Local News

Chapel Hill Group Changes a House to Change a Neighborhood

Posted November 22, 2000

— A grassroots group is changing the face of crime in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Empowerment, Inc. believes a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch, so they are going to the core of the problem and fixing it.

As an electrician works to renovate a duplex on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro line, he may be changing the neighborhood for the better.

The house at 219 North Roberson St. was once a haven for illegal drugs.

"If they're not selling drugs, they're half drunk, all the time cussing and hollering, making all kinds of noise and I don't need that," neighbor Joe Brown said.

Brown, who lives right next door, could not be happier that the house is one of several being refurbished by Empowerment, Inc.

The non-profit group buys problem homes in low income neighborhoods, fixes them up and sells or rents them at affordable prices.

The theory is that changing the face of a few houses can change the complexion of an entire neighborhood.

"Just taking care of a few houses, getting them straightened out really makes a big, big difference," says Mark Chilton, of Empowerment.

Six duplexes in the Lloyd Street neighborhood have been renovated, and Carrboro police say drug activity already has gone down.

Residents of North Roberson Street are hoping the same will happen for them.

Empowerment, Inc. receives federal, local and community funding.

It currently has about a dozen projects in the works.


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