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Kensington Renewal: Home ownership can lift one of city's roughest neighborhoods, says filmmaker

For years, the neighborhood around Kensington and Allegheny (K&A) has been pockmarked by drugs, vacant property, and homelessness. That has not deterred local filmmaker Jamie Moffett, who’s spearheading an effort to transform vacant properties into owner-occupied homes. Moffett is the pioneer behind Kensington Renewal, which is looking to raise enough money to begin its home ownership mission.

According to Moffett, Kensington Renewal has already identified its first property to resuscitate. "There's an 'abandominium' on Rand St we're ready to purchase & rehab," says Moffett with a glint of pride. This part of Rand St. is mere blocks away from Potter Street, where the producer spent seven years spent living and he currently owns an office across the street from. These blocks are the heart and soul of Kensington, just a short jaunt from the Allegheny El stop.

Kensington Renewal’s biggest priority is raising money to start its campaign of putting Kensington residents into houses. To do this, Moffett is actively seeking donations and selling t-shirts. Moffett calls this "crowdfunding" a house, and is actively using the Internet to raise money. He offers supporters the chance to donate using Helpers Unite and through PayPal on his own website. Also, the filmmaker has partnered with the arts non-profit Positive Space to generate money through film, photography, and gallery showings. 

Moffett is beyond passionate about the transformative effects home ownership could have on Kensington. "Home ownership correlates with crime statistics; the higher the home ownership, the lower the crime," he says, citing a University of Nebraska study. He explains that this is because homeowners are more financially and socially invested in maintaining their properties and neighborhoods.  

The filmmaker’s target market for home ownership is Kensington residents who’ve never previously owned a home. These are locals who Moffett believes have been victimized by slumlords, who let profit get in the way of maintaining rental properties. He’s also taking a stand against redlining, which has caused banks and mortgage companies to flee the area. Finally, he hopes to educate the Kensington citizenry about the responsibilities associated with home ownership. 

The mission to encourage home ownership in Kensington has received support from other community groups and government officials. Moffett commends the New Kensington CDC (NKCDC) and Impact Services for imparting information to the campaign. He also points out the district Councilwoman, Maria Quinones Sanchez, as well as the 24th District police and L&I have expressed support for Kensington Renewal.    

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Jamie Moffett, Kensington Renewal

Photo: Jamie Moffett
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