Genesee County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) has been working since 1990 to build, rehabilitate and repair homes in Genesee County. For our 2019 real estate issue, we wanted to highlight its accomplishments and those of its partnering Flint neighborhood groups.
“Although Genesee County Habitat for Humanity works throughout the county, we feel the work we have been able to concentrate throughout neighborhoods in the city of Flint, in collaboration with residents and partner organizations, has had the greatest impact,” executive director Margaret Kato says.
GCHFH focuses its work within specific neighborhoods to improve residents’ sense of place and community as well as overall quality of life. As part of the FlintBRAND (Building Resident Action by Neighborhood Design), it encourages residents to take ownership in creating meaningful improvements in their neighborhoods. GCHFH staff members work with neighborhood associations, block clubs and crime watch groups from design through implementation of projects with a cost cap of $10,000.
Here are some of its most recent endeavors in the city of Flint.
Urban Transformation Development revitalized Dewey Park in the northeast part of Flint near the North End Soup Kitchen.
• King Ave PLUS created the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Peace Garden on Martin Luther King Blvd. between McClellan and Genesee Streets and installed 26 flowerpots throughout the neighborhood.
• Brownell Holmes Neighborhood Association transformed an empty lot into a small literacy-oriented park and added signs and flowers to the neighborhood to create a sense of community.
• Ballenger Highway Neighborhood Association cleared dangerous overgrowth from 22 empty lots, creating a safer environment through improved visibility.
• Fairfield Village Neighborhood Association upgraded 41 streetlights to illuminate the area for increased safety.
• West Pulaski Block Club turned a vacant lot into a place for meetings, picnics, food giveaways and more.
• Historic Civic Park Preservation Association made a vacant lot into a music venue and held a three-day music festival featuring performers from the neighborhood.
• Foss Avenue Block Club tore down a dangerous house, cleared trees that could hide criminal activity and incorporated the lot into a pocket park.
• Mott Park Recreation Area Board made plans for a kayak launch in Mott Park to involve community members in enjoying the natural beauty of the Flint River and its environs.
Spotlight on Grand Traverse Neighborhood
Since 2008, Habitat has built 23 homes, provided repairs to 25 homeowners in the Grand Traverse Neighborhood, removed hundreds of tons of litter and cleared dozens of vacant lots. It has invested more than $500,000 in neighborhood parks and beautification in the Grand Traverse area. As a result there has been a 46 percent rise in area home value while the rest of the city’s home assessments showed a 31 percent drop. Further, it plans to make improvements to Memorial Park,wvw including a 10-station outdoor gym.
These projects have resulted in a feeling of safety, togetherness, mastery and better overall quality of life for the residents of these neighborhoods. “It has been an honor to be a small part of the hard work the residents of Flint have accomplished,” Kato says.