A community-wide project improving the health and quality of life of low-income households by carrying out vital home repairs and revitalising community spaces has today been named a Bronze Award Winner in this year’s World Habitat Awards.
The #GreenNFit Neighbourhood Rebuild, run by the Revitalize Community Development Corporation, brings together thousands of volunteers from the local community to renovate one city block on a single day each year, over 10 years.
In the Old Hill Neighbourhood of Springfield, Massachusetts, 4,371 people have benefitted from the programme which was completed this year. This included repairs to 191 homes, development of a playground and two new community gardens, clearing of 33 vacant lots, and upgrades to five non-profit facilities and a school for at-risk students.
The city of Springfield is one of the poorest and most ethnically diverse communities in the state of Massachusetts, with almost one-in-three (29.7%) people living below the poverty line. The city’s housing stock is old, with a number of challenges, including moisture, cold and pest problems.
Delores Culp, whose home was badly damaged in a tornado, said: “Trees fell on my house. I had holes in the roof where the trees came through my bedroom and water coming through all of the light fixtures. My kitchen cabinets were knocked off the wall. It was a mess. Revitalize CDC came out to my house a day after the tornado to make sure I was all right. They helped me find honest contractors. Insurance did not cover all of my expenses to rebuild my house. That’s where Revitalize CDC helped me.
“They changed my life. All these people came to my house to help me. It was bigger than I could ever imagine. It was overwhelming to me. I started off being helped, then I became a volunteer!”
David Ireland, Chief Executive of World Habitat, said: “The USA is one of the richest countries but many communities have been ‘forgotten’. What’s inspirational about this project is that a whole community has been mobilised to work together to make their neighbourhood a great place to live.”
The World Habitat Awards judging panel said: “It is impressive to see how they use returning volunteers to reduce social inequalities and destigmatise communities. The issue of aging homeowners, who cannot afford to maintain and repair their homes, is increasing and this initiative illustrates how a community can mobilise to address this and support their neighbours. It’s an interesting approach revitalising and transforming both homes and empty public spaces.”
Each year the World Habitat Awards are presented to the most outstanding and innovative housing projects from across the world. In 2019 almost 200 projects and programmes entered the Awards.