Jake Thorsen, SoWe Neighborhood Director at Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership
Tell us a bit about the SoWe Initiative
The SoWe initiative is a resident-led, neighborhood revitalization effort for the South West (SoWe) neighborhood of Lancaster City. Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership (LHOP), its partners, and neighborhood residents are working to stem the tide of disinvestment and create a South West Lancaster City neighborhood that is clean, safe, attractive to economic investment, and welcoming to residents and visitors.
What role does quality of life play in a neighborhood?
SoWe is a neighborhood where we live, work, and play. SoWe hopes to promote an environment that is clean, safe, and inviting to families and residents. Quality of life encompasses so many things in a neighborhood and is easily recognized when parents feel secure allowing their kids to play outside, when trash and litter are properly disposed of, when housing costs are affordable, when parking is available as you return home from work, and when you feel safe walking to your neighbors house at night.
What things are you working on to address quality of life now and what do you hope to achieve in the future?
The SoWe Initiative is focused on improving quality of life for all residents. SoWe has developed a 25-person resident board of directors that meet monthly to discuss strategies to address and enhance quality of life in the neighborhood. SoWe strives to connect neighbors and create a joint sense of responsibility for each other and the neighborhood by encouraging resident networks through SoWe’s Block Liaison Program and our many events that celebrate the neighborhood and its residents. To date, SoWe has installed over 60 front porch lights in the neighborhood to increase nighttime lighting in efforts to improve safety. In partnership with the City of Lancaster, pedestrian style lighting has been installed on Manor St and W. King St. In partnership with Lancaster City Alliance, Bicycle Ambassador coverage has been expanded to the neighborhood with the ambassador serving as a resource to residents in SoWe to address quality of life issues. To combat litter and improper storage of trash, SoWe has hired a part-time clean team that picks up litter and reports dumping throughout the neighborhood. 15 public litter receptacles will also be installed throughout the neighborhood. Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership is focused on promoting housing affordability in the SoWe neighborhood, with its partners LHOP continues to purchase and renovate homes to sell to low to moderate income individuals.
We hope to continue to promote SoWe Lancaster as a great place to live and raise a family while being responsive to resident’s needs that effect their quality of life.