Blog Archives

“Communities Take Root” in South Phoenix

Last year St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit that provides food, health care, shelter and other services for the homeless and working poor won a grant through Dreyer’s Fruit Bars as part of their “Communities Take Root” Program to plant a fruit orchard at their downtown campus. The ceremonial planting is taking place next Thursday, March 24 at 11 a.m. at Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 420 W. Watkins Rd, Phoenix, Arizona.

50 fruit trees of varying types of citrus will be planted and will help beautify the area along 3rd Drive, just south of I-17 and also provide fresh fruit for the hundreds of working-poor families that come to St. Vincent de Paul’s Family Evening Meal program.

The schedule of events is:

  • 11:00 am:  Project overview and introductions (Society of St. Vincent de Paul: Fruit Tree Planting Foundation; Dreyer’s Fruit Bars)
  • 11:15 am – 11:30 am:  Ceremonial Tree Planting/Photo Opportunity
  • 11:30 am – 1:30 pm:  Tree planting; Dreyer’s Fruit Bars sampling

Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul, the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Dreyer’s will be on hand to plant the trees, with Dreyer’s providing refreshing Dreyer’s Fruit Bars to members of the community.


Roosevelt students celebrate Martin L. King Jr.’s birthday

In this know99 television segment, the Roosevelt School District in Phoenix honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a celebration involving every school in the district at one big event.

Church program seen as key to safer South Phoenix

[Source: Michael Ferraresi, Arizona Republic] — Sweating in the summer heat, volunteers moved boxes of donated food at the Bridge Church as others helped south Phoenix residents find clothes, jobs and government benefits.  Meanwhile, police officers watched briefly over the small crowd at the worship hall, which doubles as a human-services community center to serve more than 30 families a day in an area long stigmatized by gang violence.

Through partnerships with police and city leaders, the Bridge became a prototype for the renewal of south Phoenix.  It was the first of the area’s 90 churches to join the Neighborhood Roots System.  Police credited the increased faith-based involvement for a 39 percent drop in area homicides, as well as other crimes, since 2008.  Police have saturated south Phoenix with crime-suppression efforts in the past few years.  Now, officers and neighborhood activists are working to sustain the relationships they established years ago.  “When law enforcement is involved, I think businesses look at that as a positive,” said Jon Katov, CEO of non-profit Open Table Inc.  Katov said he was inspired to focus on south Phoenix after attending a service at a community church.

The Bridge is open 20 hours a week in an area where nearly 17,000 people live in poverty.  Katov said 20 other south Phoenix churches have already begun mimicking the Bridge.  He pointed to a small room filled with donated computers.  “Here, you’re looking at a job center inside a working church,” Katov said.  “To me, it’s a breakthrough.”

Churches have helped south Phoenix rebound from the wave of violent crime and gang-related homicides it suffered two years ago.  [Note: Read the full article at Church program seen as key to safer south Phoenix]

Phoenix residents debate Jackson Street Entertainment District impact

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson discusses the Jackson Street Entertainment District project at a recent PCU Coalition community forum.

[Source: Phoenix Communities United (PCU) Coalition] — PCU is a diverse and inclusive group consisting of neighborhood groups, students, religious and service organizations, and community leaders from Central and South Phoenix. Coalition members have been attending and will continue to attend various City of Phoenix meetings to voice their opinion on the zoning case for the Jackson Street Entertainment District.  The project is located in Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District, next to Chase Field, connecting south Phoenix to downtown.  The developers want to build a four-block entertainment district, including various entertainment venues, 1,000 units of market-rate housing, 150,000 square foot of retail, 150,000 square feet of office, and at least one hotel.

PCU has been organizing for months, and is working to ensure that this project positively impacts the surrounding community; and includes affordable housing, green standards, job opportunities for local residents; priority for local businesses, and support for community parks which are being shut down due to city budget cuts.

The next meeting in the development process is with the Phoenix Planning Commission. All interested residents are invited to attend:

  • Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
  • Time: 5:45 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Place: Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

For more information about this issue or PCU, contact Corrine Widmer via e-mail, phone 480-495-4738, or Facebook.

Metro Phoenix’s growing mortgage problem spreading

[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — Metropolitan Phoenix’s foreclosure problem has spread.  Many Valley neighborhoods closer in, particularly in south, west, and central Phoenix, now have the highest foreclosure rates, according to an Arizona Republic analysis of real-estate data from the Information Market.  Foreclosures across metro Phoenix number 16,647 for the first half of the year compared with 9,966 during all of 2007 and 1,070 in 2006.

Last summer, when foreclosures were just starting to climb, the highest rates of home defaults were found on the Valley’s more affordable fringes.  The problem worsened, hitting a wider swath of homeowners who bought at the peak of the housing boom through subprime loans.  Although some of the Valley’s fringe areas such as Surprise, Anthem, and Buckeye continue to have high foreclosure rates, the problem has moved inward.  “It has become more of an equity problem than a subprime problem,” said Tom Ruff, a real-estate analyst with Information Market. [Note: To read the full article, click here.  What’s the foreclosure rate in your zip code?  Click here to find out.]

Phoenix Councilman Nowakowski highlights resident “hot buttons”

In an interview with Arizona Republic reporter, Connie Cone Sexton, Phoenix City Councilman, Michael Nowakowski, highlighted several areas of concern expressed to him from residents living in and around downtown Phoenix.  Those top issues are summarized below:

Historic Neighborhoods and Downtown

  • Increase and improve streetscapes
  • Ability to walk down streets without being run down

Fairgrounds Vicinity

  • Reduce crime
  • Investigate interest/feasibility of moving the state fairgrounds
  • Create a sort of Biltmore area by extending the Encanto Golf Course to blend into the neighborhood

South Phoenix

  • Beautify and enliven the banks along the Salt River
  • Establish a retail and entertainment district (ala San Antonio’s Riverwalk)

City Council funds rehab of two South Phoenix historic buildings

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Phoenix] — The Phoenix City Council approved up to $168,755 in matching Historic Preservation Bond funds to assist Chicano Por La Causa (CPLC) with the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of two South Phoenix historic buildings as part of a small business incubator development project.  The project will convert the adobe 1879 Jones-Montoya House, the oldest known house in Phoenix, into an office and museum space, with the 1940 river rock-clad Webb Grocery to accommodate a small business use.