Citizens with Challenges

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City of Detroit Council District #6. 48217 has been referred to as “Boynton” to the south of I-75 and ‘Oakwood Heights” to the northwest. Currently, the neighborhood as a whole is referred to by the residents as: “48217” – its zip code number. Is positioned at the southwestern-most tip of Detroit.
North: Dearborn and Melvindale city limit
South: River Rouge and Ecorse city limits
East: Rouge River
West: Lincoln Park city limits

How is your organization making a difference in Detroit today?
The mission of Citizens with Challenges (CwC) is to improve the quality of life through community revitalization activities, physical enhancement green projects and social equity initiatives fro resident in the Southwest Detroit Area. It has and is making a difference in Detroit by within an industrial area by celebrating environmental solutions and implementing regional and neighborhood tactics for development, The areas that we are involved Environmental, Fiscal Sustainability, Community Values and Neighborhood Design. We kept in mind the social equity goal in making sure that every one in the community have a voice and meeting with others not at the table informing and reminding them of our goal to give opportunity to the residents, which will build leadership in our community. We developed a Fort Street Greenway Master Plan in “Southwest Detroit, 48217” , with support agencies such as Kemeny Recreation Center Adviser Board, Original Citizens of Southwest Detroit and business such as Marathon Petroleum, Co., Detroit Salt Mine and People Bakery. CwC has also collaborated with other non-profit, businesses and citizens of Detroit and metropolitan area. CwC is in collaboration with the Rouge River Gateway and developed a master plan.

What are some of your organization’s proudest accomplishments?
Our proudest accomplishment is creating our emergency food and shelter program with some funding over the years from Unitedway of South eastern Michigan, Fort Street Greenway construction drawings as CwC is ready to work on installing the greenway. Working on developing after school programs in the area for 5th -12th graders. Mapping the housing stock in 48217 with other non-profits in the community that the mapping need to be updated. Provided Emergency Food and Shelter funding for low-income people and the working poor, Green spaces with donation funding and physical help, received financial support from United Way Worldwide National Board/Food and Shelter program along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that provides food for and a month of pass due rent/mortgage funding.

What have been your top lessons learned through your work in your community?
The top lesson is that low-income communities primarily of color seem to not have the true benefit of the funding that comes in to improve the quality of their lives, it is either a hand out or an outsider getting paid to come into the community to save the residents. As the community ages you lose those who are more available to volunteer, because the older generation who were part of building the community are retired. Based on the community changing and getting younger there is a need for more resources to allow the younger to have jobs in the community and jobs that work for the community.

What words of wisdom or encouragement would you pass on to others doing work similar to your organization?
I have one thought – How do you get people to come back to a community that they were raised in their first eighteen years of life, that built the base for their successes, to come back and give at lease an hour of time or pay from their check at least once per month.

cwc5How can others get involved/support your work?
Bring your skills to the table – something you may have done or are doing in your work life, that is not hard to do and others from the community will see you involved and they will follow your foot steps. Make financial donation to help hire young people to do work in their community and as a safety reason get to know their neighbors, which will reduce crime.

CwC worked on a model called the “Healthy Block”, using the Liddesdale St. block from Schafer Hwy., to Downing St. and got several people that live on that section of Liddesdale to clean up and united to have a commercial building on the Conner of Schafer Hwy. demolished. Leading into their block, this has made an improved cleaner look and there is more interaction with neighbors. The trips to Greenfield Village a program we have called “get to know my neighbor” was a great help. This summer you had kids on Liddesdale St. selling lemonade in front of their houses. Last year in 2015, CwC started another “Healthy Block”, on Corbin St., between Fort St. and Fisher Fwy. and you can now see the changes of a cleaner and healthier block. Corbin St. needs for the neighbors to interact more, something we are working as of now, and hope by the end of the Fall 2016 there will better interaction with the neighbors.

Learn More.
CwC is a small consistent community organization and has done more work to improve the quality of life then have videos or articles featuring our organization.


Otis Mathis, Executive Director

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (313) 732-3953

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