Woman's vision to transform neighborhood Avalon Village expands

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She's transforming her neighborhood lot by giving kids a safe place to study and play and providing opportunities for women to create their own small businesses.

Now Shamayim "Mama Shu" Harris is expanding Avalon Village in Highland Park once again with nine new properties.

FOX 2: "Do you all the whole Avalon Street?"

"Well between Woodward and second Avenue, we almost do," she said.

Mama Shu's Avalon Village now consists of 30 properties, but recently she added nine - including two from Wayne County and seven from the Michigan Land Bank.

"We are going to be building on those shipping container structures and other things for the community on Avalon Street," she said.

And she knows about shipping container houses. Ellen DeGeneres donated one in September 2016.   And Jacobi, the name featured on the Homework House is in honor of her 2-year-old child who roughly 10 years ago was killed by a hit-and-run driver - which inspired Mama Shu to create Avalon Village. 

FOX 2: "What do you think he would say to you if you could see all this?"

"He would say 'Mama I'm so proud of you,'" she said. "He tells me that already in his spirit. He would love this park, he would be running around here joining in the activities, the community events and all that we do on this block," she said. "He would just be right at home."

Now the seven properties were purchased from the Michigan land Bank for about $300 each. The other two properties from Wayne County given to her.

"One is going to be the Avalon Village Healing House and we are going to do a home for veterans as well," she said.

If you want a house from the Michigan Land Bank, call them. There is an application and other requirements but they will give you homes. Mama Shu presented the city her plan, which is why she got so many of them. 

"Oh Michigan win bank will give you Holmes. You have to call them and fill out an application. I wish you get so many of them because she had a plan."

"All the neighborhoods they need to fix up, because there's a lot of blight," said resident John Fairrer.

And speaking of blight, the theme on the logo of Avalon Village says "From blight to beauty." To learn more, go to theavalonvillage.org.