Taking their neighborhood back

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 2004

Times-Journal Writer

Several residents of George Washington Carver Homes gathered at the neighborhood’s community center Thursday night to learn how to stop the violence that occurs in their neighborhood nearly every day.

The meeting, hosted by the Selma Housing Authority, was the second in a series of ongoing discussions to help residents take back their neighborhood from gangs who think they control it.

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“We are going to start by reorganizing the Resident Council Association,” said Johnny Moss, executive director of the Selma Housing Authority.

“We are going to help residents take back their community and empower them to do things to make the community safe.”

Moss invited Willie Hereford, President of the State Resident Council Association, to offer his advice and help the local organization get started.

Hereford told residents that the most important part of cleaning up any community is involvement.

“Write newsletters, go door-to-door and bring unity the neighborhood,” Hereford said.

He also told residents to get to know those who live around them and encourage involvement in community service.

“You can do whatever it takes to get the community involved,” Hereford said.

Along with representatives from the Housing Authority, other guests the meeting included officers from the Selma Police Department and Councilwoman Jannie Venter.

Detective Jimmy Martin told the crowd that most people think there is no hope for GWC Homes, but that could change if residents took a stand against those who are causing trouble.

“There are people who say they are doing the best they can to get by, but that is not enough,” Martin said. ” You have to take a stand to get your neighborhood back.”

Martin further assured the residents that within the next year, they would see changes in the community.

Also at the meeting, Moss unveiled his new Neighborhood Watch program that could help both residents and police when a shooting occurs.

Each section of GWC Homes will be given a name-Red, White, Blue, We, See, You.

“The names of each section will be placed on the side each building plainly seen by police and residents,” Moss said. “People can call police and saw they saw a suspect run to a certain section.”

Venter said she attended the meeting not only because GWC Homes is in her ward, but also because she cares about the community.

“We have to get the community involved or it will not get any better,” she said. “If we put our minds together, this could be a great community.”

One resident of GWC Homes, Ovetta Williams, said she is tired of watching her neighborhood deteriorate.

“I have lived here for 52 years, since I was 19-years-old,” Williams said. “I grew up here and I raised my children here. This used to be a home. Now I’m scared, but nobody’s doing anything about it.”

With the election of the new Resident Council Association officers and the Neighborhood Watch plan, Moss and others are hoping the days of violence at GWC Homes are coming to an end.