Rise in child abuse, violent crimes, home repairs, and dead trees highlighted at March FNU

By Coner Segren

A rise in child abuse in Genesee County, a $200,000 grant to remove dead trees, available funds for home owners’ home repairs, and a presentation addressing  violent crime were items discussed at the monthly Zoom meeting of the Flint Neighborhoods United (FNU).

The zoom meeting was moderated by Theresa Roach, program director of the Crim Foundation, and FNU president Carma Lewis.

Cases of child abuse in Genesee County on the rise during pandemic

 A “severe” increase in childhood physical and sexual abuse in Genesee County correlates alarmingly to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a presentation by Claudnyse Holloman, president and CEO of the advocacy group Voices for Children. Studies cited by the group show that about 1 in 4 children in Genesee County will be victims of some form of sexual abuse, higher than the national average of 1 in 6.

“What we’re seeing is the abuse is just egregious and it’s so severe, it’s happening daily to the kids and it’s even more rampant,”  Holloman said. “In a given week, we’ll see between 16 to 20 families for just the new cases.”

Voices for Children provides services to any children in Genesee County who have suffered sexual, physical, as well as emotional abuse. According to Holloman, Voices for Children serves about 2,000 children a year. The group leads a multidisciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, Child Protective Services (CPS), the county prosecutor’s office, mental health providers, and hospitals. 

Voices of Children logo (Photo source: Voices of Children website)

“We all collaborate together so that we ensure that we are not dropping the ball on any of our child abuse cases,” Holloman said.  “Instead of having the kids and their parents go through the systematic barriers of each entity, they come to one place, Voices for Children.”

In addition to services for children and legal advocacy for the life of the case, the group also provides material support to non-offending family members who are the primary caregiver for the child. This includes finding safe housing, providing diapers and clothing, as well as other needed items such as car seats.

“It’s imperative for our community to recognize that it’s happening, to begin talking about it and to not allow it to continue being a silent epidemic,” Holloman said.

Voices for Children can be contacted at 810-238-3333 or at their website www.voicesforcac.org. Their offices are located at 515 East Street, Flint, 48503.

Neighborhood Impact Program offers funds for home repairs 

Homeowners in need of repairs to make their homes more accessible can apply for funds through the Metro Community Development’s Neighborhood Impact Program (NIP). Qualifying homeowners can receive up to $7,500 to make repairs to things like roofing, siding, HVAC, and knob and tube replacement. The program is funded by grant money from places like the Mott Foundation and Kettering University.

To qualify, the homeowner’s gross household income must be at or below 80% of Area Medium Income (AMI). The homeowner must also have lived in the home for at least six (6) months prior to applying for NIP, and mortgage and property taxes must be paid as agreed and current   To check your AMI, you can visit the Metro Community Development website at https://metrocommunitydevelopment.com/ 

To apply, contact Metro Community Development and request an application for NIP by calling 810-767-4622 extension 360

Genesee Conservation District receives grant to remove dead trees

The Genesee Conservation District (GCD) has received a grant of $208,579 from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for the removal of over 330 dead and dangerous trees throughout the city of Flint.  GCD Administrator Angela Warren said.the targeted trees are those on sidewalks and curbs that pose a threat to nearby people and property.

“Our forestry work is improving safety while restoring neighborhood vitality through green infrastructure,” Warren said.  “The Genesee Conservation District will continue to encourage and activate conservation in the revitalization of our neighborhoods and community.

More information can be found on their website Our Work is Life | Genesee Conservation District | Genesee County, MI (geneseecd.org)

Flint police and Michigan State Police partnering on initiative to address violent crime

The Flint Police Department (FPD) is partnering with the Michigan State Police to start the Safe Neighborhood Initiative. The aim of the program is to strengthen bonds between communities and police to help address violent crimes in neighborhoods, according to Lt. Jeffrey Short, a state trooper from the Michigan State Police.

When violent crimes occur in a neighborhood, information gleaned from residents is important. However, Short cited several reasons, such as issues of trust or safety that often prevent residents from coming forward.

Flint Police vehicle. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“We’re trying to find a way to get out into the community and try to educate or build trust with the community so that they feel safe enough or so they know how to share this information that is very vital to the investigation [of a violent crime],” Short said.

One part of the plan Short outlined is using Flint community groups such as Flint Neighborhoods United and Crime Stoppers to connect with neighborhoods and get out requests to residents for information. The plan also involves direct appeals to residents through door-to-door canvases. 

“We need them to see that we care, that we need information and that we need your help,” Short said.  “In the end, I think it’s important, that we, being the community and we, being law enforcement, are now coming together on a regular basis.”

The next Flint Neighborhoods United monthly Zoom meeting is scheduled for e9:30 a.m.  Saturday, April 3.  The link to join the meeting can be found on the FNU website at www.flintneighborhoodsunited.org or on the FNU Facebook page.

EVM reporter Coner Segren can be reached at csegren@umich.edu.

Author: Tom Travis

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