Area community a work-in-progress with help from $100,000 grant

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Historic Manheim Park is overrun with dilapidated homes. The area located east of Troost, is alongside tree lined streets with homes either lived in or long forgotten.

The community is a work-in-progress.

“It’s somewhat impoverished, neglected,” describes Jim Dunn, who moved to the neighborhood last year. “We had a murder this summer just a block down from here. We heard it.”

But the problems didn’t stop Jim Dunn from uprooting his family from Waldo to the Historic Manheim Park neighborhood.

“Seeing about what Martin Luther King talked about, integration but not through forced integration, just by people being neighborly to each other and wanting to be neighbors with each other,” said Dunn.

Dunn hopes to strengthen the community with the help of The Immanuel Lutheran Church where he has served as pastor for nearly six years.

Now more help is on the way. The Model Block Project will bring in six local architecture firms to create new houses right next door to his church.

“Each a different design, fitting the lines of the neighborhood, but being very temporary and very energy efficient. It’s very exciting,” Dunn said.

The six designs were funded through a $100,000 grant from the nonprofit organization, The Urban Neighborhood Initiative.

The revitalization effort started with the once abandoned Bancroft Elementary School. It was turned into apartments with another sleeker complex next door.

“We do see change and there’s more change to be done and it’s coming,” he said.

Dunn knows change doesn’t come fast, but he’s ready to stay for however long it takes.

“How are we going to make a change if we don’t come together? And that means we have to live here,” said Dunn.