Jenny Downy: "What's built this community are the people"

Ms. Jenny Downy is a beloved elder of the Homewood community, moving into the neighborhood in 1968. When she first moved in, much of the housing stock was in disrepair as a result of the city not enforcing its housing codes or providing services for those who were powerless - Jewish residents and then Black residents. As a means of creating their own power, Ms. Downy and a few neighbors working with the Willard-Homewood Organization created a Vacant Housing Task Force, which met out of her home. Volunteering, this group of residents worked to get the city to hold failing landlords accountable, to support job creation, and to make sure residents took advantage of the grant opportunities available, all with the goal of avoiding houses in Homewood being torn down. Ms. Downy is fiercely proud of her community saying "When people are negative about this place, it's your responsibility to teach them."

Check out this interview conducted by our youth to hear more about the pillars on Plymouth Avenue, her friendship with Nellie Stone Johnson, and her thoughts on historic preservation.