TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The house at 3334 S.E. Girard St. in Topeka’s Hi-Crest neighborhood stands out from many of the other houses on the block. Not just because of how it looks, but because of what it represents.
“It really is kind of a symbol to the neighborhood of this is a community worth investing in,” said SENT Topeka Executive Director Emily Hane.
It’s being built by the organization SENT Topeka. Their name stands for strengthening and equipping neighborhoods together.
One way they do that is through rebuilding and repairing houses to help revitalize neighborhoods.
“We take a house that somebody’s lived in and try to make it our own,” said Director of Operations Kent Pope. “Would we feel comfortable? Would we feel safe? Would we love to call it our house instead of it’s just a place to go to?”
But their work goes beyond just making the neighborhood nice. It’s about helping the people who live there. They work with residents on getting jobs and housing.
”Anytime you can increase the homeownership in a neighborhood, that just increases your pride,” said Hane. “You’re invested a little bit differently than if you’re renting and that’s how you make actual change that lasts from one generation to the next.”
Organizers with SENT Topeka believe that creating a neighborhood residents can be proud of will empower them to be a part of the positive change.
“When you open up somebody’s eyes to what can be possible in a neighborhood, that’s the most rewarding thing where people start dreaming,” Hane said. “People start thinking ‘Okay, what else can we do?’ and that’s a change of the narrative that this neighborhood hasn’t had in a while.”
In addition to building homes, SENT Topeka also offers counseling services and a youth education program to people in the community.
For more information about SENT Topeka, click HERE.