The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) is an organization of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform the city. We work to create relational power that can build and strengthen each member institution as well as shape public policy for the common good. TMO was formed in 1980 to give a voice to people who are usually excluded from major decisions that affect their lives. TMO is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a nationwide organizing institute with a fifty year history. TMO is also part of the West / Southwest IAF regional network and the Industrial Areas Foundation national network.

TMO believes that a truly democratic society requires the active participation of ordinary citizens. When people lack the means to connect to power and participate effectively in public life, social relationships disintegrate. Our model of relational organizing helps build real community. It generates social capital through a tight web of relationships across lines of race, ethnicity, class, faith, and geography. This social capital enables us to participate fully in public life and to become more effective actors in our communities.


Dewhurst Drawing Flak On CHIP

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst drew fire Wednesday from several clergy members and leaders of a community action group who said they have lost patience with him on funding the Children's Health Insurance Program.

It is hypocritical for Dewhurst, they said, to dismiss low-income families' concerns about signing CHIP re-enrollment forms every six months when Dewhurst himself has failed to properly fill out basic business forms affecting some of his business interests...

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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Simpler Form Created to Aid Storm Victims

About 30,000 evacuee households - most of them in Texas - are still eligible for housing aid, which had been extended to 18 months after the disasters. The extensions are to Feb. 24, 2007, for Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and to March 28, 2007, for Hurricane Rita evacuees. But recipients had to fill out a lengthy application to re-certify their eligibility... Now the agency has come up with a one-page form that allows applicants to declare that assistance is still needed.

'It's the most beautiful form I've ever seen,' said Bob Fleming, vice president for program services at Catholic Charities in Houston and a leader of the Metropolitan Organization, a group working with hurricane evacuees, including 25,000 households in Texas, where most of the storm victims fled.

Full Article, New York Times

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Immigration Debate Hits HPD From Both Sides

Stepping into a hot local fight over city policy toward illegal immigrants, the federal agency that enforces immigration laws said Friday that Houston police could do more to help the effort.

At the same time, a leading community group urged the department to stand firm on its policy limiting inquiries into suspects' residency status...

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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Of Katrina and Political Husbandry

Bob Fleming is a vice president of Catholic Charities in Houston. He has been working on resettlement of foreign refugees for 30 years, with his agency now handling about 500 families annually. It has also worked with about 15,000 of the 110,000 Hurricane Katrina victims in Houston....

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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Call Them 'Refugees' If It Gets the Job Done

0605 - NYT - Katrina Survivors in AstrodomeAfter Hurricane Katrina, "refugee" became a dirty word. Its "pejoration," as the linguists called it, was swift. Displaced Gulf Coast residents, and those who claimed to speak for them, said the word implied that New Orleanians were not Americans. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Washington lawmakers, the N.A.A.C.P. and ultimately even President Bush objected to its use, and it quickly became incorrect.

But on a recent afternoon in Houston, Linda Jeffers, a tall New Orleanian in a broad-brimmed straw hat, told a roomful of evacuees that she wished she were a refugee....

Full Article, New York Times

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Big Easy's Mayoral Hopefuls in Houston Today

The race for mayor of New Orleans is turning into a jet fuel-consuming marathon across the South as candidates with the deepest pockets jump from Houston to Atlanta and points in between trying to reach displaced voters.

In the political landscape jumbled by Hurricane Katrina, residents living out of state can cast absentee ballots - and the city has the potential to elect its first white mayor in almost 30 years. Passion is high among New Orleans evacuees, who seek a voice in how their city rebuilds and fear being excluded....

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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Group Urges Tax Reform to Ease Burden on Poor

Many residents in Houston, particularly its poorest, pay an unfair share in taxes while many Texas businesses and professional service industries are exempt, members of the Texas Tax Reform Commission were told Wednesday...

"We pay our share of taxes, but a lot of companies in Texas do not, and they should so that we are not the only ones carrying the burden."

Gonzales and a handful of other members of The Metropolitan Organization, a collection of churches, synagogues and nonprofit agencies, pressed the commission on needed tax reforms, including the group's proposal to broaden business taxes to include attorneys, accountants and computer programmers...

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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Voter Registration Drive Targets Katrina Refugees

Danielle James came to the clubhouse at Summercrest Apartments in search of information about social services. As a young mother of a newborn, she wanted to know how to navigate Houston's public health system.

She left with something she didn't expect - her name on a list for an absentee ballot for next month's municipal elections in New Orleans....

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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A Grass-Roots Group Is Helping Hurricane Survivors Help Themselves

0510 - NYT - Katrina SurvivorsIn the two months since Hurricane Katrina hit, the Metropolitan Organization, a group of professional organizers affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, a grass-roots network founded by the Chicago radical Saul D. Alinsky, has been busy sowing nonpartisan political activism and mobilizing survivors to champion their own interests in resettlement and rebuilding decisions.

Early on, with at least a quarter-million people finding refuge in the Houston area alone, it helped organize evacuees in the Astrodome, winning a playground for children and secure areas for the elderly. It persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to maintain evacuees' cellphone service even if they fell behind in their bills...

[Photo Credit: Josh Merwin, The New York Times]

Full Article, New York Times

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Survivors Group Petitions for Action

With thousands of signatures already collected, a new organization of residents in the Reliant Park shelter complex continued to circulate a petition for improved services.

The Survivor Leadership Group, an organization of New Orleans community leaders who have been living in the Reliant Astrodome, began circulating the petition Tuesday evening. The leaders came together last week with the assistance of a Houston advocacy group known as The Metropolitan Organization, or TMO.

Full Article, Houston Chronicle

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