The City of Tulsa is trying a new idea to revitalize neighborhoods that need some help.
Community leaders said your neighborhood environment can significantly impact your overall quality of life. The city’s new Vibrant Neighborhoods Partnership Program aims to use federal and other public investment funds to help neighborhoods in need prosper. Emily Scott with the Tulsa Planning Office said they've selected areas across the city that are eligible to apply for the program.
"This program looks to really holistically improve the physical, economic, social, and service environment of a neighborhood,” said Scott, neighborhood revitalization planner.
The city uses different housing market indicators to find places that are ripe for improvement. Scott told News On 6 they also look at social concepts like crime and safety, education and employment levels, and health and wellness.
“We drill down a little bit further and start to understand what some of those neighborhoods might need,” Scott said.
Scott said they're leaning on community partners like Katie Plohocky who can provide things the city can't.
"Being able to help the community pull themselves up and to create the opportunities that they want and not what we think they need,” said Plohocky, executive director of the Healthy Community Store Initiative.
Plohocky said she's developed a strategy to decentralize the food system and rebuild it locally.
“To build capacity and infrastructure of our local farmers, take advantage of economies of scale by combining the small store format’s buying power to be able to access wholesale distribution, and we would act as the distributor to our food hub and create on-ramps for value, added opportunities for new business development, that would then supply inventory for the stores,” Plohocky said.
Participating neighborhoods will take part in the planning process with the city to pinpoint community needs followed by two to three years of work. This includes improving pedestrian and bike infrastructure, art and beautification, food access initiatives, housing quality, youth programs, and public safety support.
"The community members, the individual residents involved, that's the core of this program and it's really their vision that we're coming in to support,” Scott said.
The application deadline is set for March 5th. Scott told Channel 6 both individual residents and a collective body can apply. All they need is one contact and a neighborhood sponsor—an organization, group, or entity that’s willing to support the neighborhood through the process. The city is hoping to begin the process with at least one neighborhood by March 31 and plans to help others in the near future. The city is hosting informational workshops in February for those who are interested in applying.
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