Weinland Park (pop. approx. 4800) is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city of Columbus. Its residents are of various ethnic, cultural, racial, socio-economic, religious and educational backgrounds. As it transforms, however, from a neighborhood of last resort (one formerly plagued by drugs, gangs, substandard housing, low performing schools and high poverty) to a mixed income neighborhood of choice (where people want to live, work, worship or attend school), a key concern is the displacement of residents and gentrification.
To address these concerns, Extension plays an integral role in helping to preserve diversity in the neighborhood by:
- Offering free HUD-certified home-buyer education workshops, including individual counseling
- Serving on the Weinland Park Collaborative, a group of community, civic, corporate, collegiate and church partners working together to revitalize the neighborhood
- Offering free Financial Literacy training and counseling to area residents
- Connecting residents to financial resources needed to obtain, maintain and retain their homes
- Providing supportive services to homeowners and renters in the neighborhood
- Assisting in the formation of Block Clubs, thereby giving residents a voice in the development of their community
As the demographics continue to change, Extension continues to respond to community needs by adapting new tools and methods to promote the diversity of the neighborhood. The goal is to create a sustainable community where all residents have opportunities to work and live together in a way that improves outcomes for all.
(Submitted by Susan Colbert, Program Director, Franklin County Expansion and Engagement)