By Tiffany Taulton, Hazelwood Initiative Director of Outreach and Sustainability
This year brought both heartache and hope to Greater Hazelwood. Even as inflation, layoffs and the losses of loved ones affected so many neighbors, this community stayed strong by banding together and helping each other.
Hazelwood Initiative was honored to stand with residents throughout the year's trials, and we are incredibly grateful for the support you gave us as well.
Thank you all for making your voices heard at community meetings, for calling neighbors to spread the word about events and resources, for sharing your thoughtful advice, for visiting us and giving both kind words and donations. Thank you also for planting and adopting trees, and for joining us in celebrating what makes this community special all year, from Earth Day and National Night Out to Safe Halloween and Light Up Night.
This year, Hazelwood Initiative staff worked tirelessly to show up for you, our community.
From January to June, we helped Greater Hazelwood residents obtain nearly $1 million in rent and utility assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. In August, through our Neighborhood Investment Fund COVID19 grant, we distributed $50,000 to help residents pay their rent, mortgage, utilities, and property taxes. From April to November, with partner organizations and community members, we planted 226 trees in the greenway and the neighborhood. These trees reduce air pollution that can cause asthma attacks and they protect us from heat-related sickness. They also protect residents’ homes from floods and landslides. And they help lower energy bills by keeping the neighborhood shaded in the summer and blocking cold gusts of winter wind.
This year we also advanced several long-standing goals towards the goal of development without displacement.
In March, we bought 63 homes throughout the neighborhood to preserve them as affordable rental units and keep investors from turning them into luxury apartments. In July, we closed on the financing for the renovation of Gladstone School after five years of legal battles and pandemic labor and supply chain shortages. In November, we celebrated the groundbreaking on Gladstone Residences. This mixed-income development will bring 51 new housing units to the neighborhood, including 43 priced for low- and moderate-income households. Finally, we raised funds for seven free solar arrays for community members who otherwise would not have been able to afford them. These installations will lower their utility bills, making their homes more affordable.
As 2022 ends, we look forward to continuing to serve this community. It is a very special place where people band together to help each other through the good times and bad. It is a privilege to be part of building a better future together in 2023 and beyond.
We hope to see you at Light-Up Night on Monday, December 5, and the December community meeting on Tuesday, December 13, from 6-8 p.m.