When it comes to making a community safer, no one knows what’s required better than the people who live there. Combine resident expertise with the problem-solving experience and connections that a trusted partner can provide and you’ve got a recipe for greater safety and community cohesion. Virginia LISC has been deeply engaged with neighbors to combat crime and increase safety in the Northside area of Richmond for years, and 2017 marked a series of milestones for the neighborhood.
Northside has historically endured high rates of crime, and in extensive meetings and conversations with LISC, residents have routinely cited lack of safety, as well as the perception of the neighborhood as unsafe, as a top concerns.
LISC’s multipronged, resident-driven approach ranged from tackling the physical conditions that drive crime, such as blighted properties and vacant lots, to economic development, to housing. Last year, LISC invested more than $100,000 in business façade renovation, capacity building for nonprofits and for starters, provided capacity support to Storefront for Community Design, a local enterprise that works with residents to use design to revitalize and create opportunity in Richmond.
With Virginia LISC’s help, Storefront worked on façade improvements on the commercial corridor in the Highland Park neighborhood, held regular community cleanups and addressed three crime hot spots, in one case turning an unused parcel of land in the Gilpin Court neighborhood into an urban farm.
As part of the capacity building with Storefront, Virginia LISC connected the group with a national LISC training in CPTED practices—Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design—the very strategies of adjusting the built environment to deter crime that Storefront had been testing on their own with resident involvement.
Virginia LISC connected the neighborhood with housing partners such as project: HOMES, Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together to target housing revitalization in high-crime areas. Virginia LISC also forged a partnership with Capital One, and launched a grant program—"6 BIZ"—that provided small businesses on the commercial corridor with $5,000 to $10,000 grants for exterior renovations.
And finally, Virginia LISC played a pivotal role in bringing Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), a nonprofit housing developer from D.C., to the Northside of Richmond to convert a vacant school into Highland Park Senior Apartments, a complex of 77 senior apartments and services for seniors. Residents moved into the newly renovated units in 2017, and CPDC is now working on developing two more parcels of land directly across the street from the Highland Park project.
“LISC putting in capital upfront in the Highland Park commercial corridor has meant we have seen pretty quick change in the businesses and that reflects on to the neighborhood.” said Ryan Rinn, executive director of Storefront. “Residents and business owners are excited. The changes have opened up an honest dialogue of what they want in their community.”
Photo credit: Taylor Dabney
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Candice Streett
One Monument Avenue
413 Stuart Circle, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23220