“We’re starting to see the kind of activity we set out to try and spark,” says Othello Meadows, president and CEO of Seventy-Five North, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. “We’ve had several block parties and always have events going on in the neighborhood. It’s starting to feel alive and like a real thriving community.”
The Highlander project is fashioned heavily after the Purpose Built Communities Model pioneered in the mid-1990s in Atlanta, Georgia to address deeply rooted issues of intergenerational poverty, safety, high crime and failing schools in the area’s East Lake Neighborhood. It proved a huge success seeing violent crime down 95%, adults earning incomes over the poverty line up tenfold, fifth grade students meeting the state standards for math up from 5 to 95 percent and the high school graduation rate up from 30 to 78 percent. Purpose Built Communities are being developed in more than 10 cities nationwide, including Omaha.
“The housing is the most visible thing people see and plays an important role in the fact that you really stabilize a community by building high-quality housing that is economically diverse,” Meadows says. “But there are two other components to the model that are equally if not more important.”