Under the direction of REAL Services, Inc., the La Salle Park NNORC in South Bend, Indiana plans to pursue information and referral for seniors as its banner issue.
Geographic region covered: Census Tract 23/zip code 46619
History of the neighborhood: The La Salle Park neighborhood began as part of an industrial area comprised of employee housing. Many lower income people/families lived in La Salle Park in the South Bend project homes. When the industries changed and factories vacated, the projects were torn down. The space left behind was used to build a hill in what was then re-named La Salle Park.
Past strengths: Because many of the families living in the La Salle Park region knew one another from their factory ties, the neighborhood was very friendly and collegial. Neighbors were often willing to be of assistance to one another. Resources such as stores and other facilities were present in the neighborhood, contributing to the safe and welcoming feel.
Past challenges: As homeowners left the neighborhood – either through death or relocation -- non-resident landlords purchased the homes and failed to provide adequate upkeep. Many subsequent residents did not have the means or the desire to keep up the properties either. Many older residents who remained in the neighborhood had fears of the new neighbors, fueled in part by the development of a gang who challenges the neighborhood on many levels. In response to the gang activity and the diminished economic status of the residents who remain, many stores and other businesses have moved out of the neighborhood.
Current strengths: The local La Salle Park neighborhood association is working with city officials to try to re-develop the neighborhood and respond to local needs. The Charles Black Community Center is currently home to several community programs and the Ellison Senior Housing Residence is a desired home for many older residents. There is willingness on the part of many entities to make La Salle Park a good place to live again.
Current challenges: La Salle Park is unfortunately home to many vacant properties left in various conditions, from reasonable to boarded up and dilapidated. Due to the gang activity previously described, there is a sense of distrust and fear among residents, particularly those who are older and perceive themselves to be more vulnerable to criminal activity.
Opportunities for growth: Residents have responded positively to the projects presence in the neighborhood. The neighborhood association has made progress in the past and is looking at ways to get more people involved. Some renovations have occurred in the area of the park and on three blocks of the neighborhood. There is a growing interest and willingness to be involved, including on the part of the older adults who live in La Salle Park. The assets of the neighborhood are being articulated and needs are surfacing. Some can be addressed promptly; others will be presented to community/city leadership for discussion and action.
For more information:
Linda Kors, CSC,