In the fall of 1998, a group of religious congregations and community leaders in Long Beach, California, with the assistance of the People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO), established a Sponsoring Committee for an interfaith congregation-based community organization. Following several years of organizing and the successful engagement of several congregations on issues of local importance, the Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO) in 2005 voted to become a duly constituted nonprofit community organization.
ICO's member congregations have worked on a variety of issues of local concern including traffic problems, street lighting, crime, sanitation and youth activities. Congregations have also worked together on issues of shared concern including air quality, access to health care, shelter for the homeless and the need for affordable housing.
ICO leaders have:
- Worked with the South Coast Air Quality Monitoring District (AQMD) to invest fines collected from oil refineries to install air filters and pursue related efforts to improve safety and health at local schools.
- Led the successful push to open a 59-bed permanent homeless shelter in west Long Beach, and to establish a Housing Trust Fund in the city.
- Enrolled dozens of low- and moderate-income families and children in subsidized health care and health insurance programs.
- Conducted Get-Out-the-Vote efforts and held candidate forums to inform constituents and solicit positions on issues of concern to ICO congregations from candidates for local offices.
- Continued to pursue initiatives to expand health care coverage to cover all low- and moderate-income area residents, and to engage local leaders in creative efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing options.
ICO is a separate non-profit organization, but as part of the PICO National Network uses the PICO congregation/community model of community organizing. This model has been effective in developing local leaders and obtaining social change in public institutions.