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A case for

HOME: Safe Neighborhoods I’m Linda, from the South Side. I’m a custodian, and my husband and I have a blended family of six kids. My brother was murdered by drug dealers. I put my sadness and my anger to work in cleaning up our neighborhood, which was so bad that you couldn’t see up the street for the addicts, gang members and prostitutes. I got together with some neighbors to found a Block Watch program, and we’ve spent countless hours tracking down absentee landlords and homeowners. United Way of Central Ohio helped us along the way with Neighborhood Partnership Center classes. With determination and cooperation, we’ve really cleaned things up, and the neighborhood is a safe place to live again. I stand strong in trying to turn neighborhoods around. That’s how I LIVE UNITED. COMMUNITY ISSUES: • Columbus is hollowing out. The inner ring lost nearly 10% of its population during the 1990s, while the outer ring grew by 41%. • There are over 4,500 vacant properties in Columbus. • There are 287 identified neighborhood groups in the City of Columbus. Only two of them have paid staff members to help keep their neighborhoods safe and their neighbors involved; the remaining neighborhoods operate completely on volunteers. OUR RESPONSE: • In 2008, United Way of Central Ohio awarded 53 grants totaling $300,500 for neighborhood improvement projects, engaging over 1,500 volunteers in community-based projects. • In 2007, United Way’s Neighborhood Training Academy completed 67 trainings for 739 participants. Workshop topics ranged from grant writing to urban gardening to crime prevention strategies. • United Way’s advocacy efforts were instrumental in the passage of HB 138 in the Ohio state legislature. This law will help reduce the growing number of vacant and abandoned properties in our communities, which can be havens for criminals and threaten the safety of our neighborhoods. OUR INVESTMENT: In 2008-09, we will invest nearly $500,000 in programs that build vibrant neighborhoods.