LETTER: Haiti Street residents want what everyone does: A safe, vibrant neighborhood – Fauquier Times

Sun and clouds mixed. High 76F. Winds light and variable..
Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 48F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: October 6, 2022 @ 4:24 am

In early August, gunfire ripped through the Haiti Street neighborhood. Two weeks later, another gunshot. In both cases, no one involved actually lived on Haiti Street. It’s a situation that’s not unusual – so many of the problems people associate with Haiti Street actually come from people living elsewhere.
Following the shooting, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity and local law enforcement met with 25-plus residents who wanted to be heard. Some residents shared stories of residents being terrorized, experiencing the feeling of being held hostage in their own home. Neighbors expressed concern about public intoxication, drug use and loitering. We heard parents saying they wouldn’t let their kids go outside. Neighbors want better for Haiti Street – and they are banding together to say “not in our neighborhood.”
 The advocacy efforts of the 25-plus residents of Haiti Street reflected what Fauquier Habitat for Humanity has witnessed since it began its neighborhood revitalization efforts in 2017. We’ve seen neighbors celebrating Haiti Street, participating in neighborhood meetings to identify ways to improve life on Haiti Street, and residents participating in leadership programming to become effective advocates for the community. 
Fundamentally, the overwhelming majority of residents on Haiti Street is fighting for the same thing: the ability to live in a safe and vibrant neighborhood where they can enjoy life, raise their families and experience the comforts of “home.”
Working with and supporting the residents of Haiti Street to promote and enhance the vibrancy and safety of their neighborhood is something everyone should be able to support. Haiti Street is part of the historic fabric of Old Town Warrenton, nestled between High Street, Eva Walker Park and Main Street. The Town of Warrenton highlighted the historic significance in its comprehensive plan:

Haiti (Street) has historically been an African American neighborhood, established between the years of 1897 and 1901. The development of the Haiti neighborhood represents an important broad pattern in American history. It illuminates a facet of the ethnic heritage of Black Americans in the years following the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. … The mountainous regions of Virginia, traditionally less dependent upon slave labor, accepted reconstructionist ideals earlier and more easily than did other areas of the South. Warrenton’s location, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, provided the urban center and social acceptance that made the development of a neighborhood like Haiti possible. The time period of the neighborhood also reflects the South’s transition from a tobacco and cotton-based economy to a more industrial, urban society. Haiti is the product of African Americans adapting to these changes.
At Fauquier Habitat for Humanity, we will continue our commitment of partnership with the residents of Haiti Street through our neighborhood revitalization work. We will provide a pathway to homeownership for 13 future partner families. We will continue to repair homes and build high-quality new construction. By working together, we can all support Haiti Street residents in creating the neighborhood they want and deserve.
Darryl Neher
CEO, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity
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