Throughout the summer (through the generous contribution of many of you), the YEP’s have been employed as paid summer interns. Each YEP chose the project they wished to invest in, determining the skills they would learn, and how they would give back to their community.
Kimi went in expecting to find some good wood, maybe some useful cabinets, possibly a piece or two of original trim, but what Kimi found blew her mind. “We have to save it!" Kimi said in awe as she wondered around this pristine example of a 1920’s craftsman's house. “It was stunning, to say the least.”
A few decades earlier the southeast corner of Terrace and Isabella had 7 homes on it, rentals and family houses, but years of neglect, white flight, and disinvestment left the homes empty abandoned and decaying. Then one day the city decided to take them all down, and there was nothing. Grass and weeds started to grow up, the trees began to fall down, and Tom was left wondering “What if?! What if we took over the lot?” Tom would often mow the lawn and pick up trash and do whatever he could to keep it as tidy as possible, but on his own couldn't get much done.
When our board and staff attempt to identify the reason why Community enCompass exists, we end up with phrases like “Neighborhood Transformation,” and “SHALOM in the City.” Lofty dreams for a rag-tag team of people who are often stumbling towards good. The year-end process of digging through data always makes me wonder..... how will we know once we’ve arrived? How will we know when our neighborhoods have been transformed and we taste SHALOM?
Nina has bounced from house to house for over a decade, taking the initiative and engaged the services provided by almost every social service organization in the City---food assistance, substance abuse programs, parenting classes. She’s rented a place before, but the rent was higher than what she could afford—sometimes 70% of her total income, and she always ended up evicted.
This summer, hundreds of volunteers have already partnered with our neighbors to invest time, money and effort along 5th and 6th Streets from Houston Avenue south into Muskegon Heights. The project activities have provided effects similar to that of a facelift, rejuvenating the existing physical built environment of our core city neighborhoods. These activities are lifting the spirits of those living in these neighborhoods as well, and allowing neighbors to show-off their amazing gifts of hospitality!
“When we look at a house like this we see history, we see story, we see family, we see value and hope. We see good bones.” A house like this makes no sense to any real estate investor. It’s not a house you can flip for profit. The current real estate values in Muskegon's core city neighborhoods don’t make a house like this profitable in any way. It took close to $60,000 in materials and necessary contracted work to bring this house back to life, and that's not accounting for the countless hours of volunteer work that have been put in.
For many years, a group of our neighbors has sought to provide high quality, new toys, and gifts for hard-working families in the core city Muskegon neighborhoods at an affordable price. Every child sees the same commercial yet Muskegon County’s ALICE population (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) struggle to afford basic household necessities.