Even before Detroit's bankruptcy, there was an "Us vs. Them" attitude between the city and its suburbs.
Checking in on community service in Homedale
Dumping and debris are an ongoing issue in the southwest Phoenix neighborhood of Homedale. (Photo by Paul Atkinson - KJZZ)
Hundreds of volunteers will help clean up and beautify the Cash neighborhood Saturday in southwest Phoenix. It’s part of Barrios Bellos a program run by Chicanos Por La Causa and local Toyota dealers. These kinds of large volunteer projects are nothing new. But what happens once the volunteers are gone? KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson visited a neighborhood cleaned up last year to find out.
PAUL ATKINSON: Couch cushions, a headboard, and other debris litter an alley in the Homedale neighborhood near Buckeye Road and 40th Avenue in southwest Phoenix.
TERRI PEREZ: One of the major problems that we have is people dumping trash.
ATKINSON: Terri Perez lives around the corner.
PEREZ: They think it’s a dump. And so that’s the hard part -- trying to keep our neighborhood clean.
ATKINSON: 500 volunteers helped Perez and other neighbors pick up debris, paint over graffiti and plant flowers last year. Olga Soto grew up in Homedale. She’s a neighborhood specialist with the City of Phoenix who helped coordinate the clean-up.
OLGA SOTO: So I think the momentum is being built. And it’s going to continue. We’re going to come back and continue this work here.
ATKINSON: Soto says it takes more than annual clean-ups to remove blight. She points to residents like Martin Gonzales, whose well-kept home strands out.
MARTIN GONZALES: Bought the house when I was 18 and I’m 35 now. So, this is where I wanted to live. I love this community and I love where I live at. It’s where I grew up. You know, I have a lot of pride here. I want to see things change. You can see I started with my house and I just plan on working my way up from here.
ATKINSON: Gonzales will soon get graffiti removal equipment thanks to a neighborhood grant. He and Terri Perez hope to convince more neighbors to do their part.
EDITOR'S NOTE (3/26/2012): A previous version of this story misidentified the cross streets of the Homedale neighborhood in southwest Phoenix. The streets are 40th Avenue and Buckeye Road.