Some neighbors in South Dallas are fighting crime and violence in a unique way. Members of Urban Specialists are going door to door and engaging families along 16 different streets.
As the sounds of lawn mowers blare on Spring Garden and York streets, a group of neighbors is on a mission.
“It’s a beautification project,” said Kelvin McGee.
The project has a purpose. For this team, it is focused on sweeping the streets of something specific.
“The senseless crimes and the violence that is going on,” said Tonya Sparks.
Members of the non-profit group Urban Specialists have adopted 16 streets in South Dallas. They are making their presence known by tackling areas that have been hit pretty hard with crime.
McGee grabbed a rake and guided some of the residents as they bagged piles of trash.
“Watch yourself there,” McGee advised one of the residents. “Make sure man, you don’t hit no needles or nothing like that, man, because we don’t know what’s in this trash down here.”
The group says its goal is to make an impact, by engaging and protecting some of its most vulnerable neighbors --like the seniors, and dad’s like Otis Owens, Jr. who just wants his three little girls to feel safe.
”The drugs and the violence,” Owens explained, “that’s the biggest concern I have right now.”
Even with those concerns, the reality is the group knows promoting positive change can be a challenge. Workers were going door-to-door. Some residents they say, are still too nervous to open up and engage.
Urban Specialist Dermonico Townsend said, ”Trust is hard over here, you know. So, we just want to show a good sign that they could trust us.”
Urban Specialists recently opened the 16 Streets Initiative store front at the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Elsie Faye Heggins Street. It is a resource center for the community and the police. The group hopes neighbors will see it as a safe-haven in South Dallas.
”They’ve been told so many things,” Townsend explained, “and we want to set the record straight that we’re here. We are here to help.”
The Urban Specialists say they will be out and about in the community, working their 16 street zones every week.