1. The basics
Hi-Crest is bounded on the north by S.E. 29th, on the east by S.E. California, on the south by S.E. 37th and on the west by S. Kansas Ave.(City of Topeka)
The southeast Topeka neighborhood has about 5,680 residents. The area is bounded on the north by S.E. 29th, on the east by S.E. California, on the south by S.E. 37th and on the west by S. Kansas Ave. The portion west of Adams has faced significant challenges related to poverty, crime and home ownership rates. In some blocks, the poverty rate reaches 82 percent. In comparison, the city of Topeka’s poverty rates sits around 19 percent.
2. Neighborhood’s history
A sign at S.E. Adams and Golf Park Blvd. welcomes residents and visitors to the Hi-Crest neighborhood. (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)
Hi-Crest was developed for Forbes Field military personnel after World War II. The neighborhood began declining in the 1960s when military reductions were implemented. In 1966 a tornado wiped out swaths of Topeka. For the displaced, Hi-Crest was an economical option for home ownership and renting. The neighborhood continues to be sought out as an affordable option with high levels of rentership. The average residential property value in Hi-Crest’s western section is about $24,300.
3. NET Reach
NET Reach is based in the former Avondale East Elementary School in the heart of Hi-Crest West.(Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)
In 2013, NET Reach was established in the former Avondale East Elementary school in the heart of Hi-Crest West. The program is part of the Topeka Rescue Mission. NET Reach has facilitated leadership development and workforce training for adults in addition to a host of programming for youth. Every week it hosts Taco Tuesday where mentors and residents have time to connect. There’s also a prayer session, speakers and a small-group discussion on life skill goals.
4. ACE score
Tia Knatt and her son Markus Grimes, 8, socialize during a weekly Taco Tuesday at NET Reach in the Hi-Crest neighborhood.(Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)
Adults participating in NET Reach recently took the Adverse Childhood Experiences questionnaire. It measures 10 types of abuse, neglect and family dysfunction. An ACE score of three or more is considered high. The average score in Hi-Crest is seven. Higher scores correlate with an increased risk for chronic health problems. KU researchers are looking at ways to increase hope and resiliency to prevent the intergenerational transfer of high ACE scores.
The remnants of a memorial for Lily Coats-Nichols sits at S.E. Golf Park Blvd. and Fremont, near where the five-year-old was shot in July 2015. The homicide remains unsolved. (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)
During the summer of 2015, Hi-Crest experienced an outbreak of gun violence. Two people were killed including a five-year-old girl. There has been one homicide in the neighborhood this year. Data through Sept. 3 shows 23 violent crimes and 158 property crimes. The Topeka Police Department has one community officer assigned to the area.