By Jude Allume SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Syracuse’s Home HeadQuarters helps in developing high need communities in a number of ways, like with their annual event they call Block Blitz. Since 2009, Block Blitz has brought volunteers into neighborhoods deemed as high-needs to perform maintenance on as many homes as possible in a single day.
The organization’s Chief Communications Officer, Karen Schroeder, has been with the company since the first Block Blitz. She believes it’s a great way to engage and change a community for the better.
“It’s kind of a jump start to helping people get re-engaged back in their neighborhood and get things going again” Schroeder said.
Schroeder also says that neighborhoods that Block Blitz have cleaned usually see a decrease in crime rate and an increase in property value.
“When we build a property or when we rehab a property there’s usually an increase in value of the homes surrounding that area,” Scroeder said. “I don’t know about actual impacts in terms of the crime rates, but I think at least for the immediate times preceding or surrounding the event, it certainly goes down just because everybody’s out.”
Though the decrease in crime and increase in property value can be seen as a positive sign, it doesn’t necessarily mean the neighborhood remains in good standing after Home HeadQuarters work is done. When looking back at how neighborhoods fare after the Block Blitz, there have been mixed results like cross section of Ontario Street and Otisco Street where the Block Blitz was held in 2010. There are many homes which the Block Blitz have helped in maintaining, but there are also many homes which have since been abandoned.
Some neighborhood residents, like Ronald Doty believe that there were houses that couldn’t be saved regardless of the Block Blitz effort.
“A lot of the homes are so run down that they needed that extra work and the people are poor in this neighborhood,” Doty Said. “They needed that little extra help.”
He has lived on Ontario Street for 55 years and has had work done on his home through the organization. Even though the neighborhood hasn’t thrived since the cleanup in 2010, Doty believes Home HeadQuarters efforts have made lasting changes when comparing how things were before the Block Blitz.
“It was not even safe to swing on the porch or anything,” said Doty. “It was just, you had to be careful. Crime rate has gone down. Around this particular area that we’re in, the crime rate has gone way down…They were drug dealing right out of the stores and everything and that has stopped. A lot of the bars that were around here have moved out. They’re gone. It’s more of a neighboorhood now than it used to be.”
Though the abandoned properties have since returned, Doty still appreciates the progress the neighborhood has made as a result of the neighborhood clean.
“They’ve done a lot of work for me and the whole neighborhood, not just me. Every time they do work in an area, the value of the homes go up. My insurance has gone up so I know the property value has gone up.”
Home HeadQuarters is still actively making improvements on Ontario Street in a continued effort to jump start the neighborhood again. They are currently building new homes in the neighborhood and continuing renovations on many of the abandoned properties leaving residents like Doty “very pleased.”