Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization helps improve Jacksonville’s New Town community

Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization helps improve Jacksonville’s New Town community


“Hi, my name’s Roberta Good. I live in
New Town, Jacksonville, Florida. This neighborhood has really grown. There was nothing happening,
but now it’s jumping. New parks, new homes, new families moving in. It’s wonderful.”
[Dr. Irwin PeDro Cohen] “The New Town Success Zone is a place-based initiative where we
work on placing children and their families on a continuum of care that leads from the
cradle all the way to college or career readiness. “When we first started this program in ’07,
it just was not a good place. There was a rampant level of fear around crime and violence
here in the neighborhood.” [Roberta Good] “It was rundown houses, and
a lot of youth was getting in trouble in the neighborhood. You couldn’t walk the streets,
you couldn’t go to the park, and it was just like something needed to be done. And
now we have taken back our community.” [Dr. Irwin PeDro Cohen] “We focus on four
fundamental things here in the neighborhood: early childhood, neighborhood safety and stabilization,
education, and health care. To date, we’ve just built a Center for the Prevention of
Health Disparities, we have a new police substation here in the neighborhood, we built parks in
the neighborhood, we have a community garden in the neighborhood, our schools are turning
around. And so when you add all those things up together, they point to change.
“You know, moving people out of poverty is really complex. So partnerships are really,
really essential to the work of the Success Zone. Because no one entity can do it alone.
Our partnership with Habijax has allowed us to, this year alone, build 25 new homes and
rehab an additional 25 more that exist here.” [Mary Kay O’Rourke] “Well, we’re Habitat
for Humanity of Jacksonville, but better locally known as Habijax. We are revitalizing the
physical aspect with our houses. But then the whole neighborhood is being revitalized
with all the other services.” [Tony Davis] “We care about the community
we serve. You know, we in the sheriff’s office, I mean that’s very big for us to
let the community know that we’re not just here to take enforcement action but we care
about you. So we get out and we speak with residents, and we talk about: What could we
do to make your neighborhood safer?” [Dr. Irwin PeDro Cohen] “Crime is down in
this neighborhood 40 percent. And if you ride around the neighborhood, you’ll see more
and more people just out in the neighborhood. So if the neighborhood’s safe, new homes,
new residents, kids now feel welcome to play.” [Roberta Good] “It’s wonderful to live
in New Town. I love it, and I wouldn’t change nothin’ for it. And I wouldn’t move out,
because of what was back then. Look at us now. Look at us now.”

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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