East side neighbors, city officials refuse to allow crime to define the Grace Tuxedo neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Peggy Stephens has lived in her Grace Tuxedo home since she was 10-years-old. This neighborhood is on Indy's east side and takes up the area from 10th Street to Michigan Road Street and Sherman Drive to Linwood Avenue. Stephens' home is now the house in which she raises her children.

"This house, it means everything to them," Stephens said. "It really does."

Stephens echoed some of the other people living in her community when she said she wants the problem houses taken care of.

"I hate to see big old fields, but they're better than looking at empty, abandoned, unsafe homes," Stephens explained.

Stephens remembers playing outside with friends until the street lights came on, but she said that's not an option for children in the neighborhood these days.

"I love seeing the kids in the neighborhood, you know," Stephens said. "I wish that that could come back to a safe point."

Grace Tuxedo was selected by the City of Indianapolis' Department of Business and Neighborhood Services. Dimitri Kyser, public information officer for the department, said the area was chosen because the crime became a problem.

"Grace Tuxedo was picked because there are some issues affecting quality of life," Kyser said. "Criminal activity that's taking place albeit drugs, narcotics, prostitution."

According to the city's data from 2017, the median household income for this area is around $30,000. The poverty rate is 34 percent. But neighbors tell CBS4 numbers do not define a neighborhood.

"Mom and I do have it hard because we help everybody, I mean try to help everybody," Stephens said. "It's hard to stand on your own anymore."

City leaders agree.

"Every neighborhood, although different, is the same," Kyser said. "You want the same out of your neighborhood. That's to have a safe community, to have a safe neighborhood where you can raise your children."

On Wednesday, teams made up of employees from the department of business and neighborhood services, IMPD officers, members of the department of public health and safety as well as the Marion County Health Department went door-to-door asking people if they needed any help, information, and even if there was enough food in their home.

"We see these people, we see the issues," Vanessa Hinshaw said. Hinshaw is the Multi Agency Coordinator with the department of business and neighborhood services. "We're coming out and addressing these issues based on complaints or calls for help."

The community also enjoyed a resource fair where they could get information on health and prenatal care, child care and employment assistance. If you would like to schedule an event like this, reach out to the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services. 

If a neighbor does have an issue they would like addressed, call the Mayor's Action Line at 317-327-4622 or visit their website.

Grace Tuxedo is one of the "hot spots" the mayor's team is focusing on for employment opportunities. These selected areas are based on employment rates, crime statistics, available community assets, basic demographics and residents at or below the poverty level. You can read more about the plans on the EmployIndy website.

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