SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - As a kid, Liam Kirst went to Syracuse city schools. Many of his classmates knew the feeling of walking past old and vacant homes that have increasingly become eyesores for many neighborhoods.
So when Liam and his friend Logan Riedsma, both Community Outreach Coordinators for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, came up with the idea to spruce up some of the city's vacant homes, they first reached out to the kids who would be walking past them each day.
"It's giving neighbors- and people from the city and the suburbs- a sense of empowerment," Kirst said of a new program where the land bank is working with Syracuse schools and community members to paint wooden boards on Land Bank homes.
Since the program began this spring, volunteers have finished more than 200 boards for the houses.
"I think it's giving houses that haven't really had purpose for sometime, it's giving purpose back to that property," Kirst said.
It's giving purpose back to the neighborhoods, too. Calvin Jones lives nearby a property on the corner of Midland Ave. and Newell St.
"When people drive by here, their first impression is trouble," Jones said. "They try to get out of the neighborhood as fast as they can. Now, when they see these pictures on these land bank houses, that makes them slow down and gives them a different insight on what the neighborhood feels like."
Liam knows this program won't fix Syracuse's larger housing issues, but he says it's where the city starts. Board by board. Home by home.
"I think what this project shows is that when the community comes together, with people of all ages, something as small as painting on a board can make a difference."
The Land Bank will be hosting a public painting session for the boards on Saturday, July 15th, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the South Presbyterian Church on South Salina St. in Syracuse.
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