The Green Impact Zone initiative launched with grand fanfare five years ago, but the staff quietly closed its office earlier this year.
Federal, regional, private and city funding have ended after about $166 million were pumped into a 150-square block area in the inner city. The area went from 39th Street to 51st Street and included Troost and Prospect avenues and as well Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, helped push the Green Impact Zone, which got federal stimulus money. First Lady Michelle Obama invited the head of the Green Impact Zone to watch the 2010 State of the Union address in her box.
The plan was to never permanently fund the neighborhoods. But residents say they can tell a difference.
Weatherized homes, new sidewalks and curbs, litter pickup, street resurfacing, improved bus service and literacy programs were among the offerings.
Supporters say the work is not finished because decades of neglect cannot be undone in five years of concentrated efforts.
Pearlie Jackson said she can see a difference.
"When I first moved in, it was not as nice as it is now," Jackson said. "There was a lot of chaos and drugs in the neighborhood."
She learned about opportunities for home repairs and utility bill savings.
She purchased new energy efficient windows and appliances after learning about ways to save energy. Kansas City Power and Light put in a new thermostat and meter.
She said her electric bill has gone from $167 a month to $90 to $100.
Ivanhoe neighborhood president Margaret May said the benefits are tangible.
"People began to take pride and that's at the heart of revitalization," she said. "People caring about where they live."
Twana Hall-Scott of the Mid-America Regional Council, which oversaw the Green Impact Zone, said an important groundwork has been laid.
"We were there to jump-start a process and we've done that and now those people have more capacity to further their own agenda," she said. "The revitalization will continue, it will just be in a different format. We weren't there to be an institution forever, but to jump-start the process."
To see the initiative's website, click here.
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