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2015 Annual Report

Highlights from 2015 Projects and Activities
Prepared by RHINO community manager (RCM)

Advocacy Activities Report on each of the 2015 priorities
SB 349
Other General Assembly
USDA Funding
Utility Reselling

Constitutional change. A
 new RHINO goal "Include" was introduced. This reorganization reflects a new focus on Inclusion policies that's separate from on going efforts to support tenants with homeseeking and equitable home choice. In 2015 1327 stories were blurbed to 226 members. The weekly newsletter goes to 276 email addresses every week.

Demographics: A new way of thinking about "who's RHINO." 
  • Members and on line communities make up the core of the RHINO network. Members receive weekly updates, participate in on line communities and vote on issues, priorities and activities of the RHINO network. On line communities are designed to be interactive. Members may send a message to all the other members of the on line community.   RCM sees increasing interactive participation as a part of the 2016 work plan. In 2015 there were changes to the on line communities.
    • RHINO Partners on line community was formally discontinued in 2015 due to lack of participation. Partners were encouraged to join a different online community.
    • Tenants and Advocates on line communities were merged n the 3rd quarter of 2015.
  • Stars are members and affiliates who contribute information, content, suggestions and questions. 
  • Contributors are members and affiliates who take on projects for the network. Watch for contributor news as 2016 rolls along!
  • Workgroups are groups of members and affiliates who are working on a short term project or issue. Stop SB 349 was an active workgroup in 2015.
  • Affiliates are people who participate in RHINO through another network. Examples of affiliates are Facebook contacts and members of other housing related networks like CAHA, OPN, AHA, HLL and others.
  • World + dog is everyone on the internet. RHINO's websites and Facebook pages are open to anyone with a search engine. RHINO welcomes your input.
  • Who is in charge? RHINO's Community Manager is the coordinator of the RHINO network. You can reach him at communitymanager@rhinohio.com
Finances. RHINO continues to be self funded. This is a positive attribute. Alinsky says "Low overhead = High Independence." The major demand for support from members is the constant push for members to bring in new members, which gets to feeling like an NPR pledge drive. (see outreach below). The major weakness of a self funded organization is that the RCM has a limited ability to get out into the communities where members live and work.

New "news" strategy. A big part of the "I" in RHINO is "news."  Sharing news stories is a way to broaden horizons and frame issues for members.
1. In 2015, rhino!UP continued to publish as a two page newsletter designed to be printed by members and passed out to neighbors, co workers and stakeholders. There's been enough success to continue this work, but the two page format left a lot of the story untold. Therefore, by mid 2015, the expanded version of rhino!UP had moved to the RHINO homepage where additional contents and links were available. Members accessing rhino!UP from a mobile device will find that going to the web is easier than trying to read the print version on a small screen.
2. "What's news?" page of the RHINO website also changed in 2015. News stories were posted at What's News then promoted on the RHINO Facebook page. Most often What's News stories were also promoted in the weekly updates to the RHINO on line communities.

Outreach to prospective members. In 2014 RHINO Community Manager (RCM) promised to find ways to increase personal outreach to prospective members. Here's what happened
1. Expanding Facebook presence. Facebook "likes" increased from 100-150 over 2015. Slow growth, but steady. At the same time RCM became active on a number of rental housing related Facebook pages including Slumlord Watch of Columbus, Tenants Against The Connor Group (utility reselling issues) and 
Public Housing (Section 8) (Voucher Holders)  (HCV issues) 2. Ohio Poverty Law Center Housing Task Force has generously permitted RCM to participate in meetings and on their on line network around rental housing issues.
3. Gas Counties trips and workshops. As described above, RCM was active on the ground in Ohio's Gas Counties from April-October 2015. 
4. Ohio Preservation Network. Joe Maskovyak at COHHIO took over coordination of OPN in 2015, but RCM continues to provide news to the OPN on line network.  RCM also p
articipated in CAHA meetings and the AHA (Cincinnati) on line community.
5. National Preservation Working Group. RCM participated in 2 face-to-face meetings in 2015, monthly conference calls and was active in the Rural Preservation Subcommittee.

Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ). Kind of by accident the RHINO Community Manager (RCM) began writing on housing and community development policy for NPQ. NPQ Newswire contributors are all volunteers, only the editorial staff is paid. NPQ is at a critical juncture, hastened by the untimely death of editor Rick Cohen. The future direction of NPQ and the roles of Newswire contributors will most likely be sorted out in 1Q16. 

Technical Assistance to members, others