Kimi went in expecting to find some good wood, maybe some useful cabinets, possibly a piece or two of original trim, but what Kimi found blew her mind. “We have to save it!" Kimi said in awe as she wondered around this pristine example of a 1920’s craftsman's house. “It was stunning, to say the least.”
A few decades earlier the southeast corner of Terrace and Isabella had 7 homes on it, rentals and family houses, but years of neglect, white flight, and disinvestment left the homes empty abandoned and decaying. Then one day the city decided to take them all down, and there was nothing. Grass and weeds started to grow up, the trees began to fall down, and Tom was left wondering “What if?! What if we took over the lot?” Tom would often mow the lawn and pick up trash and do whatever he could to keep it as tidy as possible, but on his own couldn't get much done.
“When we look at a house like this we see history, we see story, we see family, we see value and hope. We see good bones.” A house like this makes no sense to any real estate investor. It’s not a house you can flip for profit. The current real estate values in Muskegon's core city neighborhoods don’t make a house like this profitable in any way. It took close to $60,000 in materials and necessary contracted work to bring this house back to life, and that's not accounting for the countless hours of volunteer work that have been put in.
15% of Muskegon County residents have a certified disability, 25% higher than the national average. 41% of Muskegon county residents live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty level, 22%* higher than national average. These numbers alone are sobering, so this month we are taking the opportunity to educate ourselves about the links between poverty and health, health and poverty.
Despite the heavy snow, spring always comes early at Community enCompass bringing with it the promise of opportunity. The opportunity to bring our fresh organic produce to more of our core city Muskegon neighbors. The opportunity to engage children and families in our learning garden. And the opportunity to help more people transform their lives through our farm-based job training program for core city youth.
For many years, a group of our neighbors has sought to provide high quality, new toys, and gifts for hard-working families in the core city Muskegon neighborhoods at an affordable price. Every child sees the same commercial yet Muskegon County’s ALICE population (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) struggle to afford basic household necessities.
This was my first time at the “Taste and See” Tour of our core city neighborhoods and Community enCompass. Wow: I am so very impressed with the awesome programs that Community enCompass has their hands in, rebuilding our community. Love IS what Love DOES & Community enCompass is doing much with Love. A great variety of amazing things are growing in our community as Community enCompass ministers through growth.
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.
One of the greatest joys in neighborhood development work is seeing young leaders growing up to take positions of influence and responsibility in the community. This summer a large number of our emerging leaders (YEP’s) were thrust into positions of significant responsibility that stretched their abilities and tested their faith. They worked as farmers with McLaughlin Grows Farm, as camp leaders with CATCH Camp, as crew leaders with Royal Edge (our new and improved lawn care social enterprise!), lot beautification under the direction of Sprinkler Works, and with our Home Rehab and Construction program at our current “home redemption project” on 4th street. The internships have ended, they are exhausted. And have significantly matured.
When the last grocery store moved out of the downtown area of Muskegon, we were left with a “food desert,” a low-income area, that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Many neighbors in the core city neighborhoods are without transportation, so access to fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult. The result of this has been an increase of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, fueled by the mix of unhealthy food and lack of exercise. Through efforts of groups like McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm and the Muskegon Farmers Market (open 3 times a week through the summer months), affordable, healthy, fresh produce is becoming more available to the community.