In the wake of social disturbances which rocked American inner-city communities in the late 1960’s, Homewood-Brushton residents created Forever Action Together, Inc. (FAT) to stimulate the political, educational, social, and economic life of the community.
In 1969, the Housing Committee of FAT was inspired by an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that detailed a summer youth program in New York that encouraged self-help to overcome neighborhood blight and deterioration. Members of the committee traveled to New York and returned with a modified program model.
With initial funds provided by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise (PACE), foundations, local businesses and corporations.
Operation Better Block, Inc. (OBB) was established in 1970 and incorporated in 1971 to promote the revitalization of the community and to restore it to its former vitality. To achieve its mission, in its early development, OBB focused exclusively on utilizing the strategy of community organization; an approach predicated on the belief that the problems of physical development, economic development, and cultural development could be best enhanced by working with the individual residential blocks which comprised the neighborhood. Implicit in this approach was the recognition that community development must be a bottom-up process in which neighborhood residents assume the primary role in formulating community development goals and objectives consistent with their perception of community needs, and where they take the major responsibility for community problem-solving.
This bottom-up process forms the foundation for OBB’s four core values,
−We equip residents rather than do for them.
− The community drives and leads. OBB is behind-the-scenes support.
−We value grassroots engagement and knowing the people we serve.
−We value transparency, integrity, and financial accountability