Resilience of the Residents

“I’m talking about people in my neighborhood who have been in their homes for forty years—they believe in the city and believe that it can work.

Transcript for Resilience of the Residents

Well, you know, I used to always think and say that even in the neighborhood where I live—because Tolleston is really older than Gary, you know—you had a lot of older homes that people had lived all the living out of, ok? You had some people who passed away. Kids did not really want the house. Did not want to fix it up, did not want to do anything, so they just kind of let it go. In some instances, they rented it to people who had no, you know, they had no skin in the game. They didn’t care if it fell apart or not. I mean, you know, “I don’t want to cut the grass. I’m not going to paint. I’m not going to do anything to it.” But if you—I don’t know if you know anything about the Tolleston area, but if you drive through there, you’ll see some areas where the houses—where it’s really, really nice. Houses are well-kept, the lawns are well-kept, and the people are still in them—retired seniors who were professionals; we’ve got a lot of teachers and doctors; we have some attorneys—but as I said, in some instances, you’ve had people who passed away and their kids didn’t want the responsibility or whatever of maintaining the homes, and so they just kind of let them go. I don’t think it had—and, in fact, I know it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that, as black folks, we don’t care anything about, you know, our property or how our neighborhoods look. It’s just, in many instances, they just didn’t want the responsibility.

We need economic development. We need some economic growth in that neighborhood. We have some pockets in the neighborhood where it is not as prosperous (if that’s a good word, I don’t know) as it was when I first moved there. We’ve had some people who’ve moved in who are not—and I don’t want to say they’re not professionals, but—who just, who are just—they’re just tenants. But we still have a lot of homeownership in Tolleston. A lot of it.

Well, there’s absolutely resilience of the residents. Just look around at people, as I said, in my community. Retired doctors, retired teachers, retired professionals who have stayed. They’ve stayed and continued to pay in—pay their taxes and pay into the city because they still believe that we can—the city can, you know, we can come back. I’m not saying that we can come back to what we used to be, but that there are some positive things that can happen in Gary. And I think that all you have to do is look at certain neighborhoods. Now you’ve got some neighborhoods that are—maybe one or two that are kind of prosperous, but some of those people are new. They came in from Chicago, you know, and they’re new, but I’m talking about people in my neighborhood who have been in those—their homes for forty years and who have retired from their particular profession, and it is not that they can’t leave. I think that they just believe that—they believe in the city and believe that it can work.

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