Living in Fairhill was not something originally planned for Melissa Dunbar. Dunbar, a 36-year-old, single mother who was raised in Fairhill, never had the intention to remain a resident of the neighborhood.
Despite working in Bucks County, about an hour outside of the city, at a nursing home, something about Fairhill, its streets, the energy and the community as a whole kept Melissa there to this day, where she lives alone with her 9-year-old son.
“It was never my idea of the perfect life to stay in Fairhill,” Dunbar explained, resting comfortably on her brown sofa with the sun light beaming across the room on to her face. “But once I actually tried to leave, it was close to impossible.”
A major downfall to residing in Fairhill is the number of abandoned houses. Driving through the area, it is hard to miss the overwhelming amount of abandoned houses and buildings. Some may see this as a huge negative for the community, while others don’t really notice it at all. Dunbar acknowledged the bad aspects of the surrounding streets, yet embraces what the community has to offer.
“At times the neighborhood isn’t safe and you have to be smart about wandering the streets at night or alone. It is a neighborhood that takes some getting used to. It isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing because there are such a large number of abandoned houses.”
On Dunbar’s street alone there are at least three abandoned houses, with the surrounding blocks having even more.
“It is a problem that needs to be dealt with in the neighborhood but one that doesn’t really bother me anymore. I grew up here, I know what the area is like and I don’t seem to notice the abandonment anymore.”
The community atmosphere that Fairhill has is one aspect that keeps her sticking around. From the different organizations and all that they do, to the vibe she feels when walking the streets and talking with neighbors. The neighborhood has a sense of togetherness that she has difficulty putting into words.
“There are so many different organizations and groups doing all that they can for the neighborhood. It’s a special feeling being a part of it.”