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National LISC News

2013 Award Winners


Civic Engagement
Downtown Streets Team and the Palo Alto Police Department
Project name: Palo Alto Downtown Urban Blight Reduction – North County Alternative Services (NCAS)
Palo Alto, CA   

The Downtown Streets Team core program is based around volunteer work-experience in which clients, all of whom are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, volunteer to provide community service.  The goal of the program is to help decriminalize homelessness and offer proactive solutions to those who are caught in a cycle of repeatedly being arrested and being unable to pay the associated fines and fees.  In collaboration with the North County criminal justice system, (including police, probation, the District Attorney’s office, the Public Defender’s office); social service agencies such as the Downtown Streets Team and Momentum for Mental Health; and county agencies such as the Department of Alcohol and Drug Services, the partners have developed a system which offers alternative interventions through a transitional volunteer program.  The efforts have led to a significant reduction in panhandling, drunk in public charges, loitering, public disturbance, trespassing, vagrancy, and burglary while benefiting the community through resident and business engagement and extensive community cleanups.  Rather than a salary, participating clients are rewarded for their volunteer work through stipends and services that connect them to metal health services, employment counseling, and housing.  Since June 2011, Downtown Streets Team has helped over 60 people find permanent employment after taking part in their program. These homeless and formerly homeless individuals have worked over 41,000 hours as paid employees and have earned nearly $485,000 cumulatively as a result of these positions.  

School-Based Programs
Dane County TimeBank, Madison Metropolitan School District and the Madison Police Department
Project name: TimeBank Youth Court
Madison, WI

The Dane County TimeBank (DCTB) is a network of over 2,000 individuals and 150 organizations working to increase resource sharing by building community ties in Dane County.  Since it began in 2005, DCTB members have exchanged more than 80,000 hours of service ranging from website development and tutoring to garden design.  Members provide services to one another and earn credit for their time. For example, a member can mentor a teen and can then spend the time earned (TimeBank Hours) on receiving consulting advice for their small business.  An outgrowth of the DCTB is a school-based youth court focused on preventing youth from going through the destructive cycle of arrest and detention by integrating users into the TimeBank network.  With immediate interest and support from the school district, DCTB and the Madison Police Department (MPD) launched the first Youth Court on Madison's east side in 2006.  The program has now expanded to four city high schools offering a creative and positive approach to handling disciplinary situations occurring in school and the surrounding community.  From 2008-2009 MPD issued 2,414 municipal ordinance citations to over 1,500 juveniles.  584 of these violations occurred at one of the four city high schools.  As a result of the high percentage of tickets being issued from the high schools, MPD requested the schools become the main focus area for the program.   In the 2010/2011 school year insubordination incidents decreased by 13%, the number of students involved in fights decreased by 20%, and the number of students in possession of drugs or alcohol decreased by 40%.  

Diversity Inclusion and Integration
Immigrants’ Assistance Center and the New Bedford Police Department
Project Name: Tri-Lingual Gang Violence and Intervention Program
New Bedford, MA

The mission of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center (IAC) is to help immigrants overcome language, cultural and economic barriers, and integrate into the American way of life while maintaining their ethnic identity and pride.  With its 42 year history, the IAC has established trust with the immigrant community that provides critical access and information to assist both residents and community based organizations, including the New Bedford Police Department.  The IAC connects high risk immigrant youth and their families/guardians to critical community services and provides follow up resources ensuring their needs are met.  IAC is a key member of the HOPE (Healthy Opportunities for Peaceful Engagement) Collaborative, a state funded multi-disciplinary partnership created in 2007 to reduce gang and youth violence.  In 2009, as part of the HOPE collaborative, the IAC partnered with Roosevelt Middle School placing a tri-lingual community resource specialist (CRS) in their building.  Working with the New Bedford PD and others, the CRS offers intensive one-on-one services to both youth and their families.  Anger management, recreational opportunities, vocational assistance and additional services are offered in Portuguese, Cape Verdean Creole, and Spanish. Although based at the middle school the target age group for clients ranges from ages 12-18.  The CRS offers referral services, explains deportation concerns and issues, and provides explanation of court dates and procedures and how those can impact immigration status.  Working as part of the HOPE Collaborative, the CRS also offers gang prevention and education programs understanding that many immigrant youth seek out gangs for protection of themselves and their families.

Blight Reduction
Richmond Main Street Initiative (RMSI) and the Richmond Police Department  
Project name: RMSI Downtown Revitalization
Richmond, CA

In 2005 the Richmond Main Street Initiative (RMSI) launched their first effort to introduce a community safety program to the Iron Triangle neighborhood as part of their broader economic development work. The program, called the Clean and Safe Committee, focused on the creation of two core programs and the development of numerous events that contributed to a reduction in crime and blight, and an increase in investment.  The efforts include the Art in Windows Program, the Neighborhood Ambassador Program (NAP) and a series of regularly occurring outdoor community activities to generate foot traffic and boost civic pride.  Due to their efforts, crime on the commercial corridor decreased 26% overall in 2011 and further decreased 8% overall in 2012.  NAP activities have made enormous impacts in decreasing low-level crimes on the corridor, made visible and significant reductions in neighborhood blight, increased the level of reporting of quality of life issues to appropriate authorities, and helped to change negative perceptions about the district.  From Oct 2010 through March 2013, Ambassadors resolved 88% of issues identified on their patrols and have developed strong public/private partnerships that address community concerns.  The Art in Windows Program and the series of community events have created increased foot traffic, generating greater investment interest in the district.  During the warm months, a farmers’ market and free Zumba classes are now offered weekly to generate regular activity downtown.  Between 2008 and 2012 RMSI attracted over 19,000 visitors to downtown, over 10,000 of those visitors attended the 174 promotional events organized through their partnership.  The Art in Windows effort creates temporary art galleries in vacant storefronts that had become hotbeds of illicit activities.  Through this effort, local artists are paired with property owners of vacant stores to transform windows into lit up displays for exhibiting the artwork.  Art exhibitions are then coupled with the launch of the new art works through the RMSI.  These “art walks” have encouraged pedestrian activity and have generated publicity from local press, community blogs, other artists and neighborhood residents that have had a transformative power on the image of an area once known for chronic disinvestment, property vandalism, and blight.

Gang Prevention & Youth Safety
San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs and the Los Angeles Police Department
Project name: Salute to our Kids, a Safe Community 
Los Angeles, CA

The San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs is a partnership between government entities and community based organizations with the shared goal to promote youth safety through the coordination of gang prevention, intervention and suppression activities.  Prior to the creation of the Coalition, governmental agencies were challenged by informal and largely ineffective coordination channels with other agencies.  To address the need for collaboration, LAPD Operations Valley Bureau had a series of meetings with LA County Probation and Communities in Schools (CIS) to discuss improving communication and coordination of existing resources.  As a result, the partners pulled together a group of nearly 50 agencies that could contribute to the overall reduction of violent gang crime, through a comprehensive intervention and prevention strategy.  Since then, the Coalition has become a successful model for collaboration, community policing and effectively utilizing private and public resources to reduce crime.  LAPD absorbed the role of being the anchor agency and engaged key participants from the community to become steering committee members.  The steering committee is comprised of representatives from LA Unified School District, LA City Dept. of Recreation and Parks, LA County Probation, the Mayor’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Office, LA City Attorney, Dept. of Children and Family Services, LA City Board of Public Works, Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment, three City and County elected officials, and community based organizations.  Working together, the members have created a resource directory that was produced and distributed to schools, parks and law enforcement agencies to provide a source for referrals of at-risk youth and their families.  Due to race related gang violence, a human relations program involving County and City agencies and community based organizations, was established to work with youth on race relations and tolerance. From 2001 to 2011, incidents of gang related crimes were reduced by 29.7%.  At the end of 2012, there was a further reduction of 17.5%.  


Nuestra Communidad Development Corporation and the Boston Police Department
Project Name: Revitalizing and Building Community in Roxbury’s Blue Hill Corridor 
Roxbury, MA         

In 2009, Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, Boston Police Department (BPD) and other community-based organizations formed a partnership to address high foreclosure rates and high crime rates in the Howard-Dacia neighborhood, a roughly ten-block area designated as a Foreclosure Intervention Target (FIT) area by the City of Boston.  At the request of resident leaders, in 2010 the target area expanded to include the surrounding Blue Hill Avenue Corridor in the Roxbury neighborhood.  Nuestra’s organizing staff work with over 1,000 residents and work closely with BPD to address public safety issues on an on-going basis. Through on-site educational and recreational programming, support groups, field trips, and neighborhood cleanups, Nuestra provides opportunities for residents to improve safety and build connections to the broader community.  Nuestra has invested significantly in the development of relationships and its work with BPD has resulted in increased commitment of resources, including three prostitution stings in the target areas in 2011.  The successful stings, never previously done in Boston, resulted in an increase in both prostitution complaints and arrests.  In addition, the partnership has focused on hot spot code enforcement by targeting the most problematic properties based on community feedback.  This focused efforts on local nuisance bars, a drug house, a garage used as haven for drugs and prostitution, vacant lots, bus stops, and an active brothel in a blighted building that was successfully shut down.  As part of their work, Nuestra has purchased problem and foreclosed properties that have been flagged as top concerns for both residents and police.  

Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and the Chicago Police Department
Project Name: West Humboldt Park Revitalization Initiative
Chicago, IL

Over the last ten years Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) have led a joint initiative to stabilize the West Humboldt Park community. The goal of this partnership is to improve quality of life in an area nationally known for violent crime.  Since 2000, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation has constructed 181 affordable units in two developments in West Humboldt Park: Harold Washington Unity Co-op and Rosa Parks Apartments.   Due to high levels of crime in the surrounding community, the organization partnered with CPD on both projects as soon as the site-selection process occurred.  Following the construction of these two developments, the surrounding area began to rebound, and for the first time in years, investments in the neighborhood are flourishing.  Positive neighborhood developments include the opening of the Kelly Hall YMCA, construction of the Richard M. Daley branch of the Chicago Public Library, adult education and digital literacy trainings, a large scale public health and obesity prevention campaign, a year round farmers market, free fitness classes, and the opening of the first sit-down restaurant in over 30 years, on Chicago Avenue.  Over the years, the partnership has deepened to include both a preventative and responsive stabilization strategy overcoming funding challenges and major law enforcement turnover.  Components of their long term strategy include educating residents about safety protocols and programs, regular meetings with police commanders, and coordinating community events such as mural/art programs focused on building community connections.  

Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson, Inc. and the Jackson Police Department
Project Name: Jackson Community Safety Initiative
Jackson, MS
Since 1986, Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson (HFH/MJ) has worked in the Metro Jackson area, replacing substandard housing with affordable and sustainable homes while also working to make those neighborhoods safer.  More than 560 homes have been built and 155 plus homes rehabilitated and/or weatherized, making HFH/MJ the largest single family housing developer in Jackson. For years HFH/MJ has communicated and worked with the Jackson Police Department (JPD) to tackle the substandard housing issues in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.  In 2007, HFH/MJ and JPD formalized their working relationship establishing the Jackson Community Safety Initiative focused on two neighborhoods.  Safety programs in the MidCity/Park View Place area have resulted in organized and effective neighborhood association meetings and frequent cleanup projects. A close working partnership has ensured that the gains achieved in revitalizing this neighborhood are maintained and strengthened.  A recent award to HFH/MJ to be used for rehabilitation and new construction in this neighborhood validates the progress made in the area and the confidence in continued development.  In Englewood Gardens, the safety work has been the catalyst for reinvestment. Now a 29-home subdivision development sits where vacated military barracks led to a haven of neglect, including a large illegal dumping site to rampant prostitution. HFH/MJ and JPD have worked to identify and engage neighborhood residents and associations to be a part of the progress and public safety planning.  In addition, the partners have collaborated with the city and local utilities to allow for improvements such as added lighting that also provides for greater safety in the areas. The partnership is a model of what can be achieved in neighborhood revitalization, working together to align strategies on a weekly basis and reallocating resources to achieve a 57% reduction in violent crime.  

Thomas Safran & Associates, Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), and the Los Angeles Police Department 
Project Name: Dunbar Village and Central Avenue Neighborhood Revitalization 
Los Angeles, CA  

The historic Dunbar Hotel and the adjacent Somerville apartments were located in the heart of the Central Avenue community and were the center of many of its problems.   The area was known for crime, graffiti, gang violence, low performing schools and high unemployment.  Gang members considered the Dunbar Hotel and adjacent properties their haven and the LAPD was in a reactive mode when dealing with the high crime and daily shootings.   The complex was a hub for prostitution, loitering, and vagrancy.   The local development company that previously owned the property had attempted to rehabilitate but defaulted and the City of Los Angeles took ownership of the properties. Thomas Safran & Associates (TSA) was selected by the City to fully rehabilitate the historic Dunbar Hotel and apartments to become an affordable building for seniors and families. In preparation for taking ownership, TSA formed a partnership with LAPD’s Newton Division, Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), and All Peoples Community Center (APCC), and hired an on-site property manager.  The collaborative approach taken by the partnership connected the physical improvements of these projects to broader neighborhood plans. With each of the lead partners spearheading various efforts, the collaboration was able to use the rehabilitation as a positive anchor to create change in the surrounding neighborhood.  Since the start of their work, there has been no graffiti or vandalism at or near the project. Physical improvements include extensive landscaping and an on-site playground.  Other accomplishments include improved lighting in the area, increased police presence, and organized activities for youth and families that has created a sense of community.      Efforts have also included educating residents on safety, parenting, immigration and other pertinent issues. Due to their efforts, retailers and residents on Central Avenue are more engaged and connected while benefiting from a reduction in loitering, vagrancy, vandalism and overall decrease in crime with homicides down from 140 to only 11.  

University City District (UCD) and the Philadelphia Police Department
Project Name: Multi-Institution and Police District Public Safety Partnership
Philadelphia, PA

University City District (UCD) is a partnership of universities, small businesses and residents to improve economic vitality and quality of life through a place-based, data-driven framework.  UCD fulfills this mission of community revitalization through several interconnected efforts and a longstanding relationship with law enforcement.  UCD and the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) have developed shared goals of day-to-day responsive deployment and long-term crime data analysis.  A Philadelphia police substation is located within UCD’s headquarters.  Each week, UCD, representatives from two police districts, and other patners gather for a deployment meeting to assess the previous week’s crimes and determine the need for increased patrol presence, distribution of alerts to the community, and to discuss ongoing challenges.  UCD also partners with the University City Safety Group, which coordinates a monthly meeting of the 19 agencies responsible for safety in University City, including the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, AMTRAK, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the IRS, and the FBI.  Through economic development and planning, UCD focuses on business recruitment and retention; provides comprehensive assistance to property owners; and physically improves public spaces, which includes pedestrian plazas and a community composting center in a formerly vacant lot. UCD also offers year-round programming that activates the neighborhood through art installations, performances and destination events, bringing thousands of visitors and consumers to the community each year.  Through their Clean & Safe Program, UCD has a team working from 8am to 4pm each day, cleaning and enhancing more than 160 commercial and residential blocks. In 2012, this resulted in the removal of over 100,000 bags of trash, and 3,640 graffiti tags, a total of 44,360 hours spent maintaining the cleanliness of our neighborhood.  UCD has 42 Public Safety Ambassadors serving as a highly visible deterrent to crime, patrolling the target area each day on foot, vehicle and bicycle while maintaining constant contact with the substation of the Philadelphia Police force that is located in their administrative headquarters.