Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Community Relations

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1 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Promoting Harmony Celebrating Diversity Facilitating Resolution

2 Promoting Harmony Facilitating Message from Community Relations Executive Director Our team of professionals and volunteers serve as civil rights and human relations advocates. We believe that we have an obligation to ensure fairness and help remove barriers that impede the community from living in harmony and equally experiencing all that Charlotte-Mecklenburg has to offer. We strive to leave no one behind and to assure that everyone, regardless of their status, has an equal opportunity to succeed. The word community is more than just a part of our name. It represents an inclusive group of friends and neighbors of different races, colors, faiths, ethnicities, ages, incomes, disabilities and nationalities. For half a decade, we were known as the Community Relations Committee (CRC). As a result of the progress we ve made coupled with the relations we ve built with our partners we can now say we ve grown into Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations. For the next 50 years and beyond, we plan to continue building a Charlotte- Mecklenburg known for its tolerance, understanding, bridge-building and harmony for all residents, including immigrants. As we celebrate 50 years of service to the community, we salute and give heartfelt thanks to our partners, members, customers, volunteers and all Charlotte- Mecklenburg residents. We thank you all for joining in our mission to serve the community we re so fortunate to call home. Willie Ratchford Executive Director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations About Our Staff & Committee City of Charlotte Staff The focus of Community Relations staff is on building relationships and solving problems in four main areas: Dispute Settlement Program (DSP); Fairness in Housing; Training & Education; and Police-Community Relations. Staff members are dedicated to investigating conditions; determining interventions; consulting with agencies or authorities; enhancing community trust in the process for receiving, investigating, and adjudicating complaints of police misconduct, and improving relations between the citizens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police officers. Committee Staff relies on counsel from 45 volunteers comprising the Community Relations Committee. Appointed by Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, they are an integral part of the human relations support system and help promote the quality of opportunity for all citizens, and the understanding, respect and goodwill among all residents.

3 Resolution Celebrating Diversity As a resident of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community, you have rights. Community Relations remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure those rights are protected. Fair Housing The mission of Community Relations is driven by the fact that equal access in public accommodations is a right, not a privilege. Community Relations works hard to prevent discrimination in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Formal complaints are accepted from anyone who feels discriminated against in a public place or in housing because of their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, family status or disability. When complaints are filed, Community Relations handles each case individually; investigates; participates in any hearings and has a goal of finding a resolution for each case. Staff members document and investigate complaints and conduct standardized testing of alleged violator s facilities. Community Relations also provides referrals to Disability Rights and Resources. Enforcement, education and outreach services are provided in conjunction with the Federal Fair Housing Assistance Program and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Complaints may be filed using the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form located at Click on Forms. For more information about fairness in housing and public places or to file a complaint, call

4 Promoting Harmony Facilitating Dispute Settlement Mediation Since 1983, the Community Relations Dispute Settlement Program (DSP) has been providing mediation and conciliation services to Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents. Through the utilization of trained volunteer mediators, the program has a 90 percent resolution rate. DSP continues to dramatically decrease the number of court cases that often place an extra burden on an already over-crowded judicial system by reducing the influx of courtroom cases while saving thousands of dollars each year that individuals may have to pay in their quest for dignity and legal rights. Community Relations representatives remind residents that a request for mediation services is not a guarantee; both parties must agree to mediation before services can be rendered. Landlord/Tenant Offers opportunities for tenants and landlords to eliminate communication barriers and work together to solve problems. Issues may include: damaged property, security deposits, living conditions, financial assistance for repairs, or miscellaneous conflicts stemming from the landlord-tenant relationship. Juvenile Offender Offers a safe environment in which a juvenile who commits a crime ( offender ) and a person who suffers the effects of that crime ( victim ) can meet and talk together. This opportunity provides a chance for each person to more fully understand what happened, to take an active part in determining necessary repairs and to find some measure of healing and closure. Medicaid Offers Medicaid recipients who have either been denied requested services or had their services reduced an opportunity to meet and discuss their concerns with the state entity that made the decision to deny or reduce services. Mediation provides a chance for better understanding of the needs and concerns of the recipient as well as the Medicaid criteria of the different types of available services and allows the parties to discuss the most appropriate services and/or levels that will meet the recipient s needs. Misdemeanor Cases Offers individuals with pending court actions an opportunity to have their court case(s) dismissed without having a criminal conviction on their record. Charges such as simple assault, communicating threats, harassing phone calls, damage to real or personal property, unauthorized use of motor vehicles and larcenies are referred to DSP from district court judges, magistrate offices, district attorney offices, private attorneys, public defender offices, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Mecklenburg County Sheriff s Department and the Clerk of Superior Court.

5 Resolution Celebrating Diversity Truancy/School Issues Offers parents, students and school personnel an opportunity to meet in a non-threatening setting to discuss issues that are affecting a child s attendance and performance in school and to mutually determine a plan of action that will address those issues. Charlotte Housing Authority Hearings Offers an opportunity for tenant complaints to be heard and acted upon by an unbiased panel in an appropriate period and in a fair manner. The Housing Authority, viewing Community Relations as an impartial third party, has requested that Community Relations hear eligible cases. Worthless Check Conciliation Offers individuals with pending court dates or outstanding warrants for worthless checks an opportunity to make restitution to the merchant and have their case(s) or warrant(s) dismissed without having a criminal conviction on their record. Requests for any other mediation services can also be made by submitting the Dispute Resolution Referral Form located at Click on Forms. Training & Education Community Relations develops and delivers free training to Charlotte-area neighborhood associations, civic organizations, schools and other groups. Through conflict management training, skills are provided to residents and groups on how to handle conflict in an effective, nonviolent manner and where the emphasis is on assertive communication skills. Diversity training focuses on cultural competency, the strengths of a diverse community, how to check out assumptions and the acceptance of differences. Fair housing practices are taught by Community Relations to Realtors, apartment management companies, tenants and others in the housing industry. By educating people on the Federal, City and County fair housing and public accommodations laws, discriminatory practices are curbed proactively. To inquire about Community Relations training services, please call

6 Promoting Harmony Facilitating Celebrations Police Community Relations Community Relations works closely with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to develop trust and communication between officers and citizens. A police complaint review program is also available, where assistance is provided in making allegations of officer misconduct and alternatives are given to registering complaints directly to the police department s internal affairs division. To honor officers and work teams who have made outstanding contributions to neighborhoods and communities in the area, annual Police Community Relations Awards are presented to recognize these efforts. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Community Relations makes every effort to reach out to the entire community and embrace diverse cultures. Playing a large part in these efforts is recognition of the dreams and global vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Relations organizes an annual celebration during Dr. King s holiday with both the local citizen and the state of the community as the central focus. The MLK Medallion Award is another focal point of the Dr. King Celebration and related community recognition efforts. Individuals from all walks of life in Charlotte- Mecklenburg who exemplify the ideals of Dr. King are presented with the award. Community Dialogue Community Relations recognizes a key component to having a successful community is the ability of its residents to feel trust for those with whom they come into contact regularly; particularly those who may be perceived as being different racially, ethnically, economically, geographically, politically or generationally. To bridge gaps and open lines of communication, trust and understanding, Community Relations periodically holds community forums inviting residents and local officials to build relationships through conversation, dialogue, discussion and even debate. Whether the topic revolves around schools, budgets, religion, or basic human rights, Community Relations, along with partnering agencies like the Community Building Initiative (CBI) and Mecklenburg Ministries (MM), feel strongly that community dialogue can pave the road to a smoother future in Charlotte- Mecklenburg. Community Dialogue programs are held several times a year and residents are encouraged to inquire about upcoming programs that may be of interest. For further information or to RSVP for upcoming discussions and forums, please contact Community Relations at

7 Resolution Celebrating Diversity Give us a call Community Relations Administration & Staff Fairness in Housing & Public Places Dispute Settlement Program (DSP) Police Complaint Review Program Police-Community Relations Awards Program Training & Education Community Dialogue Visit us in person 600 East Trade Street, Charlotte, NC Look for us online Submit a form Request Community Relations services Landlord-tenant referral form Dispute resolution referral form Housing discrimination complaint form Public accommodations discrimination complaint form Worthless check form Police-Community Relations Award nomination form Medallion Award nomination form For any of the above forms, visit: and click on Forms.

8 The path toward equality and inclusion is beneath our feet when we venture to communicate about difficult issues, reflect and receive knowledge, foster understanding and model tolerance for others. Partners Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations has been an integral part of the human relations support system for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for 50 years. Our partners have aided and assisted us over the years and will continue to do so as we move forward in offering the residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg support and services. State of North Carolina Mediation Network of North Carolina Latin American Coalition Disability Rights & Resources Greater Charlotte Apartment Association Charlotte Regional Realtor Association Community Building Initiative Foundation for the Carolinas Mecklenburg Ministries Charlotte Housing Authority Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Disability Rights and Resources Division of Medical Assistance Office of Administrative Hearings Mecklenburg County Sheriff s Department Criminal justice system Parks & Recreation City of Charlotte Neighborhood & Business Services Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Char-Meck 311 Centralina Council of Governments CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG COMMUNITY RELATIONS Promoting Harmony, Facilitating Resolution Celebrating Diversity

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