Neighbors, agency fight back against Wellington Heights violence - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Neighbors, agency fight back against Wellington Heights violence


Jim Edward won't lose any sleep over watching the place next door to his home crumble to rubble.

"A lot of drug activity, fights. A lot of people just drinking," Edward said. 

Police have responded more to the 12 unit apartment complex next to Edward more than any other in the Wellington Heights neighborhood.  Edward was concerned for his young son's safety.

"Basically kept him in the house, and in the backyard," he said 

The problems, representative of an increasing violent trend to an already troubled Wellington Heights neighborhood.

Now significant efforts are in the works to make positive changes.

"It's an area that has certainly been distressed for a number of years and has deteriorated, and there was a real need to kind of rebuild it," said Jim Ernst, President and CEO of Four Oaks.

Four Oaks is launching its new Total Child Wellington Heights initiative.  Through Affordable Housing, 24 problem properties are being acquired and then either refurbished, or demolished and rebuilt, with the 12 plex next to Edward's house being one of them.

The program is designed to address all obstacles that hinder children and their families from succeeding.

"Total child sticks with kids until their 18, and what you also have to do is look at all phases of their lives," Ernst said.

The properties are set up as rent to own, but the low income tenants moving in must pass credit and criminal background checks first-standards lacking from some landlords in the past.

"The result of that has been a lot of in and out movement of tenants, which also needs to be stable," Ernst said.

Four Oaks isn't the only agency fed up with the violence.

A community-based group within the neighborhood calling itself Mad Dash is looking to attack the problem at its source.

"Part of the problem with a lot of guys in the community is that they don't' have no outlet. We're trying to make sure that the young men have somebody they can talk with or communicate with at all times," said Isaiah Jones, a member of the group.

The organization is holding a walk through Wellington Heights neighborhood Saturday at 3.  Other activities will go on all day at Green Square Park.

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