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Tallahassee organization creating a pathway out of poverty in South City neighborhood

Posted at 4:11 AM, Jul 24, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Creating a pathway out of poverty and crime that's the goal of the Purpose Built Communities organization.

The next project in line for the non-profit is revitalizing Tallahassee's South City neighborhood.

"South City doesn't want to be the bad part of town any longer. Something needs to be done and it needs to be done swiftly," said Pastor Eric Johnson of Greater Love Church.

Transforming this struggling neighborhood that's what Pastor Eric Johnson is hoping for.

He lived in South City back in the 80's and now runs Greater Love Church.

"The area has progressively gone down I would say and I think it's primarily due to less renters with a vested interest in the community," said Pastor Johnson.

According to an Urban Land Institute study 70 percent of South City neighbors live in poverty, 20 percent are unemployed, and this neighborhood has the second highest rate of gun-related crimes in Tallahassee.

That's where Purpose Built Communities steps in.

The non-profit has a three pronged approach creating quality affordable housing, cradle to college education, and community centers that encourage healthy living.

"It's a proven strategy to go into communities that are dealing with poverty issues, lack of education, and really transform these communities in such a unique way. Integrating them to really break the cycle of inter-generational poverty," said Shonda Knight, South City Foundation Leadership Board.

Shonda Knight is part of the Leadership Board working with purpose built communities to make this a reality for the South City.

She says the organization's model has shown success in communities across the country.

"It is remarkable. You can see what's happened in that community and to think that we are just steps away from that same kind of progress in Tallahassee is truly, truly exciting," said Knight.

"These things I think are easily changeable with the right people with the right heart to get the job done," said Pastor Johnson.

The next steps will be forming a partnership between Purpose Built Communities and the Leon County school district to work together on the education part of the program.

As for the housing aspect the county is looking to secure funding from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.