Neighborhood Pride is a combined effort between the city of Columbus and its communities that lives up to its name.
According to Bruce Black, coordinator of the Neighborhood Pride Program, the program is a way for the city to complete everything they would normally do in three to five years in a period of five days.
Six areas in Columbus were selected for Pride this year, and a section of the Hilltop was one of those areas. Residents living between Sullivant Avenue and Mound Street and Highland and Columbian avenues will celebrate Neighborhood Pride Sept. 15-19.
According to Black, an area of the Hilltop has been selected for the program for seven out of the eight years Pride has been in existence.
During Pride week, the selected area will experience an intense delivery of services, including cleaning alleys, mowing high grass in public right-of-ways and recreational areas, replacing burned-out street lights and evaluating housing exteriors for code violations. The city will also fill potholes, sweep streets, remove graffiti from public property, paint fire hydrants, inspect and repair catch basins and trim or remove problematic trees within the public right-of-way.
Pride week is intended to bring pride to the community by providing residents with a cleaner, safer place to call home.
Also according to Black, citizen participation is a vital component in the Pride program.
“The key to this program is the community,” said Black.
Prior to Pride week, city representatives tour the Pride area, driving each street and alley. During this tour, they take note of problem areas and each issue they feel needs to be addressed during the course of the program. Also prior to the event, city officials speak with community members and hear resident concerns for the area.
Warnings will be issued for code violations as a result of the pre-Pride work, and any households with uncorrected problems will be issued citations the week of Neighborhood Pride.
Black added that while most residents are glad to see Pride in their area, many are not.
“People get cited,” he said.
Schedule of events
The Neighborhood Pride Service Center will set up at Glenwood Recreation Center, 1925 W. Broad St., from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day of the event.
A Pre-Pride meeting will be held at that location on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. for citizens to learn more about what will occur during Pride.
Lunch will be served each day at noon and is free and open to community members.
The Neighborhood Safety Academy is scheduled for Sept. 16, 6-9 p.m. at Glenwood. This will be conducted by the Columbus Division of Police and will focus on how to recognize and prevent gang activity in your neighborhood.
Mayor Coleman’s Community Night will take place Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. at Glenwood. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman will be attendance, along with the directors of all city departments.
“Whether or not they live in the Pride area, residents need to come see Mayor Coleman,” said Black. “Those are the voices the mayor needs to hear.”
Help for homeowners
Homeowners on the Hilltop who feel stressed by the demand to bring their home into compliance with city code will be able to find help during Neighborhood Pride Week.
Home repairs are often not cheap, but the city is helping residents in need find the finances they need to make their homes safe.
Home Safe and Sound (HSS) is a federally funded program through the city of Columbus meant to financially assist low-income homeowners live in a safe environment.
According to Rita Parise, a representative of the program, applicants may be eligible for three percent loans, zero percent loans of up to $25,000 for essential home repairs. Grants may also be awarded in certain cases.
To qualify for these low or no interest loans or grants, the household must fall at 80 percent or less of the area’s median household income.
Only single family homes qualify, and residents must have lived in their homes for at least one year. Also, property taxes must be current.
Work funded through HSS includes correcting lead paint hazards and code violations, repairing or replacing roofs, furnaces or basement walls, and correcting substandard or deteriorating conditions. The program can also be used for improving safety, accessibility and energy efficiency.
Several city-licensed contractors work through the program. Approved homeowners will receive bids from three program contractors chosen at random, and the homeowner is free to choose which of those contractors they will use.
“It’s really a collaboration between the homeowner and the city to decide what’s best for all of you,” said Parise.
Approximately $1 million has been allocated to the program this year, according to Parise.
HSS rotates with Pride areas each year.
Any resident living within a Pride area can sign up through march 31, 2009 by calling 645-8526. Representatives will also be available to answer questions and help with the application process at the Glenwood Recreation Center from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. during Pride week.