The Huntington County Council on Aging is working with the residents of the Huntington NNORC neighborhood to develop resources that will impact its banner issue of information access for personal safety.
Geographic region covered: Approximately 6.2 square miles in central portion of Huntington
History of the neighborhood: Since the development of the residential area(s), there has been a definite divide between the small residential areas on the northern portion and the southern portion of the larger neighborhood. The standard of living and economic factors led to a more prosperous north side. The residential areas on the south side, especially those bordering the river, were mainly populated by the laborer, i.e., railroad worker as opposed to a manager. In the mid to late 1800s, the neighborhood was defined by the railroad (and the 16 spur lines) diagonally crossing the neighborhood. After the railroad industry declined, heavy machinery parts development and small parts manufacturing was the labor market leader for at least 45 years until the late1990s.
Past strengths: In the past, several factors made Huntington a good place to call home. Those factors include: steady employment, inexpensive housing, work within walking distance from home, safe neighborhoods, generous community, and a good educational system.
Past challenges: Huntington’s population is predominantly Caucasian with the community made up of many people of German and Slavic descent. The cultural diversification of population, including the existences of few minority households (by census definition), has presented challenges in the community in the past. There has been a sense that the community is not open to “outsiders.”
Huntington NNORC today:The neighborhoods of the past six decades are no longer in existence. Almost 50% of the housing units are rentals, housing stock is reasonable to poor, at least 27% of the residents on the south side are grandparents caring for grandchildren, and many older adults are on low fixed incomes. The neighborhood schools are standing, but not used by the Huntington school corporation. The infrastructure is in need of repair, and there are few amenities within walking distance of one’s residence. Current conditions make it very difficult for someone to comfortably “age in place.”
Current strengths: Community-wide leadership, relationship with and engagement of Huntington University, the presence and commitment of strong civic and social organizations.
Current challenges: Many of the current challenges are driven by economies: ubiquitous ‘brain drain’, job retention, lack of strong economic development. Others are community-based including the need for sustainable community development, downtown revitalization, safe and affordable housing, and neighborhood initiatives involving all residents. Population diversity continues to be an issue as well.
Opportunities for growth: Huntington is the second- largest community in northeast Indiana, a 9-county region. Some historic buildings are being restored and some older school buildings are in various stages of renovation for senior housing and neighborhood social service programming. New strategic and long-range community revitalization planning is taking place through community partnerships. Economic development has new leadership. Local elected officials are committed to neighborhood revitalization.
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