College Hill residents believe that the community has “turned a corner” with the Nazareth Home development and the recent demolition and clearing of nine dilapidated properties. “It feels good to look across the street and see the improvements,” says Pat Woods, owner of the new Fresno’s diner. “You can tell something good is happening here. It’s a place that has a vision for change.”
That vision is the result of a lot of hard work and increased involvement by residents in supporting the community, according to residents and other stakeholders who were interviewed recently by the LCMS National Housing Support Corporation (NHSC). “This area is changing for the better and residents are involved and take great ownership within their community,” observes Antoinette Cousins from the Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation. That involvement includes residents who volunteer “nearly every weekend to maintain a neighborhood park,” says Bernard Powderly with the Grace Hill Settlement Center.
Removing the eyesores has been a long-time resident priority and has led to a greater sense of safety. “More people are out walking around and children are out playing,” said resident Carolyn Conners, “I think that speaks for itself.”
Such big changes also boost confidence in the future, with all of those interviewed saying that the community will improve “a lot” or “some” in the next three years. Several residents spoke about people who had left the neighborhood and are now thinking about moving back. Others have noticed that more residents are taking better care of their own homes, inspired by all the new development.
Resident Carmen Gamble believes the new construction and demolition have made a huge impact on the community and have improved the neighborhood’s image. “[The changes] are a sign of stability. Removing houses that cannot be rehabbed makes everyone start thinking of College Hill with a clean slate.”
“For families, who have the vision to dream beyond the sight of a lot and can see a home to raise their family, College Hill is a great place to live and a great place to call home,” Gamble said.
LCMS National Housing Support Corporation completed the acquisition and demolition of the nine properties with a $150,000 grant from the Wells Fargo UrbanLIFT program. The overall redevelopment project has included the rehabbing of around 90 homes owned by elderly residents; the planting of six community gardens; the launch of the Nazareth Homes development; and the implementation of far-reaching security initiatives. NHSC conducted interviews with 12 residents and community stakeholders in May and June of 2015 as a follow up to the UrbanLIFT project.
The LCMS National Housing Support Corporation is a non-religious 501(c)3 organization that partners with neighborhood revitalization groups across the country to rebuild and restore deteriorating communities. NHSC focuses on providing LCMS entities and their community partners the tools they need to transform their own neighborhoods. NHSC has demonstrated a long-term commitment and support to its neighbors in College Hill since 2007. The organization has consistently provided leadership and financial resources to the area and has engaged more than fifty partners and the area’s residents to transform the neighborhood to a once again vibrant, safe and market desirable community.
For more information contact: John Albers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (314) 996-1317 and Anna Paul by phone at (314) 324-3635.