Wellington’s Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is restoring its unique neighborhoods by reducing crime, revitalizing aging, neglected properties and reigniting residents’ community spirit. Wanting to be pro-active, Wellington’s Council reinvested funds and reallocated resources mid fiscal year 2010 to create this new initiative. A team was put in place to combat crime issues as the program’s first phase, while simultaneously planning for future phases that call for redevelopment, neighborhood planning, and financing, a program coined Wellington 2060.
Wellington’s dedication to results rather than process was evident through programs to gather help from local volunteers; involve businesses and build partnerships with public and private entities to solve these problems. Despite having one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, Wellington received no federal, state or county funding nor did it qualify for other “low income” or housing oriented programs despite its changing population and visible need.
Wellington’s leaders sought a different way. By reinvesting over $1.15 million to hire a problem-solving team that included Community Policing Officers, Code Compliance Officers and Neighborhood Advocates, the team reviewed the mission of the Council, the needs of the community and developed a simple yet compelling mission: Reduce Crime and Improve Neighborhoods. With a reduced budget of 15% over two years, the city faced economic challenges. With no money to build a new facility, Wellington reallocated resources by consolidating services to vacate their utility customer service building, completed renovation and one month later, opened its doors to the new Safe Neighborhoods Office, located in one of Wellington’s transitional neighborhoods needing help.
The program’s first year created a change in culture. Children who were once afraid of police coming into their streets were now communicating issues and providing tips to solve crimes. Residents who once stayed inside their homes were coming out into their neighborhoods to volunteer, help their neighbors and clean up their neighborhoods. Businesses donated supplies; vendors donated services and management volunteered their time. Giving back, getting results and helping residents with needs became the tagline of the department.