Stocktonians Taking Action to Neutralize Drugs

Birth – To understand the birth of STAND, one needs to understand the history of the “neighborhood” of Fairview Terrace. The neighborhood is a seventeen-block area of southeast Stockton, consisting of very low to middle income residents, most of who are African-American and Hispanic. Beginning with the ‘crack’ epidemic of the early 1990’s, the entire area became plagued by overt criminal activity and blatant outdoor drug sales. Many of these activities were occurring in and around the neighborhood elementary school (Garfield Elementary) and the neighborhood park (A.E. Williams Brotherhood Park). Residents of the neighborhood came to realize that the traditional approach to policing was ineffective. Born out of fear, weary of living in an area controlled by drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, gangs, and the sound of constant gunfire residents of the community decided it was time to take a STAND (Stocktonians Taking Action To Neutralize Drugs) and retake their neighborhood.

Community Policing – Residents of the Fairview Terrace area in Southeast Stockton organized STAND in July of 1991. Working in close coordination with the Police Department, and after 5 dangerous years of community policing work, STAND drove out over 80% of the crime out of their neighborhood. There are still problems, but contrary to public perception, the crime rate here is same or better than other areas of the city. Our efforts were so successful that the mayor at the time and other local leaders consider STAND a model of community empowerment and we won state and national awards for our efforts. Our community policing continues to this day with two meetings per month, one with residents and one with the Police Department to discuss and strategize solutions to ongoing crime issues. We also sit on the Chief of Police’s Citizen Advisory Board.

Community Building Events – Another objective was to put on community events and picnics to celebrate community and bring the scared and fragmented community back together. Included would be recreation and education activities for children. Some of these events would clean up the blight with community efforts to collect trash, eliminate graffiti, and paint and repair public structures. These annual events include the National Night Out, Easter Egg Hunt, Healthy Food Celebration, Public Health Immunization Clinic, Safe Summer/Drug Awareness Rally, Juneteenth Celebration, Day in the Park Picnic, Silver Lake Adventure Camp for kids, Red Ribbon Celebration, and Christmas Tree Lane.

Neighborhood Revitalization – STAND soon discovered there were problems other than just the elimination of crime that needed to be addressed in order to turn the neighborhood around. Some of the other components were slumlord housing, senior citizens needs and area teens with idle time on their hands. With these issues in mind, it became obvious that there was a need to design programs to address these issues. After numerous meetings and deliberations, STAND created the Neighborhood Housing Revitalization Program.

Slumlord Abatement – We went after slumlords and absentee landlords. We would work with code enforcement and the police to get drug dealing tenants evicted only to have the owner turn right around and rent out to new dealers and we would have to start all over. Warning and complaint letters were sent. If there was no response then police would raid the drug house and use drug abatement to close and board up the property. Many owners were sued in small claims court.

Home Security Lighting Project – We found that seniors were afraid to go outdoors because of burglaries, loitering, and drug dealing so we stated the Home Security Lighting Project. We secured a grant to install outdoor security-type mercury vapor lights for low income seniors. These lights served to deter the undesirables in their nighttime activities and the recipients were pleased with the results.

Beautification Project – The “Beautification Project” soon followed. This project provided yard maintenance for low-income seniors and others. The program not only helped find jobs for teens with limited job skills and work experience, but it also met the needs of low-income seniors who were either physically unable to do yard work or too poor to hire a gardening service. Power and hand tools were purchased through a City grant. Teens were hired to do the work. Those who could do their own yard work were able to borrow the necessary tools from a Community Tool Chest. The “Beautification Project” served to clean up blight in overgrown and neglect yards and employed local youth, thereby keeping them off the streets and allowing them to perform productive work.

Affordable Housing Program

First Time Home Buyers Program – In community meetings residents complained of housing problems from the fact that families had to move every year or two as their rented homes were sold. They questioned why they were unable to buy their own homes even though they had jobs and enough income to pay rent that was equal to or more than a mortgage payment. These families, along with STAND volunteers, professionals from private businesses, and community agencies began to meet on a regular basis to discuss such topics as credit reports, mechanics of home loans, government housing programs, debt payment, savings plans, and home shopping. In 1996 these meetings resulted in the creation of the “First-time Home Buyers Program.” It was a community-based program, which used regular group seminars, individualized coaching, and individualized home purchase assistance to get low-income families into their first homes.

1st Time Home Buyer Project – After six months the program evolved and the 1st Time Home Buyer Project was added. The 1st Time Home Buyer Project would purchase, rehabilitate, and sell formerly rundown single-family dwellings to the low-income families in the Home Loan Counseling Program. Remodeling these blighted neighborhood homes would go far toward rehabilitating the STAND neighborhood. As of June 2015 we have completed over 255 homes.

Very Low Income Rental Project – In 2009 we started doing rental apartment buildings and single family properties as a way to rehabilitate blighted areas and provide quality housing to very low income families who do not have enough income to purchase a home. We have 3 rental homes in South Stockton and two in Modesto. The apartment buildings we own and operate are: 43 units in Sienna Terrace, 4215 N. Pershing; 37 units in Casa de Oasis, 1700 S. El Dorado; and 12 units, 1225 El Monte.