Special Photo Neglected and abandoned properties and other remnants of the foreclosure crisis create an impression of a community in decline. A new program by Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful aims to correct this problem.
Program aims to clean up abandoned, neglected properties
The first impression of a community is formed within 30 seconds.
How a community appears to our citizens, students, employees and visitors is key to its continued success. Once a negative impression is created, it is very difficult to reverse.
People's impression of Gwinnett is currently being formed by the increasing number of foreclosed properties. People are seeing more of these properties in their neighborhoods and as they travel to work, play, worship or learn in Gwinnett. These foreclosures are creating more abandoned and vacant properties and are beginning to send an impression of a community in decline.
In January 2012, one out of every 328 homes in Gwinnett County received a foreclosure notice compared to one in 624 in the U.S.
Chronically vacant and abandoned properties represent community decline and neglect. They contribute to neighborhood instability, diminished public safety, devaluation of property values and declining quality of life.
Abandoned and neglected properties are one of the most visible signs of neighborhood distress. They send the message that no one cares.
For more than 30 years, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful has worked with community partners to keep our community clean and beautiful.
To address the issue of vacant properties, GCB will pilot a new initiative -- Operation Good Neighbor. Operation Good Neighbor will engage volunteers, residents and property owners in transforming these trashed and neglected properties (homes and lots) into clean and green spaces. The initiative is part of GCB's annual Great American Cleanup, which began March 1 and runs through May 31.
The Great American Cleanup helps create places where people no longer feel threatened by their surroundings and are actively engaged in sustaining clean and green communities.
Along with the many other community projects that are part of The Great American Cleanup, GCB and its volunteers will identify vacant and abandoned properties, clean and green these properties, evaluate the pilot program's impacts and promote community investment to create a productive use of these properties in Gwinnett County.
Cleaning and greening of chronically vacant and abandoned properties cannot alone stem the tide of neighborhood decline. However, they do represent an important first step in aiding distressed neighborhoods. They physically enhance the neighborhood appearance, signaling that the residents proactively care about improving their quality of life.
GCB is still developing this program and is looking for community feedback and volunteers willing to take on the task of making Gwinnett greener, cleaner and more beautiful one home, one lot, one neighborhood at a time.
To volunteer or get more information on the Great American Cleanup Gwinnett Challenge, go to www.gwinnettcb.org.
Connie Wiggins is the executive director of Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful.