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Greenwood Neighborhood Plan





Sierra House Entrepreneur Leadership Program (SHELP)

is a community-based volunteer program that operates in partnership with urban schools to teach students business ownership and managerial skills.

The classes will be arranged to portray a business-like environment, and all lessons will use real-life business scenarios. Students will gain social, leadership, decision-making, and business-ownership skills. They will learn how to work together as a team and to develop a solid work ethic. SHELP will inform its students of productive options that are available.

This six-month program will accommodate up to twenty eleventh-grade students. Classes will be held once a month after school or on Saturdays for 1 hour and 30 minutes by arrangement of school personnel at the student’s current school.

​The Sierra House’s staff has already coordinated with several schools who wish to offer this program.



The Greenwood Neighborhood Plan


Taking the lead role but in collaboration with others, Sierra House will create a Greenwood Neighborhood Plan. The goal will be to work with entities that have a record of success in stabilizing neighborhoods and creating long-term sustainable change, with a core competency focusing on redeveloping vacant and abandoned homes for market-rate and affordable homeownership. The plan will be resident driven and will be instrumental in developing a guide for making future community development decisions as they relate to health, housing, education, public safety, jobs, and more. Additional components will include adapting former industrial and commercial buildings as mixed-use developments, developing resident leaders, leading the community vision process, and engaging in comprehensive planning.


The planning process will be instrumental in bringing residents and community partners together, gathering information, identifying primary stakeholders, collecting data via surveys, and forming a steering committee. The steering committee will play a crucial role and will include both renters and homeowners, police officers who patrol the area, civil servants, block association members, business owners, schools and churches, and others parties who have a vested interest in the community.


Part of the plan will be to create a vibrant urban village consisting of a mixture of housing, businesses, and access to mass transit, along with cultural institutions and restaurants. Partners will also need to have the vision, capacity, experience, and track record to bring this plan to fruition. Any partner will need to assist in real estate development, resurrecting vacant homes, using the arts as a tool for urban revitalization, selling and renting properties, and providing homebuyer foreclosure counseling. The centerpiece will be building a strategy for revitalizing neighborhoods through high-impact development of vacant and troubled properties. 


Neighborhood Size, Dimension and Demographics

The Greenwood section of East Orange, the target neighborhood, is 0.147 square miles. It consists of 18 blocks and portions of three additional blocks. It is within the City of East Orange, Essex County. The Greenwood area, which is adjacent to the home base of Sierra House, encompasses residential and multi-family units, two small commercial districts, and several industries. It is bound by Martin Luther King Blvd. (Main Street) to the south, Fourth Avenue to the north, Greenwood Avenue and North 19th Street (adjoined via Park Avenue) to the west, and the City of Newark and the NJ Transit railroad easement to the east. Greenwood is less than a mile from Sierra House on the north side of Interstate 280. While residential in nature, the population density is high, as many residences are two- and three-family homes. There is an abundance of low- and mid-rise apartment buildings. There are also many vacant and abandoned properties. The primary census tracts for the target neighborhood are 103, 107, and 108. There are 3,195 people who live within the target neighborhood of a city population of 64,270. The neighborhood is urban in nature, with a high population density and a mix of low-rise apartments and multiple-family homes with some private detached homes. Greenwood has 21,722 people per square mile, slightly denser than the city as a whole, which has 16,432 per square mile.


Neighborhood Age Distribution

Sex and Age in city of East Orange         
Male        31,429    45.01%
Female    38,395    54.99%
Median age (years)    33    
18 years and over    50,188    71.88%
Male                           21,465    30.74%
Female                      28,723    41.14%

21 years and over    47,327    67.78%

62 years and over    9,557    13.69%

65 years and over    7,845    11.24%


The City of East Orange is 4.1% White, 88.5% Black, 0.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 3.7% other, and 2.5% two or more races. Hispanics, who could be of any race, comprise 7.9% of the population. In the Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) code 07017, which includes Greenwood, there are 1,498 males and 1,700 females. The median age of males is 38.9, and for females, it is 41.8.


Neighborhood Education

Less than HS Diploma 26%

High School Diploma: 84.4%

Bachelor’s Degree: 16%


Neighborhood Crime and Safety

The crime rate in East Orange is considerably higher than the national average. The chance of becoming a victim of either a violent crime or a property crime in East Orange is 1 in 40. In 2014, for the City of East Orange, the crime rates per 1,000 population were as follows: murder 9.3%, rape 18.6%, robbery 285.6%, assault 315.1%, burglary 554.1%, theft 897.2%, auto theft 419.1%, and arson 14.0%.


Crime Reduction Strategies

In 2004, the East Orange Police Department implemented a proactive, data-driven crime prevention policing strategy for achieving more effective and efficient outcomes. This strategy included utilizing the latest technology, including light-based interventions, intelligence-led and "real-time" policing methods, and identifying and tracking offending patterns as they emerged. This helped the East Orange Police Department to achieve crime reductions at a rate roughly 12 times the national average; lower crime-related economic losses by tens of millions of dollars; a reduction in fear about crime, and increased productivity and efficiency. Although still higher than many other cities’, the crime rate in East Orange has declined drastically over the past 10 years (, giving rise to proactive crime prevention productivity. Likewise, police engagement levels have increased exponentially. Residents feel safer, and in 2010, more than 89% of citizens who were surveyed reported being satisfied with police services. On the contrary, in 2004, less than 20% of residents felt safe or were satisfied with police services. Sierra House is looking forward to keeping the momentum going by increasing residents’ awareness and encouraging neighborhood watch groups.


Neighborhood Detail: Poverty, Household Income, Unemployment and Housing*

Nearly one in five East Orange residents (18.2%) live in poverty. The median household income in 2013 in Greenwood was $41,687, and for the city overall, it was $36,871. The unemployment rate in 2014 was 10.2%. In comparison to the state’s average homeownership rate of 65.6%, East Orange’s homeownership rate of 26.8% is significantly lower (2010 United States [U.S.] Census). About 78% of the city’s housing stock is multi-unit structures, with the remaining 22% being single-family homes. Recent studies have shown that neighborhoods with high homeownership rates have lower crime rates. As expected, in comparison to other cities, East Orange’s crime rate is higher than the state’s average. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the median home cost in East Orange is $213,000. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,161, and in Greenwood, it is $1,025.


**Data Sources: U.S. Census 2010, East Orange Police Department website 2015, East Orange City Hall 2015


Essex County Detail: Poverty, Household Income, Unemployment and Housing*

Percent of residents living in poverty: 16.6%

Median household income: $55,095

Unemployment: County average 7.4%

Median income: $55,095

Housing: Vacancy rate 11.3%, Owner occupancy rate 64.9%

Value: Median housing price $176,700


*Data Sources: Data were derived from the U.S. Census Bureau: State and County Quick Facts. Data were also derived from Population Estimates, the American Community Survey, the Census of Population and Housing, state and county housing unit estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, the Economic Census, the Survey of Business Owners, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Census data were originally gathered in 2010 and updated in April of 2015. Unemployment data are from April 2015.


New Jersey State Detail: Poverty, Household Income, Unemployment, and Housing*

Percentage of residents living in poverty: 10.4%

Median household income: $71,629

Unemployment: State average 5.9%

State Median Income: $71,629

Housing: Vacancy rate   ?? Owner occupancy rate 65.6%

Value: Median housing price $327,100


*Data Sources –Data were derived from the U.S. Bureau of the Census: State and County Quick Facts. Data were also derived from Population Estimates, the American Community Survey, the Census of Population and Housing, state and county housing unit estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, the Economic Census, and the Survey of Business Owners. Unemployment data are from April 2015.


Planning Process –Preparing a Plan to Engage Stakeholders                                                                   

To prepare for a successful neighborhood plan, Sierra House has been proactive in pre-planning. These efforts started with researching the history of East Orange, reviewing the city plan, and reviewing past redevelopment plans. In alignment with the city’s vision, Sierra House identified Greenwood and completed the much-needed research to proceed. At the time, Sierra House understood and realized the importance of building community relationships, making the plan resident driven, and engaging all stakeholders. The organizations also understood that it was critical to gain support from the City of East Orange.


Taking these factors into consideration, Sierra House began to take steps to accomplish its goal by meeting frequently with the new administration of East Orange, getting to know the mayor, city council, zoning department, and director of policy and planning. During the meetings, Sierra House listened to the administration’s needs, plans, and ideas for the city and shared their desire to join efforts to participate. Born from these discussions was the city’s willingness to support Sierra House and the approval of Sierra House’s application to become East Orange’s very own Community Development Housing Organization (CHDO).


The next step was to garner support from the community, including residents, businesses, non-profits, and other key stakeholders. To accomplish this task, Sierra House helped to form a Meet and Greet Campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to meet with members of the community to share what we are doing and to obtain feedback. Each month since the beginning of the summer 2015, the community organizer, a volunteer, and other staff members have been assigned to attend community meetings and to meet with partner organizations. So far, they have met with several city department heads, including those of: La Casa Don Pedro, to learn about its housing counseling program and the other resources it offers; the United Way, to learn more about its programs; the East Orange Housing Authority; and the East Orange Police and Fire departments. In addition, they have attended meetings held by the mayor, several members of the East Orange City Council Civic Cares Foundation, a group of East Orange business owners and residents, and many more organizations and community leaders. 


Planning Process Structure Timeline

The planning process will take 13 months and will be broken down into steps. Each step is listed below with the anticipated time of completion. 


Step 1: The proposed planning process will begin with clearly identifying the target neighborhood and defining the boundaries of the neighborhood. 

Anticipated Time Line: 1 month


Step 2: After the boundaries of the plan are established, the community organizer will play an important role in getting the neighborhood involved in the planning process, including the residents, government, non-profit and business community, and other interested stakeholders. A major goal of the community builder is to empower local residents to take responsibility for their areas. Residents will be contacted directly, which includes via door-to-door visits and phone calls, social media, print media, community meetings, public service announcements (PSAs), advertisements, and direct mail.     

Anticipated Time Line: 2 months


Step 3: The third step is to create a steering committee. The steering committee will be resident driven and will consist of both renters and homeowners, police officers who patrol the area, civil servants, block association members, business owners, schools and churches, and others parties who have a vested interest in the community.

Anticipated Time Line: 1 month


Step 4: The fourth step is data collection and interpretation. Data will be collected via paper survey and by using Survey Monkey, an online survey instrument. The purpose of gathering data is to gain a better understanding of the neighborhood and the needs of the community, while interpreting the data will allow the committee to pinpoint important issues and concerns.

Anticipated Time Line: 3 months


Step 5: The fifth step is goal setting that represents the community and best satisfies its needs.

Anticipated Time Line: 1 month


Step 6: The sixth step is to discuss the goals and to come up with different options for accomplishing each goal. After options are established, the committee will discuss and decide which approaches are best suited to accomplish each goal.

Anticipated Time Line: 1 month


Step 7: The seventh step is to put the plan together, outlining and analyzing the data, goals, and policies that have been established, including strategies and specific courses of action.

Anticipated Time Line: 1 month


Step 8: The eighth step is to establish a plan of action for implementing the project and a timeline for these actions to take place by taking into consideration what resources are available, what resources are needed, how to create more available resources, how to identify costs, funding, and how to bring about financial stability.

Anticipated Time Line: 1 month


Step 9: The last step is monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan. The goal of this step is to decide which parts of the plan work and to revise the parts that do not work.

Anticipated Time Line: Ongoing


If you are interested in participating in the Neighborhood Plan or joining a committee, please contact Keely Freeman at (973) 678-3556 or via email at


Signing Contract
2015-07-15 14.10.27
Happy Pastor
Kids in Slide
Power Walk
Supermarket Trip
Teacher and Young Student
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