With a lot of heart and great momentum, last night marked the wrap-up of the LISC Disaster Recovery Target Areas Public Process. The process began months ago, when residents, businesses, and CDCs from four areas (9 Superneighborhoods) were invited to identify “nodes of opportunity” within their communities. This process was sparked by devastations from the 2008 Hurricane Ike that left many homes in a state of dilapidation and struggling communities in further disarray. Four areas, Acres Homes, Independence Heights, Northside Village/Fifth Ward/Denver Harbor/Magnolia Park, and OST/South Union/Sunnyside/South Park will be receiving HUD funds ($151 million) to make home repairs and redevelop areas that will generate further investment, and ultimately move them towards a more vibrant community.
Through a series of public workshops and charrettes, community members were able to voice their opinion about concerns within their community, their priorities for the future, and most importantly, their assets. There were also great discussions about forming more unity among organizations, looking past self-interests for the greater interests of the neighborhood and community organizing for the benefit of future generations. Not all of it was future visioning, however. These workshops were also an opportunity for community members to better understand concepts of market readiness, economic viability, and the inner workings of a planning process. Members then put their lessons into action, putting pen to paper and mapping out their ideas. While much is still ambiguous about future plans, the transparency of the process has communities percolating with ideas and a desire to be a part of the changes. The night ended with very positive vibes and it will be exciting to see the results that will generate shortly, and long-term.