What people in Southeast Raleigh want to see

In opening the Southeast Raleigh Community Engagement session on Saturday morning, Carmen Wimberley Cauthen told the group of approximately 70 people at the Tarboro Road Community Center that it was an effort to have the people of Southeast Raleigh decide what they want to see, rather than someone deciding for them.

Carmen organized the event with Aaliyah Blaylock, both longtime Raleigh residents, and it’s just the beginning of the conversation that continues with future community engagement events.

Community redevelopment resources exist, but you have to know how to use them

The session started with an educational presentation about how community development can be financed, by Jeanne Milliken Bonds of the Community Development branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. 

The overview presentation introduced and educated residents and business owners on capital and tools such as CRAs and Opportunity Funds. 

The presentation (available here) is a starting point for the next, day and a half event. Jeanne said most of the tools outlined are full-day presentations.

Educating people on these tools for community development is how the conversation started for the Southeast Raleigh Community Engagement session, Carmen said. Inequities built into laws, like redlining, sharecropping and other injustices prevented people of color from building wealth.

And although programs exist to help communities, such as CRAs (which was developed to address redlining), Opportunity Funds and Opportunity Zones, many people don’t know what they are or how to use them, Carmen said.

Jeanne was asked to address questions including: access to capital; tools such as tax credits, investments and credit; financial literacy; quarterbacks and anchor institutions; land trusts; inclusionary housing; city housing funds; density and zoning; entrepreneurship.

WHAT SOUTHEAST RALEIGH LOVES, WANTS TO SEE IMPROVE

After the presentation and a short Q&A session, participants worked at tables to answer questions: What do you like about Southeast Raleigh? What can be improved or would you like to see change?

What residents like and want to preserve: The neighborhood and community feel, the rich culture, history and architecture, access to main thoroughfares, close-knit neighbors, legacy of leadership, home to two historically black colleges or HBCUs (Shaw University and Saint Augustine’s University).

What residents don’t like: Displacement, lack of investment, lack of communication about projects coming to the neighborhood, lack of black-owned businesses, lack of play areas and communal spaces, uneven growth, gentrification, schools’ ratings, connotation of poverty.

Words to describe Southeast Raleigh?: Anxious, hopeful, love, nostalgia, family-driven, conflicted, fortunate, concerned. 

What residents would like to see work better: More police engagement, for the community to have control over its destiny, ability to build wealth, race relations, Chavis Park, more innovation, revitalization of the Boys & Girls Club, reinvestment in the community from businesses coming into Southeast Raleigh, trust and cooperation between city and community, growth that benefits all, affordable housing (and its different definitions), farmers market or grocery store, inclusionary programming throughout the district, intergenerational leadership, job training and re-entry programing. 

What’s next

The next steps will include an event the last weekend in October, a Friday evening and Saturday, Oct. 25 & 26. 

The organizers are still seeking partners and you can still participate as a Southeast Raleigh community stakeholder. Email seraleighcommunityengagement@gmail.com to get updates and information. 

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