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Arizona Association wins Kudos for efforts. (Government Affairs).

Developing and winning support for one of the strongest slumlord laws in the nation taught the Arizona Multihousing Association, Phoenix, valuable lessons in coalition building and communication. Concerned about a growing problem of substandard rental housing, AMA joined forces with a coalition of local law enforcement and government agencies, neighborhood activists, and realty groups to urge support for landmark slumlord abatement legislation that became state law in 1999.

AMA's promotion of the legislation helped ensure its passage, according to Wayne Kaplan, director of communications and public relations. The association took part in legislative hearings and task forces to help develop the bill, met with reporters and editorial writers, participated in neighborhood discussions and summits, and kept members updated--via letters, e-mails, and articles in association publications--on the legislation's progress.

An unexpected but welcome result of AMA's diligent efforts was an improved public image of the association and the rental housing industry. The state's largest newspaper, which initially published articles and editorials critical of the association, wrote editorials praising AMA for its work on behalf of the slumlord law. One of the most powerful and vocal statewide neighborhood activist organizations awarded AMA a certificate of appreciation "for service and support to Arizona communities." The governor also invited association representatives to join her when she publicly signed the legislation into law. Ongoing efforts on behalf of the law for AMA include periodic updates on its Web site and in its monthly magazine. "We also keep in touch with the Slumlord Task Force as it works to fine-tune the law based on real-world experiences," notes Kaplan, who adds that the law is mentioned in AMA's landlord-tenant training for members and nonmembers. Kaplan offers these words of advice to executives contemplating o r already engaged in coalition-based legislative campaigns:

* Listen to and learn from everybody.

* Develop consensus to resolve issues. If you disagree, say so, but offer alternatives. Don't just walk away.

* Think outside the box.

* Understand that perception is often more important than fact when dealing with an emotional public issue.

* Stay focused on your ultimate goal.
COPYRIGHT 2002 American Society of Association Executives
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Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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