Located in the City if Rialto, CA, Renaissance Village is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors come together and apply the proper resources to the solution of community problems. Southern California Housing Development Corporation (SCHDC), a nonprofit organization, undertook a two-year, $7.5 million dollar rehabilitation project of Renaissance Village. The partnership between SCHDC and the residents of Renaissance Village utterly transformed what had been a dying neighborhood, crippled by drugs, crime and a drain on public resources and services, into an attractive crime-free haven for low-income families.
The Rialto Redevelopment Agency invited SCHDC to propose a solution that would not only rescue the neighborhood, but also result in the creation of needed affordable housing. Once SCHDC acquired 144 separately owned units, they confronted the actual task of renovating the properties, all of which were scarred by graffiti, broken windows, accumulated trash, debris and arson damage.
SCHDC's philosophy is not merely to create more affordable housing, but to improve the lives of the residents as well. To that end, SCHDC creates programs that will meet the needs of its residents. Just some of the services offered at Renaissance Village are the fine arts program, teen pregnancy/gang/drug prevention programs, Community Watch and a Free Lunch Program.
SCHDC is an AmeriCorps VISTA sponsor and VISTA members serve as on-site Social Program Coordinators. At Renaissance Village, the VISTA member was successful in bringing the residents together to address community challenges. Her volunteer corps, comprised of more than 30 residents, initiated and implemented a Community Watch program, a free lunch program that fed more than 100 children each day of the summer, taught Spanish to elementary school children and assisted in early literacy/childhood development programs.
VISTA corps continues to develop new programs that meet the needs of the community. Monthly Community Meetings are forums where the residents can discuss important issues and brainstorm solutions. In addition, the on-site management continues to screen all residents carefully and utilize criminal background checks to ensure that residents, both new and existing, are living in a safe environment.