San Antonio, Texas
Target Neighborhood: Eastside Choice Neighborhood
Designing for Safety in San Antonio
In 2017, CBCR leaders from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Kansas City, Missouri gathered with peers in San Antonio, Texas for a course in “SafeGrowth” facilitated by crime prevention expert Gregory Saville. Twenty police officers, municipal officials and community leaders from the three cities discussed how the physical, social and economic conditions of their communities can either fuel or prevent crime. They are now working in cross-sector teams on projects to put their classroom learning into action.
For the San Antonio team, the course builds on prior success in applying the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, better known as “CPTED”, to clean up one of the “hottest intersections in our area”, as described by Brooke Cranshaw, the CBCR program coordinator for the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA). Last summer, SAHA, along with public and private partners including many local residents, transformed two trash-filled, overgrown vacant lots used for prostitution and drug dealing into an open, safe community space now home to a community garden. Cranshaw’s team contacted the property owners and got a land-use agreement to rehab the lots for community events. AmeriCorps members helped organize resident volunteers from nearby homes and a local substance abuse rehab center. The conversion wasn’t just cutting down weeds and picking up trash. The police closed down an alley that ran through the site and served as an easy escape route for people engaged in illegal activity. Volunteers painted a mural on the side of the adjacent gas station, and the station’s owner installed new fencing, better lights and a security camera. San Antonio’s transit agency agreed to move a bus stop to be in view of camera, and the city has also added more lighting on the street. "It takes perseverance to get it all done,” Cranshaw says. “But it takes too long to make the changes with just one group. You have to find a way to get everyone to work collaboratively.”
In the months after the clean up, there were no violent incidents at the site, noted Cranshaw. A block party celebrating the new and improved space in November featured nearly 50 tables of local resources alongside zumba classes, a DJ, chalk art and a free barbeque. “So many kids had something to do that day in a safe environment,” Cranshaw says. “It was fantastic.”
View a video about the San Antonio’s “Resurgence Collaborative” – a multi-sector effort to improve outcomes for people on probation.
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