TUCSON, Ariz. - A Tucson neighborhood is beating crime and homelessness with help from the City of Tucson -- and the strong will of the people who live there.
People in Barrio Santa Cruz can look up and see "A" Mountain, but they used to look around and see trouble---a lot of it from homeless people.
Neighborhood Association President Jason Huaraque remembers how it was. He says, "There was bathing going on at the water fountain over here near the kids area. Laundry happening and clothes being hung out. The most disturbing was the drug use. There was open drug use. There was drug use in the bathrooms, things like that. There was theft happening among the properties in the neighborhood."
But early last winter neighbors in the Barrio Santa Cruz Association turned frustration and fear into action.
They got help from Ward One Councilmember, now incoming Mayor Regina Romero.
Tucson Police got more involved as part of a push to be in better touch with the neighborhoods.
When a neighborhood like Barrio Santa Cruz one reports problems with homeless people the City of Tucson does not just chase them away. It attempts to move them to a better situation through what the city calls the homeless protocol and tries to get them into counseling and maybe housing assistance."
As the neighbors built their understanding of what the city could do they and the city solved other problems, Ormsby Park had repairs and renovations and the community center started hosting events again.
"The streets were on schedule to be fixed through county bonds. As you can see they're all just recently paved in the last year."
Pastor Dennis Barreras of Harvest Center Christian Church looks around and sees the results of people who believed they could change their neighborhood, and did.
“We are in charge of our own destiny. And so, we should take those first steps into for everybody to try it and it works."