As neighborhoods go, Cascade Village in Akron is nothing like the public housing development it replaced. Elizabeth Park, the rundown “projects,” is gone — along with an outdated housing policy that isolated the very poor in massive complexes plagued by poverty and crime that few were proud to call home. In its place, a mixed-income neighborhood is taking root.
The new development on the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority site near downtown Akron models the idea that when residents of different income levels live side by side, it promotes a stable and vibrant neighborhood where residents feel personally vested and want to do all they can to sustain the quality of life, not just for themselves but for the neighborhood as a unit.
That sense of belonging and cohesion takes nurturing and investments beyond the new buildings and pleasant surroundings. As Beacon Journal staff writer Jim Carney reported on Tuesday, Cascade Village is an experiment that has every chance to thrive. With a $1.7 million four-year grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2011, Cascade is putting the pieces together for a support structure that promises to promote cohesion and stability for the long term, among other things tackling the “poverty mindset,” by investing not only in financial and computer coaches but also in a community liasion to enhance positive relationships among neighbors.