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Community-based group helps Dallas residents avoid costly city code violation fines

Volunteers with Clean the Block Initiative clean up streets in South Dallas.
Courtesy of Clean the Block Initiative
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Volunteers with Clean the Block Initiative clean up streets in South Dallas.

Low-income residents are often the target for city code violations, but a Dallas community group is helping them avoid hefty fines by picking up trash and educating them on how to meet city standards.

“A lot of people don't know what their violations are , " Dallas resident and co-founder Brian O’Neil Hesson said. "So if they don't have the resources, they don't have the knowledge. How can they equip themselves to make sure that they don't go under that financial burden? ”

Hesson said his organization doesn’t just serve the community, but empowers it.

“This is to help clean up, to reshape, to rethink the way that we not only interact with one another community, but how we see our community, our visuals,” Hesson said.

The group’s philosophy: Cleaner streets can lead to safer and healthier neighborhoods.

Once a month, Clean the Block Initiative volunteers grab their pickers and trash bags and go into neighborhoods to pick up trash from the streets.

CBI recently teamed up with the Dallas Code Compliance Department to teach residents about city rules, including how to deal with the trash in their neighborhoods, and the city’s top 10 code violations.

“We have to change the socioeconomic status of the people that live in this community” and how they value their neighborhoods, Hesson said.

Hesson sees the group of more than 30 volunteers as a community liaison between residents and city enforcement. CBI has had two events in South Dallas and another in Bonton Farms.

Clean the Block Initiative’s next event is in early December.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Copyright 2021 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 and its associated economic fallout on marginalized communities.