Deerfield Hills is a modest neighborhood in a triangle bounded by South Academy Boulevard, Drennan Road and Hancock Expressway on the southeastern edge of Colorado Springs.
The area has struggled for years with gangs, crime and property deterioration. It is one of the poorest neighborhoodsin Colorado Springs, based on a variety of demographic data available at ZipSkinny.com and City-Data.com.
But it has its champions, led by longtime resident Doug Jones, shown here in a 2004 Gazette file photo.
Jones has rallied his neighbors to clean up Deerfield Hills, to establish a Neighborhood Watch program and drive the criminals out of the area. Jones was instrumental in lobbying the City Council to build a “sprayground“ at the Deerfield Hills Community Center after a city swimming pool there was closed.
In the 2007 Gazette photo, above, Amanda Schult played in the sprayground at the Deerfield Hills Community Center.
Now, Jones’ work is paying off again for Deerfield Hills. At its March 24 meeting, the City Council designated Deerfield Hills as a Neighborhood Strategy Area, which qualifies it for federal Community Development Block Grants.
There is strict criteria an area must meet to become a ore than half of its residents are designated as low- to moderate-income.
The City Council must approve a neighborhood once the financial need is certified. Only then can a neighborhood set goals and priorities and develop an improvement plan — a process that can take months.
Don Sides, who manages the block grant capital improvement program, puts the neighborhood into the mix for available grant funds — usually $600,000 to $800,000 each year. The designation is lucrative to a neighborhood. Here is a look at how three outgoing NSAs benefited over the years:
• Hillside, just southeast of downtown, won the coveted designation and has received $5.2 million in capital improvement grants over the years for infrastructure and $1 million for housing rehabilitation projects.
• Knob Hill, near Union Boulevard and Platte Avenue east of downtown, has received $1.4 million in capital improvement grants plus $2.8 million for housing rehab.
• Mesa Springs, west of Interstate 25 and south of Fillmore Street, has received $1.2 million in capital improvement grants and $1 million in housing rehab.
Click here to read a Powerpoint presentation Sides created regarding the strategy areas.
For more Information regarding designated neighborhood strategy areas please contact Valorie Jordan, manager of the city’s Housing and Community Development program. Her number is 385-5336.