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Thread: Encouraging pride and improvements to neighborhoods

  1. #1
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Encouraging pride and improvements to neighborhoods

    My city has housing grant (up to $1,000) each spring for exterior repairs - siding, painting, windows, roofs, doors, etc. There is no lien on the property, so essentially it is free money. The homeowner does have to pay either 15% or 25% of the project cost. The application process is very easy - it is a page and a half long, and they also have to submit proof of income and photos. We get about a hundred applications. But most of them are people that do what little they can to keep their house and property nice.

    On a side note, half the applications are incomplete and automatically denied, which is fustrating - it is so easy and so clear what is required.

    Are people just too lazy, do they not care?

    What can be done to combat these issues? How can cities encourage their residents to care? It isn't even always a money issue - it doesn't take money to keep junk picked up from your lawn, so why don't people do it?

    What tools do you utilize to encourage pride and investment to residential neighborhoods?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would like some of your free money please. I will replace my rear gutters and tuck-point my porch with it.

    You may be having problems for any of the following reasons:
    - No one who qualifies for it knows about the program.
    - Stubborn pride.

    Perhaps getting local contractors involved would help sell the program?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I am guessing that it is only for owner occupied structures? What about contractor requirements?

    I think that if you just get into the community and advertise it, or even mention something similar to “If financial assistance to correct the violation is needed, please contact staff at ###-####” on code violation notices for peeling plaint or other exterior violations.

    But yes, many people are lazy when it comes to free money.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    I am guess I am asking what other ways can cities encourage pride of ownership and even a little investment into properties? I'm talking about those properties that probably legally meet zoning, building, and property maintenance codes, but still look like hell. I don't think throwing free money is always the answer, but what is? Why do people just leave crap all over their lawns - is it because they just don't care or are too lazy to pick it up? How do you address that, and even, can you??

    Home-ownership classes? Home repair classes? Any ideas?

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I am guessing that it is only for owner occupied structures? What about contractor requirements?

    I think that if you just get into the community and advertise it, or even mention something similar to “If financial assistance to correct the violation is needed, please contact staff at ###-####” on code violation notices for peeling plaint or other exterior violations.

    But yes, many people are lazy when it comes to free money.
    Yes, it is for owner-occupied structures. We have had the program for the last 15 years. It is in the paper multiple times, on the cable access channel, and in the Shoppers Guide which is free and goes to every residence. The bldg dept encourages it as well as local contractors.

    The City also has a trash pickup every year in the spring where people can haul as much garbage to the curb for no cost.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Some techniques we've used that have been effective for our HOME Reconstruction program and CDBG Rehab programs (which are larger than your program, but you get the idea):

    Neighborhood captains that we routinely channel this type of stuff to. They usually know folks in the neighborhood that could use the help and typically don't have access to the usual means of finding out about stuff. We also show the captains how to fill out each of the forms. We do most of our forms in English and Spanish.

    Have people that have used the program before "invite a friend" to participate the next year. We call up the folks from the last year and ask them to refer us to someone else that might be interested.

    Churches. These folks always know where to find willing participants.

    The most effective: we reconstructed two houses on a street of about 18 houses. A year later, six houses have had substantial renovations and two other owners have asked about participating in next years program. Nobody wants to have the ugly house on the street.

    Our building official has discussed with us the possibility of using some CDBG funds for home ownership, maintenance and light repair classes, and to generate some guidebooks in English & Spanish.

    Another item for clean-up is our local university. They organize a major volunteer day every spring, usually with about 3,000 students. They spend the day painting houses, hauling off garbage, landscaping, etc.

    The thing I've encountered that seems to be the root cause around here is that the occupants are often struggling so much to make ends meet that they don't have the time (working multiple jobs, taking care of sick family, etc.) or the money (underemployed, disabled, elderly). They are often so busy that they don't hear about these programs and when they do, assume that the application process is so complicated that they figure they don't have the time. There is a lot to be said for one-on-one attention in the application process.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I think you should run some awareness programs out in the community. Attend neighborhood association meetings, give a presentation at the local community center, etc. Sometimes you have to really put these kinds of materials into people's hands and walk them through the process to get applicants.

    I used to work for a state humanities council running their grants program and it was astonishing how poorly some of the proposals were in terms of assembly (though often the projects were great). So, we also provided assistance to applicants. If they were able to get applications in to us a certain amount of time before the deadline, we would provide feedback, have a consult, etc. I also traveled around the state, giving presentations on the grant process. It was very effective - inevitably, we would have a rash of applications from that area for a few years.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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