Eagle editorial: Changing lives, neighborhoods

06/04/2014 5:32 PM

08/08/2014 10:24 AM

Good for Habitat for Humanity for wanting to not only transform families but also transform a neighborhood.

Habitat announced last week that it is shifting its focus from creating “villages” of new homes to building houses on vacant lots in a blighted neighborhood. It has purchased six lots in the 1000 to 1200 blocks of North Poplar in northeast Wichita. Koch Industries is sponsoring construction of the first home beginning June 17.

Once homes are built on these lots, Habitat plans to expand in the same neighborhood.

“As one block experiences that kind of change with the housing, we’ll move on until we revitalize the entire neighborhood,” said Ann Fox, Habitat’s executive director in Wichita. “Our goal is to energize the cycle of home ownership.”

Home ownership helps provide stability both to families and neighborhoods. According to Habitat, children of homeowners are 25 percent more likely to graduate from high school, 116 percent more likely to graduate from college and 20 percent less likely to become teenage mothers.

Other Wichita groups, such as Mennonite Housing, are also involved in infill developments. These groups, Habitat and its many volunteers are changing lives.

As Janet Wilson, a community activist, said of Habitat’s plans for her neighborhood: “We’re going from blighted to beautiful.”

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee

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