What Does Community Development Look Like to You?

Many people have an immediate negative feeling when they read or hear the word “development”. So it is a risk for any candidate to take up the word and attempt to use it in a positive way. But let’s break it down into real concepts and concrete ideas…

Community development activities build stronger and more resilient communities through an ongoing process of identifying and addressing needs, assets, and priority investments. Community development activities may support infrastructure, economic development projects, installation of public facilities, community centers, housing rehabilitation, public services, clearance/acquisition, microenterprise assistance, code enforcement, homeowner assistance and many other identified needs. -HUD

Several community needs have been well identified, but not well acted on. When it comes time every spring to work on the city budget, small items eat away at limited resources while large meaningful projects get delayed to future years. It is time to bring the future closer to today.

Our city owned Green Ridge House provides affordable housing, via the HUD Section 8 program, to elderly and disabled people. This is a wonderful facility that provides valuable services but it is at capacity.

With just 101 apartment units and more than half occupied by those with disabilities, it is simply not large enough to serve our city of 24,000 with a growing population over the age of 62. The current wait list is 3 years long and closed to new applicants.

We need to prioritize the development of a second facility, and for expanding housing and services to include those who suffer from addiction, from mental illness, or who are simply homeless due to other circumstances. Prince George’s County has very few residential programs forcing many to leave the safety net of their family, friends, and neighbors to programs in other parts of the state. We can do better.

Another need is how to create better transportation connections. Our community is divided by major highways built for commuters, not for residents. We need transportation designed for local access to shopping, recreation, festivals, and services. We should prioritize a plan to operate a circulator bus and we need a long-term project to rebuild Greenbelt Road into a community main street.

There are many more examples, large and small, of projects we can take on to improve the quality of life in our community. I ask for your support so that I may join the city council to work on these issues.