8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home's Value
Neighborhoods are dynamic environments and go through ebbs and flows like most other things in the world. The recession and mass foreclosures of the past five years sped up this process in many communities across the county, and we're only now starting to see a gradual turnaround in neighborhoods that were all but abandoned by homeowners upside down on their mortgages. (See also: 25 Reasons Why It's Good to Know Your Neighbors)
If you've just moved into a new neighborhood or are worried about the state of a place that you've called home for years, here are eight strategies to help spark a revival.
1. Get Organized
Strong neighborhoods are built by motivated and organized neighbors. The first step in revitalizing a struggling community or establishing a great new neighborhood is to get organized. Here's how:
- Talk to homeowners and renters to learn more about the community and its specific challenges.
- Develop consistent communication channels.
- Set primary and secondary goals for your neighborhood.
- Schedule regular meetings that have clear agendas.
- Work with city officials to provide any additional infrastructure that may be needed or that could add to the quality of life of residents.
2. Light It Up
Adequate lighting is an often neglected part of creating a safe neighborhood. Functioning street lights, yard lights, motion-sensitive, and pathway lighting can help all residents feel safe — especially senior citizens, single parents, kids, and evening walkers and runners. Good lighting also supports neighborhood watch efforts and community policing initiatives.
The best neighborhoods reflect the pride and devotion of their residents. Take a critical look at the common spaces in your community. What could be done better? What areas could benefit from some good old-fashioned TLC?
Plant flowers, repaint fences, clean graffiti, design a community garden, and patch broken curbs or sidewalks. Before you know it, your neighborhood will begin to visually reflect the energy, vitality, and hard work of its residents.
4. Develop Social Spaces
People congregate more easily when there's a designated commons or social space. Consider what areas in your neighborhood could become a hub for get-togethers, warm-weather meetings, or potlucks. Is there a vacant lot that could be landscaped or turned into a temporary community park with the owner's permission? Is there a nearby city park within easy walking distance that could become your neighborhood's unofficial gathering place? Get creative; explore what works in your area and make it part of the fabric of your neighborhood's identity.
5. Watch Out for Each Other
Formal and informal neighborhood watchdog programs are an essential component of creating a safe and secure community. Whether part of a small town or large urban area, watch programs promote an "it takes a village" attitude to community safety. (See also: Why Don't People Share More?)
Encourage participation from all residents and set up a clear process for escalating minor and major issues. If your neighborhood is challenged by consistently high crime rates, let local law enforcement know about your program and work with them to refine your program's safety strategies.
Secure a street closure permit from your city and throw a party. Labor Day or Halloween celebrations can include all the classic ingredients — potluck dinners, bobbing for apples, egg tosses, face painting, and live music. Celebrating responsibly together encourages neighbors to mix and mingle in a casual and light-hearted environment — building the bonds and personal relationships that help move other community initiatives forward. (See also: Throw a Swap Meet Party)
7. Establish Clear Communication Channels
Use technology to keep everyone in the loop. Establish an email distribution list or monthly e-newsletter for your neighborhood. Include regular posts about neighborhood news, events, issues, and crime reports. Take a broader editorial perspective and examine how city and county news could affect your neighborhood. For older or non-wired residents, add a snail mail option for the newsletter and organize a phone tree so they can be included in last-minute meetings or events.
8. Host Regular Events
You don't need a street closure permit for a casual neighborhood potluck or yard sale. Regular events help keep neighborhood residents engaged, talking to each other, and focused on building a better and safer community. As you organize and schedule regular events, don't forget about the elderly members in your neighborhood; solicit volunteers to provide whatever logistical support they may need to fully participate. (See also: 5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth)
Great neighborhoods feel like little villages within larger towns, providing residents with a sense of identity and community. And better neighborhoods are built one step at a time through a combination of organization, determination, and simple face time. Residents that successfully revitalize their communities' past and reshape their futures take a proactive approach, managing neglected aspects of their neighborhood and engaging the talents, skills, and energy of each resident.
Have you connected with your neighbors? What's worked to bring your community together?