If i had an operational foundation with some pockets, i would put a team together where some members vie for seats on city council, planning & development board and the grand jury for that jurisdiction, while other members outreach into business and educational communities, to leverage a culture of culture of community involvement, to help provide ideal reasons for wanting to live in that neighborhood again.
Sounds like “Gentrification”
Gentrification is usually an upscale displacement, to lure affluence and disposable incomes, often at the expense of the traditional communities. The Seneca Park Syndrome.
I believe that gentrification doesn’t have to be exploitative in order to succeed. Families want to send their kids to the best school that they can afford. Young career-bound employees want decent transportation scenarios for their dreaded daily commutes. Residents want to be near things to do, and to feel safe enough to go out and do them.
Grants like Horace
If the neighboring schools suffer from a lack of resources, work with school board and pta groups on strategizing a robust grant-writing program, where two or three people do nothing but research and write grants, for as long as the salaries and operational costs are covered by the grant-writing fee percentage. What school board is going to scoff at tens of thousands of dollars revenue they didn’t lift a finger for, and don’t have to pay back?
Mixed-income housing community
Subsidized Section 8, starving student/pt burger slingers, working class and executive, all on the same block. Everyone will want to live there, bc the rental rates would obviously below market. Sprinkled the temporarily unemployed/low-income amongst the other residents, instead of pushing them all into one area.
Why would anyone upscale want to move in? The availability will be limited, which makes it relatively exclusive. Plus the gentrified appeal of “authentic urban life,” but without the quotes. The bbq spot around the corner has been there for generations, just with a newly-renovated dining area and an Instagram following.
This only works if crime and blight are dealt with from inception. At a $1/title, invest in the entire block (s) as a single investment. If we are pushing that kind of money into local municipal coffers, then having a working relationship with law enforcement and justice must also be forming long before the first new tenant moves in.
The Neighbor ‘Hood?
Learn from habitat for humanity, and put the word out that anyone on the renovation crew, either as a contractor or volunteer, would earn perks, like application priority/ first dibs, first month rent free/reduced deposit, seniority within the community board (renter’s version of HOA), a group that would have regular scheduled meetings with the landlord/owner or property manager.
To help strengthen the sentiment of a community-building, for the renovations, I’d give contract bid priority to local businesses and independents. The future residents will be going to the same schools, malls and movie theaters as the families that helped revitalize the properties. It also keeps the economy local. The money we would be spending on renovation would be directly injected into the local economy all the materials were bought locally, paychecks going to local laborers, and local businesses get a boost in traffic as the local workforce may take months, even a few years, to completely develop an entire block of residential accommodations.
Transforming the Hood 4 Good*
*I can’t leave Yisrael Family Farms out of this, right??
Rooftop gardens would be available, even encouraged. The organic section of the local grocery/convenience store should be an annexed modest farmer’s market. A niche that should attract more touristy nichy millennials who would love an “urban-but-safe” destination point. Hobby income for a few residents, while being a needed outlet for neighboring urban farmers.
Creating Opporunities instead of Obstacles
Those on welfare won’t just be sucking up govt subsidies while sitting on the couch all day. Their abilities, talents, strengths and weaknesses will be considered during their application. We would be looking for certified or certify-ready licensable daycare providers to help run a subsidized daycare program that’s available to all resident families. We can even pick them up after school until parents get home. One or two managers, supervising babysitters and volunteers, so that single parents can have broader job and education opportunities, and working families can juggle less. As a participating parent, you can get pro-rated discount based on how much time you yourself put in as an assistant volunteer.
And any Section 8 applicant who was contracted or volunteered with the renovation, would be given priority. An able-bodied skilled laborer or contractor who helped with the renovation wouldn’t be unemployed for long. Plus, they took the initiative of putting work in while the other applicants did not. Not that it’s a sign of laziness, everybody has their own priorities and struggles. However, the ones who worked on the renovation put their sweat and tears into the buildings, they have invested their time and energy into it.
And while the foundation would front much of the upfront costs, the overall model has to be a self-sustaining, adaptive one within a few short years. The block should become its own micro-economy, one that feeds neighboring, regional, state and national economies. If every resident is invested in the community, they’re also invested in the economy. The healthier that economy is, the fewer divisions among classes we’ll see. “Self-Sustaining” is self-explanatory.
No Boats, No Hoes
See, this is what I’d do if I won the lottery. I’d set up a for-profit corporation LLC, and a non-profit foundation. The above would be one of my foundation’s pet projects. I don’t want to make fast cash flipping houses. I want to rebuild communities, in a way that doesn’t just leave a financial inheritance for the next generation. Money spent is money wasted, generationally-speaking. But money invested is money growing. I want to leave a legacy that is still felt long after my own name is long forgotten. A legacy of success in all the families who thrived within unity and diversity. All the single mothers who were able to finish school sooner, get a career sooner, all while raising their children in a safe environment, attending award-winning public schools and hanging out in worry-free daycare afterward while parents are off paying bills. All the welfare recipients who were exposed to the working and executive classes and their busy energies. All the rich snobs who realized “those people” are their neighbors, and their not that bad people. All the seniors who no longer feel alone, with the all those kids who felt overlooked. The human spirit unleashed, in a vibrantly safe community.