Last weekend we worked with the Rainer Valley community to successfully pull off the first ever Rock the Block event! On Saturday, June 16th, we effectively closed off a community block to traffic for the day, opening it to teams of residents and other volunteers for a concentrated effort to improve the appearance, health, and safety of both private and public properties.

     While we are known for building homes, we strive to help engage residents in building the skills and activities to maintain and improve their communities through our Neighborhood Revitalization program that focuses on home preservation, safety and health initiatives. Under this program, we work with individual residents, local governments and established community organizations who understand the needs and goals of the neighborhood, to create long term solutions to affordable housing barriers with special regard to home repair and upkeep.

 Through the help of community residents, volunteers, staff, and AmeriCorps members, we were able to work with nine local families to address safety issues and curbside appeal. Repair projects included screen and window repair, fence repair, gutter cleaning, moss removal, power washing, tree pruning and more! We were especially happy to incorporate the “Good Glows Here” campaign by way of installing light posts to increase accountability and safety at night.

Throughout the event and afterwards participants particularly spoke highly of the opportunity the event provided to work with other community members. Participant Shirley Norris has lived in her home for over 20 years but only interacted with her across-the-street neighbors for the first time at the Rock the Block event. Homeowners Tom and Christina, along with their two-year-old son Oscar, look forward to seeing more collective community action and connecting with other residents again in the future.

     In addition to working directly in the neighborhood, we were able to host a dumpster that residents could use for some spring cleaning and a donation truck to haul away gently used items that can be repurposed at our Habitat Stores. One of the biggest scores of the day was a fairly large cabinet being propped up against a house, which we were able to remove for safety reasons. It was previously used as a prop in a trespassing when someone climbed on it to get through a high window in another neighbor’s home.

     Overall, the event served as a great kickoff to the forthcoming Rock the Block series! Check our calendar to keep up with upcoming events and see if we’ll be partnering with your neighborhood next.