Iowa CCI in the ’70s – Timeline

Here’s the full scoop on our work in the 1970’s:



  • After learning about the power of community organizing, a group of Waterloo clergy decides to establish a local grassroots organization involving residents of lower income neighborhoods.


  • Sufficient funding is secured from local Waterloo churches to hire staff to initiate the community organizing project. Founding director Fr. Joe Fagan was hired.
  • Staff receives on-site training in Chicago from a neighborhood organization affiliated with the National Training and Information Center (NTIC) (Now known as National People’s Action).
  • Community organizing starts in Waterloo. First issue addressed is dilapidated vacant motel left on a weedy lot for over two years. Through organizing the motel is removed in eight weeks.
  • At an issue planning meeting local residents name the new group Citizens for Community Improvement.


  • CCI members organize to get the city of Waterloo to use Community Development Block Grant funds for affordable housing, neighborhood improvements and local health care facilities. The Peoples Community Health Clinic is established in the basement of Antioch Baptist Church. Today the Health Clinic still remains at 905 Franklin Street, Waterloo.
  • The  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development begins to investigate the city of Waterloo’s CDBG housing rehabilitation program for shoddy work.
  • CCI holds the first public meeting in Iowa on mortgage redlining. 150 people attend.
  • CCI creates sponsoring committees in Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Cedar Rapids to help establish new CCI organizations in those communities.
  • CCI hires new organizers. National Training & Information Center (now known as National People’s Action) staff comes to Waterloo to help with week-long training program. New organizers learn by working in Waterloo’s lower income neighborhoods.
  • CCI begins in Des Moines and Council Bluffs. CCI members in Des Moines hold their first redlining meeting attended by 200.


  • CCI members in Waterloo get the city to extend water lines to a lower income neighborhood where residents had to depend on contaminated wells for their drinking water.
  • When the city of Council Bluffs and the railroad both refused responsibility for taking care of abandoned railroad tracks, CCI members and neighbors claimed the land, fenced it in and expanded their back yards.


  • Organizing by Iowa CCI resulted in the passage of the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This law spells out the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords and provides tenants with additional options to obtain decent housing.
  • Working with residents concerned about the late night noise from car racing at the State Fairgrounds, CCI members in Des Moines won passage of an ordinance which limits the noise level in residential areas.
  • CCI begins in Cedar Rapids. Slum housing is lead issue.
  • CCI is incorporated as a statewide organization, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI).
  • Organizing by Iowa CCI on the issue of mortgage red-lining results in the passage of the state Neighborhood Revitalization Law. This law gave each Iowa city the power to declare a designated part of its community an “urban revitalization area.” The area was then eligible to receive tax breaks for making home improvements as an incentive to upgrade housing.


  • Organizing by CCI members in Waterloo helped pass the Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Law.
  • CCI members in Sioux City stopped city officials from using $650,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds on a proposed civic center, and instead re-channeled the funds for housing loans in low-income neighborhoods.
  • CCI members in Sioux City initiated a statewide campaign that resulted in a winter moratorium on shutoffs of heat and electricity.
  • CCI members in Des Moines won passage of an ordinance which makes it illegal for a sex-oriented business to be located within 750 feet of a school, playground, or residential area.
  • CCI members in Des Moines, upset with their basements flooding 1940s, got the city to commit $2 million and build a large holding basin which prevented flooding of a 100 square block residential area in the city’s northeast side.


>>Return to the Putting People First for decades History page.