in the City, edited by Robert D. Carle & Louis A. DeCaro Jr. Judson Press 1997

Transforming Power: Biblical Strategies for Making a Difference in Your Community by Robert Linthicum, Intervarsity Press 2003