by Jim Wehner
For eleven years, I have had the privilege of watching FCS transform neighborhoods block by block. This process means creating wholesome, viable, and sustainable mixed-income housing, and it is a cornerstone of FCS’ community development model.
It might go without saying that an under-resourced neighborhood has to deal with blighted, abandoned properties. But that reality is not FCS’ main reason for repairing, renovating, and building homes in communities other builders avoid.
Positive neighborhood change begins with neighbors. They are present day in and day out, know the intimate needs of a community, and have insightful ideas based on their proximity. Therefore, stable, healthy, and committed neighbors are one of the most powerful gifts we can give to our community.
In Historic South Atlanta, we have multiple examples of blocks that were previously vacant, blighted, and dangerous that are now completely different. But transformation is not simply a result of removing blighted buildings and cleaning up yards and vacant land. But Once that work is done, the block will return to its former state without a committed individual or family in place.
When we add the secret ingredient of committed neighbors to these cleaned up spaces, something amazing happens as a former place of isolation and despair becomes filled with life and vibrancy that only a neighbor can bring.
Take Bowen Avenue for example! Bowen Avenue runs through the southern portion of our neighborhood. To call the area rough would be a compliment. We have neighbors living there amid vacancy, vagrancy, drug activity, and difficulty.
So we have begun quietly acquiring properties on this block. We will rehab some homes to create both rental and home ownership opportunities. We will tear down and rebuild others that are too unsafe to salvage. This work will create space for another six committed neighbors who will become the agents of transformation on their block. This strategy of neighboring is vital to creating flourishing neighborhoods where God’s Shalom is present.
Does this transformational work get you excited? There are three ways you can get involved right now (or at least start the conversation)!
We have an investment fund that helps us maintain the capital necessary to do the work of housing. Some investors have been with us for seven years! If you are interested in changing our community by investing with FCS and earning a modest rate of return, contact me.
You might be sensing a call to become a strategic neighbor in historic South Atlanta. Contact Cynthia or me and come look at the houses we are offering.
This faith-based work requires a team of committed donors. If you would like to give to support this housing work, you can donate online. If you’d like to discuss the idea of supporting FCS or better understand how we use your charitable gifts, please contact me. FCS turns every dollar you give into two dollars in program services, such as jobs, homes, or businesses.
I’m excited about the transformation to come in 2018. The hard work of acquiring properties is behind us, and I’m looking forward to the demolition, renovation, and rebuilding of homes ahead of us this year. We’re creating space for committed neighbors, and neighbors transform communities.