Kevyn Bollinger never thought he’d wake up in a crack house.
The hallmarks of Manchester’s (New Hampshire) West Granite neighborhood included narcotics, vagrancy, and vandalism. These issues were exacerbated by the foreclosure crisis which hastened the cycle.
“I was discouraged about that neighborhood,” says West Granite Street landlord Lee LeBlanc. “It was hard to rent out my apartments because of the state of the other buildings.”
“When it looks like you live in the ghetto, you act like you live in the ghetto,” says Pastor Richard Clegg, who owns a home and operates a church nearby. “So improving the appearance of some of the properties would be a big benefit as well.”
NH Community Development Finance Authority (NH CDF) invested in NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire’s efforts to rebuild the West Granite neighborhood (the organization was known publicly then as NeighborWorks® Greater Manchester).
First, NH CDFA awarded $375,000 in state tax credits to in the West Granite Revitalization Initiative, an effort to redevelop troubled or neglected properties in the West Granite neighborhood and reduce density. NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire redeveloped properties and placed them on the market for sale to owner occupants. Then, NH CDFA granted a combined $3,240,000 to the revitalization through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program – a public/private initiative from HUD to upgrade distressed, foreclosed properties.
Crime is now noticeably down. “When it was bad, it was bad,” says LeBlanc, a former cop. “There is absolutely no question that revitalization worked.”
Now, West Granite is filled with residents committed to long-term occupancy and the well-being of the neighborhood.
Residents like Kevyn Bollinger, who purchased what had previously been a notorious crack house.
Note from Storm: In a personal communication, Robert Tourigny, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire explained the timeline of this project:
“The revitalization initiative began in 2009, out of the foreclosure crisis, to primarily help reduce density in the neighborhood and increase owner occupancy. For the past six years, we have been buying foreclosed properties, all concentrated within a few blocks of each other on the west side of Manchester, New Hampshire. We then renovate and sell them. During this time, we acquired 11 multi-family properties containing 32 units. Most were vacant and abandoned, others just were blighted. We demolished two properties, merged some lots, created off-street parking, and boosted open space. The effort ended in 2015, when we sold the last of nine renovated properties. They comprised a total of 21 residential units; eight of them owner-occupied, and thirteen of them rentals.”