Jefferson East organization helps businesses, residents survive and thrive

The Jefferson East Corridor covers 18.4 square miles and five neighborhoods. Despite the challenges the area has endured, there are resources to keep people from this Detroit community in their homes.

"How do we get them plugged into quality jobs, how do we help them stay in their homes, repair their homes, make their homes clean, safe and healthy," said Josh Elling.

Elling, the CEO of Jefferson East, Incorporated, said one of the ways they've answered those questions is to connect residents with resources.
One example is over the past year the organization reports it's provided access to $240,000 in home repair grants and loans and they're hoping to improve that figure this year, and help even more residents.

"People who work on our team they're actually people who live in the community," said Kenita Harris, COO of Jefferson East. "They live right within the neighborhoods which we serve so we're really vested within the community."

"I must say I've seen it all happen," said James Johnson.

Johnson, who grew up in the area, is not only homegrown, he now is a small business owner on East Jefferson. He can see the progress the community has made.

"It's always been family orientated, just getting back to the way it used to be," he said.

Jefferson Inc. has stats on just how much improvement there's been. In 2020 in a collaboration with other partners they helped get rid of 79 tons of trash in the area, removed 78 graffiti tags along the corridor, and linked more than 4,500 residents to a range of safety services. It also helped more than 10,000 people with Covid support and recovery services,.as part of a long term effort 

"Jefferson East over the past seven years has been able to push crime rates down 46 percent," Elling said. "We've been able to bring in new development, bring in new restaurants like Norma G's.

"We want to make sure that long-term Detroit residents are able to benefit from the growth in their neighborhoods."

The organization also plans to launch a neighborhood resource hub that should be open come this summer.

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