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Neuva Esperanza (New Hope),

is a community based organization in Holyoke, MA. The organization got its start fifteen years ago, as a result of public outcry over a rash of fires in the city. One of those fires killed five people, a tragedy which forced residents of Holyoke to overcome frustration and apathy. Today Nueva Esperanza is "first and foremost a housing developer," says executive director Carlos Vega. They own over thirty buildings (380 units) in South Holyoke, and are now ready to begin the renovation of 28 units, and the construction of eight townhouses in the nearby town of Churchill. In addition to housing development, Nueva Esperanza co-ordinates a wide range of programs including:

  • Health promotion /prevention programs including peer education groups (anti-smoking, and HIV- AIDS), an immunization program, and a family case management program.

  • Arco Iris/the Rainbow; an afterschool/summer program which stresses art education.

  • Youth Power program which received funding through Arco Iris after the construction of an alley park. This program "...helps young people understand planning and the effects it has on them and their neighborhood, as well as getting youth involved in community service work, as part of taking control of their neighborhood."

  • The Caribbean Colors Program which helps local businesses by making them more attractive and marketable.

Nueva Esperanza, like Nuestras Raices, with which it has close ties, is also planning to incorporate urban agriculture into its own economic programs. They are currently planning an Aquaculture project which would create a facility for the production and selling of fish. This project will support local enterprises and help other new businesses such as restaurants, and other fish farming enterprises.

The Aquaculture project is one example of Nueva Esperanza's efforts to encourage the growth of strong economy. In addition to the Aquaculture, and Caribbean Colors programs, Nueva Esperanza is also planning an indoor Mercado and a seasonal outdoor Mercado which will allow residents to sell products they have produced. Creative approaches like these are part of a strategy of being flexible and meeting the needs of their community by building on its own internal resources. In the words of Carlos Vega,

"...we have a vision of looking at our community and the residents as working together in development. Housing, community education, and economic development are all one strategy in building healthy farnilies and healthy communities..."

For more information, contact:
Nueva Esperanza, Inc., c/o Carlos Vega
401 Main St.
Holyoke, MA 01040


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