Phew: What a summer! So much work has been done. One of the highlights this summer has been our “4th Street Facelift” Project. Community enCompass was 1 of 10 organizations across the state to be awarded a $50,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for neighborhood enhancement projects. Competition was hot with 36 projects across the state applying, and the grant was a catalyst for neighborhood organizing in a powerful way.
We structured our neighborhood enhancement efforts around the Midtown Square area of Nelson Neighborhood, wanting to build upon the City’s investment of 9 single family homes built last year. Most of the families on 4th street are homeowners, however many are either single-parent families or fall into the “ALICE” (Asset Limited Income Constrained & Employed) population, families who are employed but aren’t paid enough to cover the basic costs of housing, childcare, food, healthcare, and transportation. In short, these are neighbors who are one “crisis” away from poverty.
We floated the idea of the “4th Street Facelift” with many of our neighbors who were both excited and relieved at the prospect, as many were overwhelmed by the cost of looking after their home and simultaneously struggling to make ends meet. “4th Street Facelift” helped us achieve three goals: 1) Build on the momentum of the Midtown Square Development 2) Help our neighbors who were struggling with increased pressure from the inspector's department, 3) Share skills and knowledge with neighbors and 4) Build on our mission of engaging our neighbors to build community together.
So what did we do?
Partnering with over 250 volunteers, 10 families from 4th street, youth from our YEP and a handful of experienced contractors we worked with 10 4th Street families to landscape, fix and paint porches/foundations, and add new siding/windows to several homes. Together we sanded, scraped and painted, trimmed, edged, mowed and planted.
“It’s been great to see neighbors engaged in this project, getting to know each other, sitting on their front porches, watering their lawns and taking care of their landscaped yards,,” says Kimi, project director.
“We’ve had folks from the city and neighborhood associations share their excitement about the “4th Street Facelift” and how we were able to stretch $50,000 and make every dollar count, by leveraging volunteers and in-kind donations. So they've asked how they can support the community to do this project again next year, on another street!”
We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in 4th Street Facelift: : the volunteers from local churches, neighboring states and even Canada! . Thanks to those who offered their skills and their tools. And most importantly we would like to thank our neighbors who are making this neighborhood a model neighborhood by being engaged and facilitating change!