Jewish World Review Aug 6, 2012 / 18 Menachem-Av, 5772
'100 Houses:' Help board up danger
By Mitch Albom
They are lurching shadows that stare down our city's children as they walk to school. There's a real home; there's a shell of a house. There's a neighbor; there's two shells of houses. A child wonders who just ducked behind a smashed window, or why that doorway is wide open.
The child is scared -- with good reason.
And we need to stop it.
Board up 100 houses in a single day.
That's right, 100 houses.
We can do this. In a way, we must. Because The Abandoned Home has become a terrible symbol of
When one house like that goes down, it affects the block. When many go down, it affects the neighborhood. Families leave. They walk away.
And what's the result?
Another abandoned house.
Several times over the last few weeks, we rode and walked the streets of the chosen "100 Houses" neighborhood, around
Most were once fine homes. Now they are bent, broken, peeling, knocked full of holes.
"What are you all gonna do?" we were asked by teenagers and middle-aged men, who wandered over in curiosity.
"We're going to board these up," we answered.
"About time," came the frequent response.
And it is. Look. We're not kidding ourselves that this is a permanent solution. That will come when these structures are knocked down or refurbished and occupied by hopeful citizens rebuilding their neighborhoods.
But if we don't patch up the blocks that still hold families, there may not be neighborhoods to rebuild. The city doesn't have the money. It won't for some time. There are an estimated 40,000 abandoned structures in the city, and, according to a
The state Legislature and governor have allocated
So we need to kick in. Human capital can best make our city human again.
That's you and me. Here is the number to volunteer for the "100 Houses:" 1-866-992-GIVE.
Are you up for boarding up?
Already, several generous and civic-minded companies have jumped on board "100 Houses." Bolyard Lumber in
We are looking for volunteers. You needn't be an expert, just willing to help. The event will start at
The number: 1-866-992-GIVE. Or go to 2atimetohelp.org.1
No, we won't fix the city in a day. But there will be 100 fewer dark and shadowy dangers to kids who head back to school in a few weeks. You start with 100, you see where it takes you. Maybe someplace great.
At the very least, in the right direction.
See you on the 25th.
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