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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Florida

Best Practice: Habijax Lot Preparation

Habijax Lot Preparation Providing Homeownership to Families

Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville, Florida is a city with approximately 50,000 residents living in substandard housing, 75 percent of them children. Many of these residents are in substandard rental units. The city of Jacksonville was in immediate need of quality housing for low- to moderate-income residents.

Habijax Lot Preparation—a Habitat for Humanity project—provides homeownership for low- and moderate-income families who are unable to obtain home financing through conventional means. As a result of their revitalization efforts, 270 low- to moderate-income families are able to purchase newly constructed homes.

Photo of Roslyn Phillips receiving Best of the Best award
Roslyn Phillips (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

Since 1997, the city of Jacksonville has provided $900,000 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to Habijax, one of the most active local chapters of National Habitat for Humanity. Since October of that year, 50 of the 270 families assisted also received down payment assistance from the CDBG funds.

This project is being implemented in specific neighborhoods designated Intensive Care Neighborhoods by the Mayor, which assures that the city is implementing multifaceted revitalization projects in each neighborhood. The project has utilized more than $8.8 million of non-CDBG and non-state assistance, including $3.3 million in corporate contributions, on housing construction activities.

The project employs local and county agencies, private and public funding sources, along with the local Habitat for Humanity office to offer assistance to its participants in the form of construction and financial assistance. Homeowners also are required to contribute a small amount of sweat equity to purchase their homes. Habijax’s housing construction homeownership activities are implemented and financed through diverse volunteers and corporate sponsors—a major component of the revitalization efforts. Strong community support is vital for the operation of this program.

Habijax participants are committed to total neighborhood renovation as well as improving the local housing market. Their dedication to the community is vital to bringing the dream of homeownership to the local residents.

Contact: Roslyn M. Phillips, Phone: (904) 630-7030
Tracking Number: 1299
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

Best Practice: Cease Fire Tampa

Cease Fire Protecting Young Lives in Tampa

Tampa, Florida. Firearm safety campaigns can be more than just gun buy-back programs. The residents of Tampa, Florida have found a way to incorporate the whole community into a successful educational campaign about the dangers posed by firearm violence. This community approach, called Cease Fire Tampa, seeks to decrease the number of injuries and deaths due to firearm violence, particularly among children.

In 1998, representatives from area hospitals, law enforcement, private corporate sponsors, the Hillsborough County School System and local charitable foundations formed this broad-based community effort in Tampa.

Photo of Nancy Crane & Karen Nepenski receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Nancy Crane and Karen Nepenski receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

Since then, the group has developed a gun buy-back for unwanted guns, an innovative firearm safety education program for third graders, and an evening community education program for the entire family. Local department and grocery stores have awarded gift certificates to participants.

The most interactive and innovative component of this program is a firearm safety curriculum for third graders, developed by Tampa General Hospital’s MORE HEALTH program and assisted by the Tampa Police Department. In classroom demonstrations, MORE HEALTH instructors in partnership with local law enforcement officials, use hands-on materials, Mr. Bones the skeleton, an anatomy apron, and real x-rays to teach children how guns can harm their bodies. Over 4,000 third graders learned about the effects of gun violence in the 1999-2000 school year.

The third and final component of Cease Fire Tampa involves educating parents and children together. A community education program involves hands-on interaction between parents, local residents and children—with children teaching the adults the firearm safety tips they have learned in their classroom. At the end of this hands-on session free gun locks are offered to each family in attendance. Saving lives from senseless gun violence is the ultimate goal of this program. With the dedication and commitment from local citizens and businesses coupled with the cooperation of local law enforcement, Cease Fire is a program that can be replicated throughout the country.

The following poem was written by Judeen Motyneaux, a third grader at Dunbar Magnet School and a participant in Cease Fire Tampa.

  • A gun is no fun If you see a gun be sure to run
  • Never touch a gun You may not see the sun
  • Tell a grown up They will pick it up
  • Be cool and follow these rules A gun is a crazy tool

Contact: William J. Kalbas, Phone: (813) 228-2026 Ext. 2112
Tracking Number: 484
Winning Category: Geographic and Program (Community Builder)

Best Practice: HOPE VI

HOPE VI - More Than Housing in Durkeeville

Jacksonville, Florida. Economic redevelopment is ultimately about partnerships. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 1996 HOPE VI grant awarded to the Jacksonville Housing Authority to restore Florida’s oldest public housing development, Durkeeville. Built in 1936, Durkeeville had deteriorated from a vibrant place to live into a community unable to meet the daily needs of its aging residents. Through changing economic times residents aged, died or left the community, and businesses began to close—changing the dynamics of the neighborhood.

The Jacksonville HOPE VI project and its partnerships are intended to revitalize the Durkeeville community and create economic development by building the area’s first new shopping complex full of minority owned businesses, a Shands Medical Clinic, creation of the Durkeeville Historical Society, and rebuilding of the main thoroughfare—Myrtle Avenue.

Durkeeville’s has a rich history. Baseball great Hank Aaron played baseball in the J.P. Smalls Baseball Park located next to the housing development. Durkeeville was a vibrant community and a stable neighborhood full of small businesses, recreation, schools and churches. The Durkeeville Historical Society was formed in 1998, comprised of a group of neighborhood residents, with the purpose of educating future and present generations about their community. Trusted with the task of “establishing a sense of pride, preserving the past, documenting the present and planning for the future,” the society represents the history of Florida’s oldest housing project through pictures, oral histories, lectures, group tours, and other memorabilia.

The Jacksonville HOPE VI grant provided $1.4 million for restoration of Myrtle Avenue, the main thorough-fare through the housing project. The development caught the attention of the local electric company

as excitement about the Durkeeville project heightened. With an additional $2.4 million from the local electric company, Jacksonville Electric Authority, Myrtle Avenue was rebuilt to include better traffic access, landscaping and parking for its residents.

Economic redevelopment of the area has stimulated the growth of a five-plex shopping strip on Myrtle Avenue with minority ownership of the pizza delivery store, the Chinese take-out, the grocery store, the dollar store and a Shands Medical Clinic to serve residents. The shopping mall serves the needs of its community while providing $35,000 annually for the Jacksonville Housing Authority.

The HOPE VI project has created lasting partnerships among its residents and local businesses. From the start of the project the residents were involved in the planning process. It is efforts on this grass-roots level that enable a project like this to be duplicated. These invaluable partnerships will outlast and withstand the fluctuations of a changing economy and maintain a legacy all too important to be forgotten.

Contact: Elaine D. Spencer, Phone: (904) 232-2627
Tracking Number: 494
Winning Category: Program (Public and Indian Housing)


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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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