Crime down on Near Northwest Side thanks to neighborhood association

South Bend, Ind. How quickly crime can be reduced in a neighborhood often depends on the neighborhood itself.

It often takes longer to turn the corner in the older, more blighted areas.

We're talking about the Near Northwest Side in South Bend.

A few years ago, a young professional decided to take a chance on this part of town by buying a big old home and fixing it up

You could say she's trying to put the gloss back on a neighborhood that, over the years, has lost a lot of its luster.

The corner of Van Buren and Portage has seen its share of crime over the years.
But things are changing.

Just ask Michelle Gloss who has lived at this corner for five years.

“I have to say it's definitely improved,” says Gloss. “When I first moved in, the majority of the houses on my block were vacant. I think at some point I counted maybe four or five occupied houses on the whole block and now we have substantially more on the block.”

The dip is thanks to the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association buying vacant homes, fixing them up and selling them.

And everyday citizens, like Gloss, who have done the same thing to revive what was once a bustling and safe neighborhood.

Gloss says that was an important first step.

“I know that there are a lot of people now that care a lot more,” she added.

And as neighborhood watch captain, she's leading the effort to keep her neighbors safe.

What does she do as neighborhood watch captain that she thinks is making a difference in the neighborhood? The main thing she does is keep people informed.

Gloss does that by checking the South Bend crime reports website to see what's going on in her neck of the woods and beyond.

“I tried to do it every week, and I pull off all the reported crimes... I put it into a couple different formats and I mail it out to the folks on the list serve so they can see what kinds of you know traffic stops or whatever crimes have been reported,” explains Gloss.

And she says many of the residents who have invested so much into this neighborhood are not afraid to report crimes to police.

“For example, lots of drinking outside, lots of profanity being used, fights--things like that, people aren't afraid to say ‘hey, can you calm it down?’ if they calm it down, we don't have an issue. If they don't we call the police.”

And Gloss believes the strategy is working.

She admits there are still problems but...

“Since the homes have been bought, since you've been active with other people in this neighborhood and neighborhood watch, do you at least feel safer than you did five years ago? Definitely, definitely do,” she said.

Another thing Gloss has noticed with increased home ownership is more people out walking.

Walking their dogs or walking with their families, putting a little life back in an area many had given up for dead.

And Gloss says she's gotten to know so many more neighbors just by walking her dog and interacting.

Trust develops among neighbors that way, they look out for each other and many more are now getting involved in neighborhood watch which is key to cutting down on neighborhood crime.

And remember to let us know about your successful neighborhood watch program.

Email Terry McFadden or leave him a note on his Facebook page.

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