CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As many neighborhoods are taking to the streets to enjoy the annual National Night Out in America, one community is using the event to help turn its fortunes around.
Barbara Simpson has lived in Grier Heights for much of her life, and she said that she remembers how great it once was.
"I moved to Grier heights when I was 10-years-old... you could go, leave home, leave the door open,” she said. "You could leave the doors open and sleep on the screened-in porch and nobody bothered you."
But in recent years the name Grier Heights has become known as one of violent crime and police tape. According to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, in 2012 Grier Heights had four murders and dozens of other types of violent crimes including armed robberies and assaults.
"We're a transit neighborhood," Simpson said.
Simpson is the Grier Heights Neighborhood Association President, and other community leaders said that efforts to change the image of the community may finally be paying off; new homes are being built.
A neighborhood study showed that less than 13-percent of residents owned homes in Grier Heights, which numbers more than 3000 residents. Now eight homes are being built along the corner of Heflin and McVay Streets.
Simpson said that the goal to changing the neighborhood starts with getting as many people involved with events like National Night Out.
"Once they get to meet their police and other neighbors, then they will want to be a part of this [Grier Heights neighborhood],” Simpson said.
"We're trying to empower people to say, ‘we want to keep the neighborhood clean, we don't want you out on the corners. We want to change the image of the neighborhood.’"