Neighborhood Outreach Connection is an organization that works to empower low income communities through education, healthcare, workforce development. We work within the neighborhoods themselves to re-envision the futures of individuals, families, and communities at large through after school programs, health clinics, English and literacy classes, and a host of other services.
Bluffton House has been bought recently by Aspen Square Management, located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. They have asked NOC to leave one apartment by August 31 and the other apartment by November 30, because of financial reasons (loss of revenue), since NOC uses these apartments as "supportive services units" and does not pay rent. We are now trying to negotiate with Aspen Square Management to arrive at a satisfactory solution. Failure to reach an agreement will mean that more 200 children will no longer be able to participate in pre-school learning and after school home work support and internet-based learning. Residents, mainly women, will no longer have access to English language training. Likewise, people in this low income neighborhood (with a population of over 1500 individuals) will not have access to free health screenings for hypertension, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, HIVAIDS, and workshops relating to dental hygiene and nutrition. NOC also partners with local church groups to sponsor social events throughout the year to foster community building. The impact of losing these services is significant and costly. Without these services, Aspen Square Management is simply housing poverty.
Owners of such apartment complex enjoy huge tax credits subsidized by tax payers money. The benefits of the services, such as those provided by NOC, outweigh the direct cost (estimated at $24,000) of the two apartment units. There is good economic rationale for Aspen Square Management to allow NOC to continue its vital programs to help people in need, especially children and women. The implications of this issue are, in fact, much broader than the Bluffton House, considering the number of such properties that exist in Beaufort County and across the State of South Carolina.