Westwood and East Westwood make strides toward safer, healthier communities with NEP

The communities of East Westwood and Westwood have teamed up to make their neighborhoods safer, healthier and more fun. Through support from the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program, East Westwood and Westwood have introduced five projects.

The projects include:
- A KABOOM playground on the campus of Cincinnati Urban Promise on Harrison Avenue
- A KABOOM playground in Hawkins Field in East Westwood
- A community garden on McHenry Avenue
- An urban farm in Bracken Woods
- Jubilee Market, located at the corner of McHenry and Harrison avenues, which will sell fresh produce from the urban farm and will operate as a thrift store on the weekends

Shawnteé Stallworth Schramm, president of the Westwood Civic Association and owner of the recently opened Muse Café, says that the process began when members of both neighborhoods were concerned about the violence.

“We [WCA] had done a lot of work with Westwood Uniting to Stop the Violence in Nov. 2015 in order to stop gun violence occurring all over the community,” she says.

The work to end violence by the WCA, local faith groups, city departments, civic organizations and other community partners caught the eye of Ethel Cogan, the NEP coordinator for the City of Cincinnati’s Department of Economic and Community Development. Cogan approached the WCA and partnering organizations about participating in the NEP to help sustain the reduction in crime in that area.

One of the projects, Jubilee Market, resides in the former U.S. Market. Stallworth Schramm says U.S. Market used to be a “hotspot” for criminal activity. “U.S. Market had a lot of loitering and the ownership was sort of nefarious. They claimed they didn’t know what was going on."

Law enforcement eventually shut down U.S. Market and the space was made available for the Jubilee Market project. Stallworth Schramm says that the addition of the new market cultivates a safer and healthier environment for citizens.

“Westwood is a food desert for produce; it’s great to have another access to fresh vegetables,” Stallworth Schramm says.

Since the NEP projects began, Stallworth Schramm says that Westwood’s crime score has been cut in half, and East Westwood’s crime score has been reduced by 70 percent.

“It’s a quality of life issue. The projects have greatly changed those areas. The people living near there have more reasons to go out and there’s a positive reason to go out.”

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Read more articles by Allison Smith Cohen.