There are eight easy things that all homeowners and renters can do if they want to protect and improve their community. Protecting the community increases values and keeps the community safer. As a parent of a Black child, you owe it to your child to keep your community as safe and thriving as possible. Most of these fixes require little or no money so there is nothing holding you back except sweat equity.
Buy in the Community
When applicable buy in the community. Renting is a great option for parents that are too in debt to buy while they are paying off debt. Renting also works for people who move frequently move and are not sure where they would like to settle down. Being a home owner gives parents a sense of pride that renters usually do not achieve. Home owners feel more connected to their neighborhood because unlike owners they cannot up and leave. Homeowners are usually in the community to stay at least five years, most of the time more. The typical homeowner stays in a single family home for 13 years. 13 years is a long time. It is time to see a community slide into the pits and be labeled as downtrodden or it is time for the community to be uplifted and shed the terrible labels that it once held.
Speak to Your Neighbors
It may seem odd but talking to your neighbors improves your community. We all complain about the nosy neighbor but honestly nosy neighbors help keep communities safe. They are the ones who are watching who is moving in or noticing if small crimes are arising in neighborhoods. Small crimes like going into cars that are unlocked or poking holes in tires can lead to more violent crimes if left unchecked.
Speaking to your neighbors also increases chances of others looking out for each other. When neighbors converse with each other they are more likely to let another neighbor borrow a lawnmower or a wrench. If you are having trouble meeting neighbors then exercise in your neighborhood. Exercise obliviously has its many benefits. One of them is being able to be about and about meeting your neighbors. Exercising is also another way to keep an eye out for suspicious activity during the day as well.
Mow your lawn. I cannot count home many times I have seen great neighborhoods turn bad because neighbors refuse to mow their lawn. Maybe you do not have a green thumb but you need to at least keep your lawn cut. If you are feeling more daring then plant some trees, shrubs and whack your weeds. A little lawn care can go a long way. If you hate cutting your lawn and your child is not old enough to mow it then pay someone else to do it. The investment is well worth it.
Once you have bonded with your neighbors you might want to try to tackle big projects with your neighbors at the same time. When it is time to thatch our lawns, many of their neighbors in our community rent a machine and share it. We share the costs as well so the benefits go to our lawn and our pockets.
Plant Bushes with Thorns
Plants with thorns have been used for centuries to ward off bad doers in the neighborhood. Many of these bushes look beautiful. They will add to the beautification of your block and they will keep people from being able to scale your home or break into your windows. Are they foolproof, no. But they are cheap and do not need any type of expensive upkeep.
Pick Up Trash
Picking up trash will help keep housing prices high. A clean community will attract more affluent buyers. Buyers who respect for themselves and other community members will not be looking to purchase a home in a community that is dirty. Homeowners are not looking to live in places that have streets filled with broken bottles and fast food bags.
You may even go out on a limb and organize a clean up day in your community or neighborhood. It is just another chance for neighbors to be out meeting each other. At the same time this allows the neighborhood to get a cheap face lift. This will also allow community members to point out problem neighbors who are not willing to clean up. Some of those problem neighbors will also see the clean up and become influenced to clean up their own yard.
Keep Porch Lights on at Night
Keeping the lights on outside of your house when it is dark will deter criminals. Most criminals are looking for an easy way to get valuables. Putting on the lights will cause most criminals to skip that house. Crime and home values directly correlate. Keeping the lights on also lets other neighbors quickly see if a thief is lurking on anyone’s property.
Another option is to install motion sensors. These will alert you as a homeowner and other neighbors when someone triggers the sensor. Most of the time it is harmless. When I run at night I trigger a lot of sensors in my development. But there are times when these sensors may be worth their weight in gold. They may shine light on burglars and thieves looking to rip off people in the community.
Limiting Loud Music
Loud music is another thing that parents of Black children must curb. We all love turning the volume up on our favorite tunes. But we have to set time limits. Of course there are exceptions. BBQs and block parties are times we have to deal with. But if you have a neighbor who just enjoys playing the Best of Snoop Dogg from 11 PM to 3 AM on level 10 then that has be dealt with. A simple knock on the door may all you need. Many times people are so embarrassed from someone peacefully confronting them that it may be all they need.
If a simple knock on the door does not solve the problem then send the person a note. Let them know that you are just trying to get some sleep and you mean no harm is your request. The last resort should be calling police. Police can solve the problem but calling the police on your neighbor is sure to create a long feud between two families.
The days of expensive cameras are long over. Most parents can remember when having a camera was a big deal. Many of us can even remember cameras that spit out a picture right after you took it and you wait for it develop in your hands. We shook them thinking it sped up the process, it did not, but it still was fun. Currently cameras are at an all time low. They are everywhere. My daughter was four years old when she received a watch with a camera in it from my friend. It blew me away.
There are cameras in computers, laptops, phones, doors, cars and many other places that they can be fit. They are smaller than ever as well. One place to install cameras are around your house. These deter crime and capture any crime that may have happened. Make sure that yours are actually working and not just for show.