WICHITA, Kansas – On Thursday, Mennonite Housing announced the completion of what it calls the French Quarter project. The $14 million affordable housing project replaced rundown buildings around 15th and Kansas St.
It took just a two months for the northeast neighborhood to reach full occupancy, which officials of this project say is not the norm. Residents that KSN’s Avery Anderson spoke to, say they are lucky to call the newly revamped neighborhood, home.
“This is a fantastic program,” explained Karen Brooks, a French Quarter resident.
It’s a project city officials say has cut down on crime and built hope for a part of the community that, in the past, has been a haven for illegal activity.
“I am so excited about today, because if you would have been in this particular area two years ago, it was crime infested. It was okay to throw couches and chairs and mattresses into the street. It was okay to do so many things, and now it’s not okay to do those,” stated Wichita City Council Member, Lavonta Williams.
Karen Brooks and her family moved into the neighborhood January 1st, looking for a new start in her home state after packing up and leaving Denver. Brooks says it’s a change she doesn’t regret.
“Lucky, really, really lucky. And, to be able to be placed so quickly when we got here and to be welcomed, it’s awesome,” Brooks said.
Brooks and her grandchildren live in one of the 78-brand new duplexes at the French Quarter development, which replaced decaying buildings with keypads and gates.
“We all have codes,” explained Brooks. “It makes a whole big difference when you’re calmer and not looking over your shoulder and police are outside all the time.”
Those involved with this construction project have high hopes that this will have a positive effect on the neighborhood.
“We do this sort of thing all over the state, but when we can have this broader impact on communities and neighborhoods, I think it’s particularly great,” stated Fred Bentley with Kansas Housing Resource Crop.
Officials say that this neighborhood has become so popular after this project was completed and almost 50 families are on the waiting list hoping for an opening.