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Letter: Thank community coalition for Regent Park resurrection

The Detroit News
Richard Gray Jr. helps clear out branches Sept. 20 during a Regent Park Community Association clean-up day in an alley in the northeast Detroit neighborhood.

George Hunter's article (“Once Detroit's deadliest ZIP code, 48205 sees progress,” Sept. 30), draws attention to improvements in safety and livability of Detroit’s Regent Park community.

As a former resident of Detroit (in the ZIP code just a few blocks outside 48205), I lived, shopped, played ball, ate with my friends and roamed on foot or bike throughout the Regent Park area for over two decades. I left when conditions became manifestly unsafe.

Certainly, improving deteriorating properties and policing have been important to reducing crime. However, there is a broad coalition of community groups, residents and entrepreneurs that has been working together for well over a decade to improve conditions in this area. Hunter's article understates the valiant, if not heroic, efforts these groups have made and which should have been acknowledged in more detail. 

One of these groups, called LifeBUILDERS, has acquired and preserved nearly 60 properties, among them a formerly abandoned public school building that they transformed into a $1.2 million, state-of-the-art, early-childhood education center.

Responsible home-ownership grants and lending programs combined with individual mentoring of the families in this area have spurred and revitalized the area. 

Trust is being restored among neighbors along with a passion to work side by side on common goals. These are the roots of community, the building blocks of the stable and prosperous neighborhood, which Regent Park can once again become.

Policing and blight reduction programs are certainly necessary components toward community development. Providing hope with meaningful change is essential.

James Dunn

Sterling Heights