Residents of Haddington, Morris Park, Cathedral Park and Carroll Park met last week as part of a community outreach program initiative to discuss the state of their communities.
HMC2 , a local organization which bridges together the four neighborhoods, facilitated the monthly meeting. At each meeting, held on the fourth Thursday of the month, different organizations are delegated to host the meeting.
“We have a preset agenda to select topics at the meetings. We have speakers on global topics that will reflect on our community,” Jackie Carlton, an active member of HMC2, said.
Community leaders, officers of local police departments, members of the Women’s Revitalization Group and church members arrived in the masses and filled the sanctuary of Sweet Union Baptist Church at 1536 N. 59 St. to capacity.
At the start of the monthly meeting, new members were made to stand, so they could be acknowledged as part of the efforts to better the four communities.
“Look at the growth that has happened,” Pastor Zach Ritvalsky said. “We were in an auditorium which seated about 300 to 400 and had only six people in attendance. We had more police attending than other community members.”
HCM2 has grown exponentially since holding its first meeting last November. The organization now has over 250 attendants. The initial meetings were held in the auditorium of Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus at 5301 Media St.
“We see a lot of young people from 18 to 30, which is good because we are getting older and at some point we’re going to have to let them do the leadership role in the community that we are doing,” Carlton said. “So we’re training them with the skills to take on.”
After recognizing the new attendees, Pastor Wade Jackson read the organization’s revised mission statement, which included emphasizing the importance of the quality of life in their communities in addition to making sure all the problematic areas are brought to light.
During last month’s meeting, members created the Mondragon transformation model, which is an approach to change within the neighborhoods.
The model was presented at Thursday’s meeting in a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and outlined issues such as residential development, community organization, commercial development, education and community involvement.
“Challenges like poverty, high unemployment, poor schools, deteriorating housing and the feeling of hopelessness among people are what we are striving to change,” Jackson said.
Half an hour into the meeting attendees split into breakout groups where they discussed how residents would benefit from transformation model and possible challenges which may arise when applying the model to their individual neighborhoods. Members then shared what they discussed in the front of the room.
Some suggestions which arose from the breakout groups were: having more community watch programs, additional programs to involve unemployed and retired residents. Residents also expressed concern about the state of schools in the area.
Another cause of anxiety for residents and community leaders are the property taxes which will take effect in the upcoming tax year.
“I got my AVI assessment and it’s way up,” Eloise Young, a member of the communications team for HMC2, said. “It’s something I’m concerned about. I work everyday but some of my neighbors are older and face the same hike as I do, but they live on fixed incomes. People may lose their homes.”
The Actual Value Initiative is a program for the assessment of all land and buildings, according to the Office of Tax Assessment. The initiative calculates the current market value of real property based off of factors such as the size and age of a property, location, condition and the property’s use. AVI will take effect in the 2014 tax year.
Residents will be able to voice their concern in a March 28 tax assessment meeting before state officials. The meeting will be held at the Christian Stronghold Church at 4701 Lancaster Ave.
Constantly reiterated throughout the meeting was the need to increase community involvement and resident awareness, which stand at the heart of the community outreach organization’s mission. By doing so, residents and members of the organization hope to resolve prevalent issues in their communities.
HMC2 will host its next meeting on March 28 at Sweet Union Baptist Church.
Featured speakers include representatives from the City Planning Commission, who are scheduled to speak about Philly 2035.
The project is a comprehensive plan of development throughout the city, which will vastly affect the quality of life within these neighborhoods.