Friday, October 16, 2009

Block By Block

I haven't written about the flood recovery in a couple of months. That doesn't mean that it is over. Not by a long shot. Today I want to introduce you to a community effort that is really making a difference in the Time Check area that I spoke of last spring. That effort is called Block by Block.

Block by Block is a program created by a coalition of the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub, Four Oaks, and the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church. Here is how they describe it on their website.
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What is the goal of Block by Block?

More than a year after the historic flood on June 13, 2008, there are still hundreds of Cedar Rapids homes uninhabitable or unoccupied. This has led to safety issues and larger concerns; what will happen long-term to affected neighborhoods and the people who live there?

The community needs a visible, immediate sign that there is organized progress.

Block by Block is a solutions-based, relationship-building approach that identifies and assists neighborhoods that want to come back to life. The program builds on the tremendous work already done by blocks, providing resources to make each property on the block fully habitable. Once an area is identified and a construction plan is set, private dollars, paid oversight and volunteer labor will rebuild the neighborhoods one block at a time.

The Block by Block development strategy is designed to create hope and encourage all property owners on the block to either reinvest in their property or arrange for a solution other than abandonment.

The goal is to complete eight blocks by the end of the 2009 calendar year. Limiting factors may include block participation, funding and weather-related delays. The real solutions come from within the block and work outward; each neighborhood moves forward by working together, communicating their needs at neighborhood meetings and supporting each other to bring back their block.

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The money to start this program came from private funding. The initial seed money came from

John & Dyan Smith $1M

Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation $700K

United Methodist Church $200K

The goal is simple - go block by block to coordinate and support residents to reclaim their neighborhood. Nobody is required to participate and each homeowner is responsible for their own renovation. But the focus and the support has been a great asset to the homeowners. As you might imagine, participation has been very high in each block. I see on their website that the initial goal was to complete 8 blocks this first summer. I have been told that number has grown as the success of the program has become clear and many more blocks are wanting to be a part of this program.

There is still a great deal of work ahead before we can claim to have recovered from that flood last summer. But it will be programs like this and efforts of groups from within our community that will make that recovery happen.

Please keep our community in your prayers and as always, I wish you

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