Preserving Neighborhoods

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The 7 Core Elements of HANDS’ Strategy
• Redevelopment of pivotal properties in target neighborhoods.
• Increasing home ownership: Investing in first-time homebuyers.
• Strengthening neighborhood organizations.
• Developing leadership.
• Increasing effective citizen engagement.
• Forging strategic partnerships.
• Shaping public policy and private sector initiatives.

Creating Great Neighborhoods, Upward Momentum is the Key
The neighborhood of Orange and its urban neighbors cycled downward during the 1970s and into the 1990s. Properties were deteriorating, vacant and abandoned. Reversing that downward slide and creating upward momentum required attracting investment and generating hope.

HANDS reasoned that if we could redevelop enough of the “pivotal” eyesore properties, and engage residents and public officials in a campaign to rid neighborhoods of vacant and trouble properties, then momentum would shift and investment would follow.

This work relied on an annual, house by house, block by block survey – creating a List of vacant and deteriorated houses with ownership information, taxes owed and other liens against the property. HANDS successfully cleared title to the worst properties and rehabilitated them for sale to first-time buyers. The List was used by community leaders and City Hall to get other properties restored or demolished.

This approach successfully stabilized several neighborhoods, though the recent foreclosure crisis and economic downturn has threatened that successful work.