Nonprofit spearheads cleanup effort at Brannon Hill

Brannon Hill in Clarkston was once called “the worst neighborhood in America,” because of its burned down housing units, illegal drug use and crime.

However, a local nonprofit is trying to change the landscape of Brannon Hill and the surrounding community—figuratively and literally.  

Nonprofit Envision Atlanta hosted a community cleanup day in Clarkston April 13. The clean-up, known as Renew the City, is an annual event hosted by Envision Atlanta. Renew the City efforts started at Brannon Hill with volunteers picking up debris, trash and fixing damaged properties.

“We had volunteers come in all the way from Niagara Falls, New York. We sit down with [DeKalb County] and Keep DeKalb Beautiful and we ask, ‘What we can do to make this place better?’” said Pete Brokopp, site coordinator for Envision Atlanta.

Nonprofit Envision Atlanta hosted its third annual Renew the City community cleanup on April 13. Photos by Envision Atlanta.

Brokopp said hosting the annual event helps improve the organization’s relationship with Clarkston residents and refugees living at Brannon Hill.
Brokopp said volunteers collected approximately 600 bags of trash and filled six to eight dumpsters with bush trimmings during the day of service.

“We chose Brannon Hill because it was once called the worst community in America,” Brokopp said. “Keep DeKalb Beautiful was a great partner and they supplied a lot of tools for us to use. We trimmed the bushes because they [had become] so overgrown people would hide in them and do illegal activities.”

County officials have attempted to address blight issues at the condominium. In 2017, county workers demolished four buildings representing 68 units at Brannon Hill. The county also plans to demolish more buildings this year.

Envision Atlanta also provides a mobile thrift store for refugees as well as a literacy program that teaches Clarkston residents English.

Brokopp said the nonprofit strives to help Clarkston refugees assimilate in their new environment.

“There’s a lot of people doing relief. But relief work is not enough. We want to see these people integrate into society, get better jobs, get their own homes and be able to grow. We’re all about development,” Brokopp said.

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