Annual Hamilton Block Party

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Marin Independent Journal. Logo.
Stephanie Weldy, Marin Independent Journal

August 12, 2016

A thousand residents are expected to gather for a block party today with hot dogs, water slides and giveaways at Novato’s Bay Vista Apartments.

The party is not only a way to bring together residents of Hamilton’s affordable housing communities — Bay Vista Apartments and Creekside at Meadow Park.

Manny Fernandez, Director, Marin Family Action.It is also a way to celebrate healthy and happy living in the communities that were once no strangers to crime, said Manny Fernandez, executive director of the nonprofit Marin Family Action.

“It’s every year we keep the crime rate down,” said Fernandez, head of the group that organizes the annual party. “It’s an incentive for neighbors to communicate and to ensure neighborhoods are safe.”

Affordable housing often comes with a negative reputation by some who fear it will attract robberies, drugs and other crime. Marin Family Action stepped in to help counter any negative impacts and to create a sense of community in Novato’s affordable housing structures.

The Bay Vista community, built in 2007, offers 67 affordable housing units, according to Clark Blasdell, president and CEO of Northbay Family Homes. The Creekside community, built in 2004, provides 217 affordable units.

The nonprofit’s Neighborhood Safe Program, which Fernandez founded three years ago, did that with neighborhood watch groups, which designated block captains every four blocks so crime and suspicious activity could be reported. The program also ushered in educational programs including financial literacy classes and neighborhood events such as Saturday’s block party and movie nights. The results have been a game changer, according to those familiar with it.

Judy Arnold with Clark Blasdell at Hamilton's Block Party 2016.Marin Supervisor Judy Arnold (right at the Hamilton Block Party, with Clark Blasdell) said she has seen crime rates decline since the program launched.

“It’s just really an example of what can happen when a community, like the affordable housing at Hamilton, decides they want to be a real community and fight crime in the neighborhood,” Arnold said. “They also want it where neighbors can help each other. It’s a real success story.”

The county contributes roughly $45,000 a year to help fund the program.

Amorette Barron, a resident and block captain in Creekside at Meadow Park, said she has seen residents of the communities become more than neighbors. She said she now knows a large majority of her housing community on a first-name basis.

“It’s important because it helps us give back in appreciation to the community and for them to know we all are one,” she said. “They can come to us or we can go to them.”

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.


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