Smart Living: Preserving history in gentrifying neighborhoods

By: Naomi De Lucia

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Family homes, land and businesses are all at risk when it comes to gentrification in the United States.

More than 20 percent of lower income neighborhoods have fallen victim to it, but one woman is leading the charge to help people stay in their homes.

Berlean Roary lives just down the street from her granddaughter Naomi.

"We do homework. She tries to help me when I'm in the kitchen," Roary said.

Her entire life has been built around family and her community.

"I was born and raised here," Roary said.

When her husband passed, keeping up with rising costs and household repairs became a struggle.

"My roof was leaking in different little spots and I had a crack in my ceiling in one of my bedrooms and my bathroom floor was soft," Roary said.

Repairs that could cost $30,000. That's when Alesha Brown, and her non-profit, For The Struggle, stepped in.

"Folks are being displaced from their homes. They're being priced out of their homes," Brown said.

A civil rights attorney, Alesha started For The Struggle in Charlotte, North Carolina to help seniors fight development.

They do critical home repairs, environmentally friendly upgrades, assist with property tax relief and sign them up for the homestead act.

They also prepare trusts and estate planning, and supply meals for over a hundred seniors a week, all for free.

"I feel like, you know, we stand on their shoulders, right? We owe them, we have a responsibility to them to make sure they are taken care of," Brown said.

With two sons, two daughters, 12 grandkids and one great-grandson, Berlean hopes to continue to be part of all their lives and has no plans on leaving the neighborhood.

Voter education is also a critical part of For The Struggle's mission.

They have educated thousands of black and brown voters on their rights and helped them to get registered to vote.

For The Struggle, is a 501-C3 non-profit. It has a budget of more than $1.1 million and raises most of its funding through large corporations and foundations.

Right now, they have more than 400 volunteers who help with home repairs and food delivery.


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