Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Initiative (2012 – 2016)
Since 2013, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC (MVM) has actively partnered with the Philadelphia Police Department’s 16th District, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, other city agencies, non-profit organizations, and community members to address resident public safety priorities in the West Philadelphia community of Mantua. Our comprehensive efforts, supported by the Department of Justice’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) grant, have reduced the number of crime hotspots (from 8 to 2), lowered crime rates (21% reduction in Part 1 offenses from 2011 to 2016), fostered community engagement and collective efficacy, and provided opportunities for positive police and resident interactions.
Under Mt. Vernon Manor CDC’s lead, partners have collaborated to identify and carry out evidence-based strategies to address crime. Our initiatives have included:
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
To target a crime hotspot at 34th and Haverford Avenue, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC engaged businesses, neighbors, community youth, and volunteer artists to beautify the corner and make it safer. As a result of the CPTED project, 911 calls in the area dropped by 65% and arrests went down to 0.
Police and Community Trust-Building
In partnership with the National Coalition-Building Institute and the Philadelphia Police Department’s 16th Police District, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC hosted a series of Police and Community Workshops to build trust and relationships in an effort to increase safety and accountability. At the end of 2016, nineteen Mantua residents and police officers also participated in an intensive 3-day “Train the Trainer Program” to gain the skills for leading future trainings in the community.
During the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC’s Block-by-Block Coordinators Lorraine Gomez and Jenny Chen engaged existing and new block leaders, building their leadership capacity to better address concerns and connect neighbors to resources. In Mantua, a network of over 90 block leaders has collectively shared valuable information with neighbors, organized anti-violence rallies, participated in community trainings, cleaned up blocks, initiated beautification projects, and connected with home repair resources.
Mt. Vernon Manor’s work under the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation award led to the White House’s recognition of Mantua as a HUD Promise Zone in 2014 — one of only five communities in the country designated in the launch of the 10-year federal program.