Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Plagued by crime, drugs and vacant buildings, one East Baltimore community is taking steps to make their streets safer.
Gigi Barnett explains it’s a plan on the fast track.
Homeowners in the city’s Darley Park neighborhood in East Baltimore say traffic is too fast, trash is too much, and vacant homes linger too long.
It wasn’t always this like this.
“We came out and swept, picked up the trash,” said Darley Park homeowner John Ward Sr. “‘Don’t you dare put trash down there! What’s the matter with you?’ It was like that.”
But this is the sound of change: construction on the block.
After five years of planning to bring the old neighborhood back, homeowners stepped up their efforts this year after the shooting death of 12-year-old Sean Johnson. He and three other friends were gunned down on a porch back in May after watching a basketball game on TV.
So, Darley Park homeowners have teamed up with private investors who rehab the houses and hire some neighbors to help.
“Kenny lives here. Kenny helps them out. I help them out. Frankie sometimes help them out. This is part of the neighborhood. We are helping,” Ward said.
Anthony Onwuanibe has bought more than 25 homes on the block. He says the partnership means everyone has a stake in the neighborhood.
“They are looking out for the properties that we have over there,” Onwuanibe said. “If anyone goes into any of those properties, they quickly call the police. I do need the community’s help, and I’m happy that we’re getting it.”
Currently Onwuanibe and the rehabbers are renovating two houses in the neighborhood. He says there is a strict background check for anyone who wants to move into the property.
Meanwhile, police are still searching for the suspect who shot and killed 12-year-old Sean Johnson.