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$1M grant designed to connect neighbors with services to fight crime on eastside

Near east side community center gets $1M grant to address root causes of crime

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A $1 million grant is designed to make a difference on the east side of Indianapolis.

Officials have talked to more than 1,000 neighbors to get their perspective, then matched it to crime data.

They’re working to address the root causes of crime to make a lasting difference.

They have identified five core drivers of crime, which they will be working to address in the next two years, divided into social and economic drivers.

The three economic drivers are poverty, lack of employment opportunities and housing — which includes abandoned buildings and absentee landlords. The two social drivers are lack of social support and health and well-being, which includes mental health and drug use.

But one thing that has been a small surprise has been realizing that so many neighbors don’t know where to turn when they need help.

The Community Based Crime Reduction grant comes from the Department of Justice.

It targets seven neighborhoods between Washington, Tenth, Rural and Emerson, home to 10,000 people.

Abigail Lane lives in one of them. By job and by choice, she came to the Englewood neighborhood more than two years ago.

She is the Great Places Coordinator with the Englewood Community Development Corporation which restores and rents out housing, as well as other efforts like an eviction prevention fund to help those who fall behind.

She believes the grant money will help the Community Development Corporation and other partners work together and see even more results.

“You really have to connect somebody at the right place and the right time to be able to plug into some of those resources,” said Lane.

Some of those resources are at the John Boner Neighborhood Center, which is administering the grant.

Alicia Baker is the director of Neighborhood Engagement.

“I get frustrated because there’s so much that happens over here beyond the violence,” Baker said. “I really want neighbors and people across the city to see the good things that are happening here, too.”

The focus now turns to taking those community conversations and lessons learned into action, which is why Baker thinks this grant will be successful.

“We are listening to neighbors too and that’s at the core of what we’re trying to accomplish here,” she said.

Because there are plenty of programs out there including those which can help with daycare, help with landlord issues and pay stipends to help those recently released from prison get certifications.

Each program has the potential of being exactly what is needed by someone to break the cycle of poverty or crime.

But until now, too few neighbors have known.

As a good neighbor, that’s what gets Lane excited.

“It’s just a little piece of the puzzle,” she said. “I don’t think anybody is expecting everything to change on the near eastside, nor do we want everything to change on the near eastside.”

That lack of knowledge of resources extends to police officers too, which is why part of the implementation will also focus on giving them insight to the available resources.

The grant team will submit its plan to the Department of Justice in the next six weeks. Once it’s approved, the funding will be unlocked to put it into motion.