Checking in with the Neighbors

By Ty Olson

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Worker Center celebrated its second anniversary earlier this summer. Now, with two years behind it, we decided to engage the business community in the neighborhood with a brief survey, specifically inquiring as to how people view the hiring site’s presence in the area over these few years.

Two years ago, surrounding businesses in the neighborhood voiced concerns around the potential for a rise in crime, loitering, and other safety related issues in relation to the Center opening. These concerns, however, seem to have gradually dissipated over the past two years since the Center opened. Instead, there appeared to be a continuing trend in the opinions expressed in the comments and reflections of those who participated in the August survey. Both employees and business owners alike suggested that the Workers’ Center has developed a good reputation within the business community. Time and again, people expressed their appreciation with regard to the Center’s ability and desire to communicate and develop good relations within the neighborhood. Some businesses even alluded to having hired day laborers for small but physically intensive projects from time to time.

The only salient disturbance people vocally conveyed was in relation to the perpetual construction projects along MLK with the new streetcar being put in, and the street remodel of Couch and Burnside. Yet, the common attitude suggested that even this annoyance is good progress for the community.

In general, people feel like the neighborhood is progressing in a positive direction. People continuously mentioned that the area is feeling safer and becoming cleaner. Even new members of the business community expressed their excitement with regard to how the area is developing, and desired to develop a partnering relationship with the Worker’s Center.