The City of Hamilton is one of ten cities participating in the Cities of Service Love Your Block program. As a program through AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), Cities of Service awards $25,000 to each of ten participating cities nationwide. This money is used for mini-grants and resources to support the efforts of citizen groups and local nonprofits to fight property blight through home repairs, lot transformations, and community cleanups. In addition, two AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in city hall to build capacity in our neighborhoods and raise awareness for the program.
In the first year of the program, which began in August of 2018, AmeriCorps VISTA members Brooke Wells and Tyler Cook collaborated with community members and partners to identify homes that needed small-scale repairs, and helped owners make these improvements. In May and June of 2019, nearly one hundred volunteers worked on a dozen homes in the East End and Armondale neighborhoods. Residents painted houses and made minor exterior repairs, removed more than 10,000 pounds of garbage and brush, and assisted owners with yard work and landscaping around the homes.
And it’s just the first year of the two-year Love Your Block program. Brooke, a native of Hamilton, will be hired on to continue working on Love Your Block as part of the new Department of Neighborhoods. The department was created to house our placemaking initiatives and improve communication from the city. Now that the first year of Love Your Block has come to a close, two new AmeriCorps VISTA members joined the new department to continue the work into its second year.
In its second year, the program will improve on the first year successes, and focus on expanding efforts to include the Jefferson and North End neighborhoods. As the Love Your Block starts planning for the upcoming months, the VISTAs and City staff are excited to see what new opportunities the program holds.