After nearly two years of meetings and brainstorming, an initiative led by Roxbury residents has unveiled short-term strategies to revitalize the neighborhood, in particular Warren Street.
Formed in 2011, the Mission 180 program has conducted several large community meetings and more than 100 interviews with residents. Now, it has identified several areas on which to focus funds and energy: economic development, community safety, housing and young adults, and arts, history, and activism.
“The main thing is we felt was there was a real hunger in the neighborhood to see some improvements in the short term,” said David Price, executive director of the Nuestra Comunidad Community Development Corporation, the group’s convening agency.
The strategies developed by the initiative aim to make an impact and have tangible results by the end of 2014.
“We have some great long-term planning goals, but our sense is people desire to not only see changes sooner, but they need those changes now,” said Price.
The four focus areas will be overseen by the group’s partner agencies, which include Teen Empowerment, Project RIGHT, the Madison Park Development Corporation, and Action for Boston Community Development.
The economic development group will look to stimulate the area’s economy through its Roxbury Innovation Institute and its “innovation challenge.”
The program, which has close to $130,000 to implement its strategies, is currently training 26 local entrepreneurs. Eventually the group will look to develop a more sustainable and permanent Roxbury Community Business Incubator to provide resources to the area’s small businesses.
The community safety group wants to reduce crime and improve quality of life in the neighborhood through grassroots events like neighborhood cleanups and crime watches. Close to $30,000 in mini-grants are expected to be distributed to local neighborhood groups as part of the program.
The housing and young adults group aims to tackle an all too common problem in the city: quality housing that young adults can afford.
“Many of the young adults in the group reported from their own experiences that there is a need in the community,” said Price. “Many of them can’t afford the market rate, so how do you subsidize the construction and make it work?”
That group, in partnership with the Madison Park Development Corporation, will use an estimated $15,000 to develop a feasibility study that can act as a guide for future development.
“We plan on taking that study to funders to get support,” said Price. “It will help us do that advocacy.”
The arts, history, and activism group will look to work on the neighborhood’s brand and make it a destination for both art and those that consume it.
“The idea is to use Roxbury’s rich history and vibrant art scene to promote the neighborhood as a cultural destination,” said Price. “We want to activate public spaces and create opportunities for artists to increase their income.”
In addition to promoting the area’s artists, the group seeks to help promote the artists’ businesses with small business trainings. The group has risen close to $15,000 to support its efforts.
Now the four groups must move past the planning stage and begin implementing their strategies, something Price said he is confident can get done. He, however, added that while implementation is important, keeping residents engaged is the goal.
“The fact that we’ve been able to raise some much money shows we have momentum,” said Price. “We had 200 people engage in the planning process and have a very active steering committee but I think we now need to reengage those 200 people.”
For more information about Mission 180 and its programs email David Bresnahan at email@example.com