Establishing a More Livable Community Through Community Collaboration

State: AL Type: Model Practice Year: 2011

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The target population is the citizens in the Robinwood Community. The number of citizens in Robinwood is 3, 518 residents. The public health issue that this practice addressed was that the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) sought to establish a more livable community in Robinwood by addressing conditions constituting public health nuisances in January 2009. The Robinwood neighborhood was chosen for a community revitalization project due to insanitary conditions of residents having rubbish, mosquitoes, rodents and illegal burning of garbage and other materials on their property.

JCDH Community Environmental Protection Division in collaboration with the Jefferson County Office of Land, Planning and Development Services, and community organizations formed a partnership to address environmental health issues observed throughout the community. The goal was to improve safety and environmental quality throughout the Robinwood neighborhood as a result of community collaboration. After choosing Robinwood, the Community Environmental Health Division developed three objectives to help accomplish the overall goal of improved safety and environmental quality in Robinwood.

The objective was to conduct an environmental health assessment by the JCDH Policy Grants and Assessment Division to assess the extent of the community’s concern with environmental health and safety issues. The second objective was to form partnerships, including a neighborhood association and ministerial alliance, to reduce/eliminate environmental hazards and food desserts affecting the community. The third objective was to provide residents with resources to establish a crime prevention program. The practice was implemented in January 2009.

The outcomes and objectives were met for the project. Collaboration from residents and agencies allowed the implementation of a neighborhood clean-up. It also was instrumental in forming neighborhood association and ministerial alliance to conduct ongoing education to residents on environmental health hazards that are contributors to insanitary condition. In order to meet the needs of families that are not able to address nuisance conditions, such as garbage, rubbish and safety from excessive clutter surrounding the outside of their homes, residents in many instances called upon officers of the neighborhood and ministerial alliance for assistance for remediation. Residents who requested assistance were residents of the community for years and were elderly or have a physical disability that prevents them from addressing the environmental hazards themselves.

Since the establishment of the neighborhood association and ministerial alliance, these organizations have solicited partnerships from local businesses, food establishments surrounding the community, and municipalities to support neighborhood association meeting outreach endeavors. One outreach endeavor involves Robinwood churches rendering services for residents to purchase Angel Food Boxes in large quantities at low cost. Each month the menu items vary having both fresh and frozen food items. A unit box food items can generally feed a family of four for a week and a single senior citizen for almost a month. Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit organization that provides food relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. Currently, safety measures have been provided by the police department to increase police patrol in Robinwood. Police officials have set up road blocks and have ongoing patrol in hot spots for suspected criminal and illegal garbage dumping activity report by residents of the community. Crime Stoppers outreach materials have been distributed, detailing how to report information anonymously that may lead to an arrest and in some cases monetary rewards.

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Jefferson County Department of Health/Alabama Public Health Area 4
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Establishing a More Livable Community Through Community Collaboration
The target population is the citizens in the Robinwood Community. The number of citizens in Robinwood is 3, 518 residents. The public health issue that this practice addressed was that the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) sought to establish a more livable community in Robinwood by addressing conditions constituting public health nuisances in January 2009. The Robinwood neighborhood was chosen for a community revitalization project due to insanitary conditions of residents having rubbish, mosquitoes, rodents and illegal burning of garbage and other materials on their property. JCDH Community Environmental Protection Division in collaboration with the Jefferson County Office of Land, Planning and Development Services, and community organizations formed a partnership to address environmental health issues observed throughout the community. The goal was to improve safety and environmental quality throughout the Robinwood neighborhood as a result of community collaboration. After choosing Robinwood, the Community Environmental Health Division developed three objectives to help accomplish the overall goal of improved safety and environmental quality in Robinwood. The objective was to conduct an environmental health assessment by the JCDH Policy Grants and Assessment Division to assess the extent of the community’s concern with environmental health and safety issues. The second objective was to form partnerships, including a neighborhood association and ministerial alliance, to reduce/eliminate environmental hazards and food desserts affecting the community. The third objective was to provide residents with resources to establish a crime prevention program. The practice was implemented in January 2009. The outcomes and objectives were met for the project. Collaboration from residents and agencies allowed the implementation of a neighborhood clean-up. It also was instrumental in forming neighborhood association and ministerial alliance to conduct ongoing education to residents on environmental health hazards that are contributors to insanitary condition. In order to meet the needs of families that are not able to address nuisance conditions, such as garbage, rubbish and safety from excessive clutter surrounding the outside of their homes, residents in many instances called upon officers of the neighborhood and ministerial alliance for assistance for remediation. Residents who requested assistance were residents of the community for years and were elderly or have a physical disability that prevents them from addressing the environmental hazards themselves. Since the establishment of the neighborhood association and ministerial alliance, these organizations have solicited partnerships from local businesses, food establishments surrounding the community, and municipalities to support neighborhood association meeting outreach endeavors. One outreach endeavor involves Robinwood churches rendering services for residents to purchase Angel Food Boxes in large quantities at low cost. Each month the menu items vary having both fresh and frozen food items. A unit box food items can generally feed a family of four for a week and a single senior citizen for almost a month. Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit organization that provides food relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. Currently, safety measures have been provided by the police department to increase police patrol in Robinwood. Police officials have set up road blocks and have ongoing patrol in hot spots for suspected criminal and illegal garbage dumping activity report by residents of the community. Crime Stoppers outreach materials have been distributed, detailing how to report information anonymously that may lead to an arrest and in some cases monetary rewards.
The public health nuisances in the Robinwood Community were insanitary conditions resulting from residents harboring garbage on their property triggering rodent infestations, roaming dogs without leashes and feral cats. In some cases, garbage would be disposed of by open burning. The Robinwood Community was selected to have a neighborhood clean-up by the Jefferson County Land, Planning and Development Services due to the community being one of the oldest communities built in Jefferson County, Alabama. The Jefferson County Department of Health partnered with the Jefferson County Land, Planning and Development Services to assist in educating residents about a neighborhood clean-up and provide physical assistance to residents that could not bring their garbage to the front of their property. According to the 2000 census report, 13.9% of homes were built in the Robinwood community in 1939 or earlier. The Jefferson County Land, Planning, and Development Services initiated community clean-ups in areas of non-incorporated Jefferson County, Alabama. Community resources are being split in Robinwood between incorporated and unincorporated areas. A portion of the Robinwood Community is annexed into the City of Tarrant. Currently, residents of the City of Tarrant have a trash pick-up services included in their property tax fees. Another portion of the Robinwood Community is in unincorporated Jefferson County and does not have automatic trash pick-up services. The economic status in the Robinwood community is low to moderate income. The medium household income in Robinwood is $25,545, according to the 2000 United States Census report. The U.S. Census report also indicated that 14.1% of families in Robinwood are below the poverty level. Families with children under 18 years of age are 21.2% below the poverty level. Families with children under 5 years of age are 26.5% below the poverty level. These statistics are most likely major contributing factors that assist to why community residents do not participate in paying for trash pick-up services and why this area has a high rate of illegal dumping.
Agency Community RolesThe Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) Community Environmental Protection Division is responsible for investigating environmental complaints such as garbage, sewage; along with environmental hazards that may pose as a threat to public health. The JCDH Air Radiation Protection Division is responsible for open burning complaints. In efforts to assess the extent of the community’s concern for environmental health and safety issues the JCDH Policy Grant and Assessment Division developed an Environmental Health Assessment survey. J CDH partnered with the Jefferson County Land, Planning and Development Services to assist in educating residents about the neighborhood clean-up and provide physical assistance to residents that could not remove their garbage to the front of their property. After the community clean-up residents contacted JCDH employees for assistance in establishing a neighborhood association meeting. JCDH contacted community organizations and provided residents with assistance to launch their neighborhood association meeting. This triggered several developments in Robinwood to aid residents with community resources.   ImplementationThe Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) Division of Policy Grant and Assessment Division developed an environmental health assessment survey to assess the extent of the community concern on environmental health and safety issues. The results from the survey indicated that residents of Robinwood prioritize neighborhood cleanliness and safety as a top concern. The Community Environmental Protection Division began to act on the residents’ concerns by partnering with Jefferson County Office of Land Development Services with Robinwood neighborhood clean-up. Robinwood residents separate items of disposal into three categories for trash pick-up: garbage, rubbish and household items. Prior to the neighborhood clean-up, several residents were disposing garbage items by open burning on their property. By making residents aware of the health hazard, the JCDH Community Environmental Protection Division and the Air and Radiation Protection Divisions distributed door-to-door flyers informing residents of open burning violations in Jefferson County. After the clean up, several residents contacted JCDH for assistance in educating new and existing residents about maintaining community cleanliness along with methods to increase safety in the community. JCDH contacted the Alpha Omega Group who partnered with the Robinwood community to establish a neighborhood association for residents to form a united front that addresses the needs of the community. JCDH and the Alpha Omega Group contacted the local churches in the community and formed a ministerial alliance. The ministerial alliance began a rotation system to host the neighborhood meeting. The Robinwood neighborhood association and ministerial alliance invited safety officers from the police, sheriff, and fire and rescue departments to inform residents how to initiate a neighborhood watch program. Public education continues monthly during Neighborhood Association Meetings allowing residents to be aware of criminal activity, fire safety, garbage, and rubbish disposal, along with no burning ordinances in Jefferson County, AL. As a follow-up to the environmental health assessment the JCDH Community Environmental Protection Division incorporated the YMCA Community Healthy Living Index (CHLI) assessment. The CHLI assessment allowed residents to evaluate the environmental condition in their neighborhood and the availability of nutritious foods in their community. This process was developed to improve the overall health of the community. Timeline: The first objective was achieved within six months, June 2009. Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) in collaboration with county agencies conducted a neighborhood clean-up day and distributed flyers door-to-door that provided information to increase awareness on of environmental health issues. As a method to sustain community awareness on environmental health issues, the residents in the community formed a neighborhood association for residents to unite and address the needs of the community. JCDH Community Environmental Protection was able to form partnerships, including a neighborhood association and ministerial alliance, to reduce/eliminate environmental hazards and food desserts affecting the community. The second objective was implemented in June 2009, within six months. Since the establishment of the neighborhood association and ministerial alliance, these organizations have solicited partnerships from food establishments and municipalities to support neighborhood association meeting outreach endeavors. One of the outreach projects includes the support of the local church rendering services for residents to purchase Angel Food Boxes in large quantities at low cost began in January 2010, within one year timeframe. The third objective was reached in September 2009, which provided residents with resources to establish a crime prevention program, within nine months. Since the community crime prevention block wat
One of the objectives was to conduct an environmental health assessment by the JCDH Policy Grants and Assessment Division to assess the extent of the community’s concern on environmental health and safety issues. Performance Measures: The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) Division of Policy Grant and Assessment Division developed an environmental health assessment survey to assess the extent of the community concern on environmental health and safety issues in June 2009. Twenty five percent of the population responded to the survey, but one hundred percent responded to the community clean-up. After the Robinwood community wide clean-up JCDH Community Environmental Health Protection (CEP) Division assisted the residents established various community program in Robinwood as a method to sustain the cleanliness and moral of residents removing debris from their property. JCDH CEP Division conducted a follow-up environment health assessment in October 2010, twenty five percent of the population responded to the survey. Data Collection: Data was collected by Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) employees through door to door surveys of Robinwood residents. Cleanliness and safety were two of the top priorities that residents wanted to address out of the eighteen environmental hazards categorized in the environmental health assessment. JCDH Community Environmental Protection (CEP) Division collaborated with the Jefferson County agencies listed above conducted a neighborhood clean-up day and distributed flyers door-to-door providing information proper method for handling garbage and regulations dealing with environmental health issues. As a result of the community partnerships initiated from the Robinwood community clean-up, there were 899 cubic yards of trash removed from the neighborhood. From August 2008-August 2009 there were nine complaints reported to Jefferson County Department of Health CEP Division and three complaints reported to the Air Radiation Protection Division by Robinwood residents. Since the Robinwood clean-up, a neighborhood association has been established in the community allowing an e-mail system to be launched where monthly e-mails are submitted to JCDH regarding neighborhood information, along with complaints taken during the meeting. Robinwood residents have increased the number of reported complaints to JCDH. From September 2009-September 2010 there have been ten complaints reported to the CEP Division and eight complaints reported to Air and Radiation Protection Division. After conducting the follow-up environmental health assessment in Robinwood, safety has decreased as a priority concern due to the reduction of crime. Crime related activity has decreased by thirty percent in the community. The general cleanliness of the neighborhood remains a top priority and the presence of abandoned houses has surfaced as a concern. Neighborhood Association Officers have contacted city and county officials to address the issue of abandoned houses in Robinwood. The Robinwood Community success relies on the establishment of partnerships and the community residents’ ongoing outreach endeavors in the neighborhood. These endeavors have gone a long way to improve the community quality of life. Evaluation Results: Responses from the surveys shows that the community was almost evenly split between homeowners and renters. Homeowners and members of the Ministerial Alliance monthly seek to bridge the gap between residents of the community and new renters in Robinwood by door-to-door outreach flyers and word of mouth to encourage new residents to attend the community meetings. Nuisance complaints have increased during the Robinwood Neighborhood Association Meetings. Prior to establishing the neighborhood association meeting residents were not vocal to government agencies regarding environmental health hazards such as garbage/rubbish, open burning and safety issues in the community. 
Community support has increased in Robinwood since the beginning stages of the clean-up. Community partners have allocated their time and resources to address the needs of the community. The Robinwood Neighborhood Association advocates for community residents to address their needs with community resources and field nuisance complaints to governing agencies. The Robinwood Ministerial Alliance provides meeting locations for neighborhood meetings and acts as a liaison for hosting the Angel Food Boxes for families to purchase monthly at low cost. Alpha Omega Group provides assistance with the organization of the neighborhood association and ministerial alliance. The Robinwood Neighborhood Association and Ministerial Alliance render their support by educating residents on community resources and having ongoing outreach activities at their churches. The Jefferson County Office of Land Development Services monitors overgrown lots and illegal waste disposal. City of Tarrant Mayors Office provides necessary community resource services; Police and Sheriff Departments coordinate the neighborhood crime watch program, increased safety patrols along with addressing complaints at community meetings. Community partners have committed to maintain an active role in communication and assisting residents with distributing educational materials during their neighborhood meetings. The Robinwood Community has reduced the amount of waste disposal in their community by triggering behavior changes for residents through education, promotion of sanitary practices to enhance growth within their neighborhood and removal of environmental hazards within the community. While the Robinwood community has been a learning experience, it has provided the Jefferson County Department of Health with a foundation to further assist Robinwood as well as other neighborhoods within the county. Jefferson County Department of Health purpose of maintaining sustainability with the Robinwood clean-up was to establish a neighborhood association among residents and form community partnerships to bridge the gap between residents and government agencies. Residents of Robinwood exceeded the Jefferson County Department of Health and partnering agencies expectations due to their interest in the clean-up and the behavior responses that followed. Respondents from the Environment Health Survey and Community Health Living Index indicate that the community was almost evenly split between those who own their homes and those who rent their homes. Homeowners and members of the Ministerial Alliance monthly seek to bridge the gap between residents of the community and new renters in Robinwood by door-to-door outreach flyers and word of mouth to reach new residents to attend the community meeting. An e-mail system has been established where the neighborhood president submits monthly e-mails to partnering agencies and JCDH regarding neighborhood information, along with complaints taken during the meeting. Nuisance complaints have increased during the Robinwood Neighborhood Association Meetings. Prior to establishing the neighborhood association meeting residents were not vocal to government agencies on the environmental health hazards complaints of garbage/rubbish, open burning and safety issues in the community. Currently, safety measures have been allocated by the police department by increasing police patrol in Robinwood. Police officials have set up road blocks and have ongoing patrol in hot spots for suspected criminal conduct or mischievous activity reported by residents of the community. They have dispersed crime stoppers outreach materials on how to report information anonymously that may lead to an arrest and in some cases monetary rewards. Together, local businesses, churches, along with community residents have provided incentives for residents to continue to receive educational information and allow residents to voice their concerns during the community meeting
 
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