A Beacon of Hope in Low-Income, High-Crime Neighborhoods
Today, Community Renewal operates 10 Friendship Houses in five Shreveport-Bossier City neighborhoods:
Allendale: One of the city’s most distressed areas, with an abundance of crime and unemployment, Allendale was a neglected area where many families still lived in “shotgun houses” that had severely deteriorated. Two Friendship Houses opened here in 2002, having an immediate impact on the crime rate and the education levels of youth in the neighborhood. In 2006, the Friendship Houses also started serving as an anchor for the “Building on Higher Ground” housing initiative for Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans and other cities.
Barksdale Annex: Crime was so rampant in this Bossier City neighborhood that even taxi drivers refused to go into the neighborhood. The first Barksdale Annex Friendship House opened in 2003 – and taxi drivers returned a short time later. The second Friendship House opened in 2009. Today, civic groups, faith groups, businesses, and other groups work with the Friendship House to continue the renewal in the neighborhood.
Cedar Grove: Site of a drug-related shooting and subsequent riot that drew national headlines, this historic Shreveport neighborhood is also the site of the first Friendship Houses to be constructed for Community Renewal. These Houses opened in 1997 and 1998. Drug traffic was so intense on the street where the first Friendship House was built that the street was referred to as “crack alley.” Today, the crack houses are gone and children can be seen daily at the Friendship Houses, completing homework, building positive relationships and working on service projects to further improve their neighborhood. Cedar Grove was also the first home of the Adult Renewal Academy.
Highland: The first Friendship House opened in this Shreveport neighborhood in May of 1997. A transitional neighborhood with a growing crime problem, Highland posed its own unique challenges. The second Friendship House opened in 1998 and the community coordinators gradually brought some unity to a diverse population. More than 700 children and youth have now passed through the doors of the Highland Friendship Houses and many of them have returned to serve as volunteers. A new two-story house is now under construction in Highland to replace the first house, where students and staff have long needed more room.
Queensborough: The first Queensborough Friendship House was built with help from local professional golfer David Toms in 2006. During the construction phase, contractors and carpenters noted that residents began to show great interest and renewed hope in the neighborhood. In 2012, the second Queensborough Friendship House was built through the proceeds from the House of Hope campaign. The Friendship Houses have helped to reduce crime and unify residents while providing educational opportunities and service projects for neighborhood youth.
Testimonials from Friendship House Students
“The Friendship House is like a path of light surrounded by a river of darkness. I consider the Friendship House my second home. The Friendship House has brought me out of a shell and made me more active in my community.” – Ja’Marjay
“The Friendship House teaches kids to stay off drugs. It keeps us off the streets and helps us with our homework. And we have fun while doing it.” – Joseph
“The Friendship House is like a safe haven, somewhere I can learn about God, and do fun things, that I would have never done if I wouldn’t be in Youth Club. It is like a second home. I have a closer relationship with God and get along with people now. I really thank God for leading me on this path.” – Tanesalyn
“Attending Youth club has given me hope in my life. I don’t have a father in my home, and they have provided me a mentor who is like a real father to me. I feel good about myself now that I have someone to look up to and depend on.” – Tristan
A Community Renewal Friendship House is a beacon of hope in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods. Like a community center in a home, a Friendship House is a place for after-school education programs, character building, service projects, GED courses, tutoring, computer training, art and music lessons, family nights and much more.
The House is lived in by Community Coordinators and their families to become the catalysts for rebuilding safe and caring neighborhoods. They spend time with the neighbors, earning their trust. The relationships they form become a foundation for residents to set and achieve basic goals in the areas of community, education, leadership, housing, health, safety and meaningful work.