OCT. 24, 2011 – In a neighborhood where crime and neglect were once the only things visible to the casual observer, Unity Builders has taken a powerful stand and reclaimed the south side of High Point for its long-term residents and new families.
“The neighborhood was, in a word, terrible. Desolate,” said Bishop Terry Young, CEO/president of Unity Builders Inc. “Nothing had been done in that community in years. There were a lot of drugs, boarded-up houses, abandoned houses, prostitution. And it really was a menace.”
Through a productive partnership with the City of High Point, the South Side Neighborhood Association and the local police department, Unity Builders was able to enter the neighborhood in 2009 and begin to bring about real positive change.
Once they tore down the abandoned and blighted homes, they were able to present residents with a number of affordable floor plans from which to rebuild. The new houses dramatically transformed the landscape of the neighborhood and attracted new residents to the area. They also repelled the crime that had been a huge problem for the community.
“We’ve seen drug dealers and crack houses move out of the neighborhood,” said Young. “We were able to go in there and start demolishing old homes, tearing down and cleaning out. It’s been very rewarding to see that people really do want to see their neighborhood come back to life.”
The collaborative has a number of ideas for potential future developments in the south side neighborhood, including senior villas, townhomes and a More at Four child development center. Partners are working together to determine a strategy for development that will attract businesses and families back to the area and maximize the return on investment for partners, including the Initiative, which invests in Unity Builders.
In keeping with the spirit of community economic development, Unity Builders has taken steps to ensure that the residents of the south side feel a real sense of community. At the suggestion of the city’s Community Development Department and the neighborhood association, they built a community garden for residents to cultivate and enjoy.
“Our homeowners are involved and we’re trying to get more of them involved in it,” said Young. “It gives them another sense of pride in their community.”
While the new homes have attracted new families to the area, they have also brought back some familiar faces. “We’re getting new people as well as families that grew up there as kids and wanted to come back to be a part of what’s happening in the south side.”
The residents of the south side have embraced Unity Builders with open arms, Young said. “It’s great to see the seniors and to sit and talk with them about how excited they are. They remember when the neighborhood used to be thriving…they’re excited about watching it come back to life again.”