The 13,000 renters in the Near South and Everett neighborhoods are surrounded by other renters -- renters next door, renters upstairs, renters below.
But it can be tough for them to feel like they're part of a bigger community.
They might not know their neighbors. They might not know what services are available nearby.
“They're often identified as more transient, or not as connected,” said Chelsea Egenberger. “We know in Lincoln there's not a whole lot of resources targeted at renters.”
So Egenberger and others are hosting an event May 6 to try to gather those living in the two neighborhoods -- and anybody else who wants to come -- a little closer together. They hope free food, information tables, music and mingling will show renters and other residents they're all in this together.
“We're in a vulnerable time. People are finding it harder and harder to connect to their neighbors, or to find common ground. We all share the same space, a geographical space, but we also share a lot of the same values and concerns,” she said.
“The more we know where people come from and what our common interests are, the stronger our neighborhoods can be.”
The Residents Together Resource Fair started to take shape in October, when Egenberger and five other neighborhood organizers from Lincoln were selected to attend NeighborWorks America's annual training in Columbus, Ohio, where they went through community leadership exercises and met other organizers from across the country.
“There was a lot of really great discussion and really great brainstorming and connecting,” she said.
They returned with a $2,000 budget and an assignment -- organize a community project. Last year, Lincoln’s participants launched Neighbor Powered Networks and hosted a block party; past groups came home and started the University Place Community Market and the Lincoln Biketacular.
Egenberger's group decided to focus on building connections in the Near South and Everett areas, where more than 90 percent of residents are renters.
They enlisted the help of NeighborWorks Lincoln, South of Downtown Community Development Organization and We Are Vital LNK to stage the four-hour event at the F Street Recreation Center.
They want those in the neighborhoods to get to know each other, and they want them to see the help and activities that are available.
They also want it to be accessible. Free, family-friendly, open to everyone.
“If they just want to come and enjoy the music, great,” Egenberger said. “If they want to come and talk to the people at the resource tables, great.”
They use the term resource broadly. It means learning more about the services provided by the Gathering Place or Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, or meeting the woman down the street who keeps an eye on the neighborhood, or getting the phone number for Community Action Partnership, which can answer questions about landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities.
"We’re hoping that this will be a launching pad for more people to become aware of what exists in the community. People think of the Near South and Everett, and they think it's a high-crime area. We are so much more than that.”