City recruits volunteers to fight urban blight

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by Dan Neligh

azfamily.com

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 28 at 6:07 PM

The City of Phoenix's Neighborhood Services Department is calling for volunteers to help clean up graffiti and combat urban blight.

The Neighborhood Services Department created the "Blight Busters" program last year partly in response to budget cuts and staff reductions, according to Neighborhood Program Coordinator William Hogans. He also said that the program encouraged local participation in cleanup efforts, which promotes long-term neighborhood well-being.

"We found out that blighted places, without the aid of active neighborhood assistance, go into a decline," he said.

So far 47 people in two classes have been through the program, which includes three training sessions in which volunteers learn how to combat urban blight and use paint sprayers and other tools to help remove graffiti.

After completing the program, Hogans said that volunteers receive city identification cards and uniforms and are each delegated between one and five square miles of city to keep clean and monitor. Volunteers are asked to perform eight hours of community service every month.

Tim Boling, the Deputy Director of Phoenix's Neighborhood Services Department, emphasized the community benefit that he believes will come as a result of participation in the program.

"The more volunteers we have, the better communities we're going to have," Boling said.

Orientation for the next Blight Busters class will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the Neighborhood Services Department West Facility at 3325 W. Flower Street.

For more information on the program, visit http://phoenix.gov/NBHDPGMS/grafbust.html or call (602)-495-0323.

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