|Friends of the Hilltop is one of the local organization that volunteers its time to abate graffiti, as seen tagged on the business above on Sullivant Avenue.|
Westside residents hope legislation adopted by Columbus City Council will help in their fight against graffiti.
This summer, city council helped develop a competitive grant program with $200,000 from the neighborhood initiative fund.
The grants will fund the removal of graffiti from occupied structures, according to city documents.
The program was developed by Council members Zach Klein and Michelle Mills in response to community feedback, according to an open letter released this summer.
Grants are distributed through the Coalition for a Non-violent Columbus.
“The program is a one-two punch,” Klein said. “The first is the graffiti abatement program where money is appropriated for contractors to clean up graffiti on people’s property.”
Residents may call 311, the city of Columbus service line to get the ball running, Klein said. Then a code officer is sent out along with a waiver from the city attorney’s office allowing a contractor to complete the graffiti abatement.
“If it is something they are not physical or financially able to do, they can take advantage of the graffiti abatement program,” Klein said.
The grants provide supplies to organizations, too, Klein said.
Applicants could receive up to $5,000 to purchase items like power washers, hoses or cleaning solutions. The grant may also be used toward supplies for creating a community mural.
“Some community groups have reached out to art organizations,” Klein said. “Murals are a nice addition to a neighborhood.”
A decision is expected soon on who will receive the funding, Klein said.
The Friends of the Hilltop (FOTH) TAG team is one group that has fought graffiti. TAG stands for “Together Against Graffiti.”
“We have a power washer, paint and all the other things needed to remove graffiti,” said Gary Baker, II, president of FOTH and Columbus City School board member.
FOTH members remove graffiti by power washing the buildings or by painting over the graffiti, Baker said.
He said graffiti has become a larger issue over the last few years and community groups have worked with the city to combat its affects.
Donations allowed the group to purchase a power washer and chemicals, Baker said. He added, they have abated at least three dozen buildings in the last five years.
“Some of them are really big, some are small,” Baker said. “We have a good process in place.”
FOTH applied for two grants. One was to expand its graffiti removal program and a second to create a mural at Hope Park.
“We are excited about the grant opportunity the city has given to us,” Baker said.