Fighting Poverty with Passion
|According to a survey conducted in October 2009 by NHS Staff, 7th Ward residents and Freret residents, neighborhood blight is consistently named as one of the most pressing issues currently facing their respective communities. In response to this overwhelming interest, 7th Ward and Freret residents and staff at the respective Centers have launched a campaign to address issues of blight in the communities. As of May 2010 much of the Blighted Property Campaign’s efforts to reduce blight centered around working with the city’s code enforcement process that holds property owners accountable to the responsibilities of maintaining their vacant properties. Although this work continues to be beneficial in the fight against neighborhood blight, it became clear that the code enforcement process alone could not fully address the issue of blight in the 7th Ward and Freret. Because code enforcement does not offer assistance to residents who currently occupy homes that are rundown in some way, the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center and Freret Neighborhood Center became interested in providing simple property-upkeep assistance to residents who currently occupy their homes and who are otherwise unable to maintain their home.
In late April 2010, HandsOn New Orleans contacted me about a possible 7 month partnership that would provide volunteers each week to work on a project of choice at the Center. The Center applied to be a partner in conjunction with the Freret Center and developed the 7th Ward & Freret Milan Beautification Project. The program provides volunteers to work on beautification projects in the 7th Ward and Freret/Milan neighborhoods on alternating Thursdays, coordinated by two Volunteer Leaders each week. It is specifically designed to engage local volunteers. In addition to offering assistance to homeowners, the program also allows for projects at non-profit organizations and in public spaces. – Laura Mellem, AmeriCorps VISTA
Visit the 7th Ward Neigborhood Center blog to learn more about the center!