What began in 1995 as a glimmer of hope for a distressed Detroit suburb has now become a success story for how smart revitalization can transform even the worst of neighborhoods.For years, malaise had been a growing problem in the Carver neighborhood in the city of Westland, located some 10 miles due west of the Motor City. Property values were declining and a high percentage of the houses were rentals. Drugs and the crime that follows were common. Although adequately protected by police and fire services, most families felt disconnected from the city.
Westland city officials heard the pleas of residents and responded. Part of their response was their intention to seek funding for the community through HUD's CDBG and HOME programs. A partnership began with Peoples Community Hope for Homes, a local faith-based group. Local lenders agreed to provide mortgage assistance for both new and existing homeowners. A needs assessment was conducted and revitalization plan developed, which resulted in more applications for federal funds through the state's Neighborhood Preservation Program.
And with their perseverance came results. At the new Westshire Place Development Project officials can boast of:
- The purchase and rehabilitation of two existing homes, one of which was
a HUD home and the other was in the process of being sold.
- One home has been donated to the program, moved to the Carver neighborhood,
a foundation and basement built, and the home sold.
- Four new homes have been built and a fifth is underway. Three of the homes
have been sold.
- Some 38 additional lots have been purchased for future construction.
- And the PCHFH, through its church affiliation, has developed and is operating a charter school in the Carver neighborhood.
In addition, Westland city officials have added additional code enforcement officers to ensure the upkeep of structures, social and public service programs, transportation services and infrastructure improvements to roads, waterline and sewers.
City officials also created a Homebuyer Program to purchase both new and existing homes. Homebuyers must obtain a certification of completion for housing counseling prior to receiving a subsidy.
The revitalization efforts have also resulted in a new fire station, offering better fire safety and advanced life support to area residents, a part-time community policing office, and a neighborhood playground, providing increased recreational opportunities for families.