Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area and local law enforcement leaders were recently recognized with a national award for improving the safety and vitality of neighborhoods in the Metro Jackson area. Habitat and its partners were selected from more than 540 applicants for a $20,000 MetLife Foundation Award. They were honored for demonstrating that blighted neighborhoods such as MidCity/Georgetown and Englewood Gardens can be revitalized.
The Metro Jackson safety collaboration contributed to an average 55 percent reduction in crime within the targeted areas of the project. The national selection committee awarding the prize recognized the effective way Habitat and its partners worked together to reduce crime while creating high quality homes.
Habitat hopes that its award-winning success will lead to more accomplishments as it finds other creative means to achieve its mission to build affordable houses that are then sold to families at cost with no profit or interest. Since its founding in 1986, HFHMCA has partnered with more than 580 families to build homes in the capital area.
Cindy Griffin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area, said: “We continually seek to replicate, strengthen and expand the kinds of community partnerships recognized by this award. A collaborative, strategic approach is critical to ensuring that neighborhood revitalization is achievable and sustainable. We are always striving in these partnerships to utilize creative problem solving, and we believe by collaborating we can seek more creative and effective solutions.”
Griffin said the prize money that came with the MetLife award will help Habitat carry on its operations.
“The cash award will be used to sustain our Community Safety Initiative which is critical to revitalizing blighted, decaying neighborhoods and sustaining that transformation,” she said.
Griffin said Habitat also seeks operating funds by working closely with its Board of Directors and Advisory Board “to share our mission with the community. Everyone deserves a safe, decent place to live, through a hand up, not a hand out.”
When Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area absorbed the Madison County Habitat affiliate in September 2013, it changed its name to Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area. As Habitat’s service area has grown, its role has evolved, Griffin said.
“Prior to our absorbing the Madison County affiliate, Habitat for Humanity Metro Jackson, as we were known then, had built 560 homes and rehabilitated and/or weatherized 155 plus homes, making us the largest single family housing developer in Jackson,” Griffin said.
Community support helped make the expansion into Madison County a smooth one, Griffin said.
“When the absorbing of the all-volunteer Madison County affiliate was announced, we were welcomed by community leaders there. Canton Mayor Arnel Bolden said the merger affected his community in a very positive way. When there is improvement in residential life, there is improve in the quality of life for the entire community.”
Griffin said more people are learning about Habitat and its programs, and what it means to a community.
“More and more residents and leaders in Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties are recognizing the role we play in making a difference in the lives of individual families as well as contributing to the economic base of the community,” she said. “For every dollar spent on HFHMCA builds, an additional $1.70 is generated into the local economy.”
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