ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- Imagine Bugs Bunny trying to plug an overflowing dam with his fingers and toes – a visual representation of what Abilene’s ICAN organization is trying to do as they work to keep low income residents in their homes as property values rise in the neighborhoods around them – a process also known as gentrification
A resident of the Carver neighborhood since she was 7-years old, Delois Thompson has seen this first hand.
Thompson said she grew up in a vibrant neighborhood, one filled with the sounds of children laughing and playing, but now has become an unfamiliar place.
Delois moved away for 30 years, traveling from London to Atlanta to Arkansas for work, only to come back to Abilene and move back into her childhood home to help take care of her mother.
She can stand on her front porch and see the empty lots that line each street and new housing being built right before her eyes.
An area filled with fond memories has almost become unrecognizable.
That is where the Interested Citizens of Abilene North, or ICAN, come in and help stop the gentrification that is inhabiting the Carver area.
New businesses are bringing in more opportunities, which in turn can leak over into the surrounding communities.
These opportunities allow for more development in the lower-to-middle income neighborhoods that surround the downtown area, leading to the purchase of empty lots to build more rent houses or business spaces.
“We need new buildings in the neighborhood, we need new businesses in the neighborhood,” Executive Director of ICAN Rosten Callarman said. “We just want to make absolutely sure that that economic reinvestment doesn’t harm the existing neighbors in the neighborhood, but also helps the existing neighbors in the neighborhood.”
His goal is to try and purchase as many empty lots in the Carver neighborhood in order to keep the neighborhood’s property close to the people who have cultivated it for generations.
But, the Carver neighborhood is just the beginning Callarman said.
“Our goal isn’t just to do this in the Carver neighborhood, but for the Carver neighborhood to become a template for how we can help this kind of reinvestment in economically sustainable ways in all of the low to moderate income neighborhoods in Abilene.” Callarman said.
He said that his reinvestment plan should pay dividends within the next decade, leading to a vibrant, steady and economically sound neighborhood that it once was.
ICAN will be holding a cleanup day this Saturday, beginning at 8:00 a.m., to help clean and maintain the Carver neighborhood with anyone who is willing welcome to participate.