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Homelessness, drug abuse, violence, prostitution – these are among the social problems that have left far too many once-proud neighborhoods in shambles. While it may be a simple solution for some to throw up their hands, move to another part of town and declare it “someone else’s problem,” thankfully there are dedicated people in Dallas who don’t agree.
Where some see problems, others see opportunities. Successful outreach programs are innovatively bridging longstanding gaps, creating blueprints for other communities to follow and paving the way for a more unified Dallas.
Reid Porter founded Advocates for Community Transformation, (ACT) a faith-based organization that helps empower local residents to become effective advocates for their own neighborhoods. Through legal advocacy ACT has helped remove crime-ridden properties in neighborhoods, shutdown dilapidated crack houses and enlisted organizations such as Builders of Hope, Habitat for Humanity and others to lend a hand in revitalizing neighborhoods.
Former real estate employee Will Dowell serves as executive director of Behind Every Door. This community outreach invests in C-grade apartment complexes and turns them into safe, affordable housing for low-income families. The Dallas ministry, together with residents and more than 30 area businesses, churches and nonprofits, form the heartbeat of the project, turning formerly crime-riddled housing into a safe communities.
The Men of Nehemiah is another life-changing community program in the Cornerstone Heights area, serving homeless and formerly incarcerated men with addictive disorders. Stephen Barnes is a board member, and longtime ministry volunteer. “The proof is in the pudding,” he says. “One hundred percent of the graduates leave with a job, and a bank account. And our low recidivism rates exceed the norm for these kinds of programs.”
Innovative programs such as these three, and many more, are making a difference, and bridging, not ignoring, the gaps in Dallas communities.
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