Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Fort Wayne, IN - Mayor Paul Helmke

Neighborhood Tire Program

Tires, though recyclable, are difficult for the average citizen to discard. In the past, it was common to see tires abandoned along curbs or alleyways in Fort Wayne. These abandoned tires became a concern for many neighborhood associations, especially in the central city. Discarded tires serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects, and rodents are attracted to the water that may be stored inside the tires. Humans are at obvious risk with insects and rodents living and breeding in their neighborhoods - neighborhoods that appear to be in decline with tires strewn about.

The Neighborhood Tire Program, which began in Fort Wayne in 1994, allows residents to actively participate in removing tires from the community while earning money for their neighborhoods. With the inception of the Program, all 227 neighborhood associations within the City have an outlet for the disposal of tires.

On one Saturday per month between April and October, each neighborhood may bring as many as 200 car tires to a designated drop-off site; each tire earns the neighborhood 50 cents. While a neighborhood may drop off more than 200 tires, it will not be reimbursed more than $100 per month. Neighborhoods with predominantly low- to moderate-income residents are paid with funds from the City's CDBG grant; other neighborhoods are paid with funds from the City's Solid Waste Department. For many neighborhood groups, the potential $600 per year to be earned through the Program represents their largest single source of revenue.

The Solid Waste District of Allen County, which contracts with licensed tire haulers to transport the tires to recycling facilities, provides trailers for the program. The City's Division of Community and Economic Development pays Community Corrections, the local work-release program at the Allen County jail, for a crew to load tires onto the trailers.

The Program is a direct result of Fort Wayne's Community-Oriented Government philosophy which puts citizens in direct contact with municipal employees, breaking down bureaucratic barriers to improve quality of life in the City's neighborhoods.

The success of the effort is reflected in the number of abandoned tires collected by neighborhood associations since the Program's start in 1994: nearly 31,000. Of these, about 90 percent have been brought in by associations in low- and moderate-income areas of the City - those eligible for CDBG funds. This is an indication that the Program is effective in helping to clean up areas of the City that have needed help the most, and that it is contributing directly to larger residential and brownfield redevelopment efforts in the same central city area.

Contact: Brian White, Community Development Project Administrator, (219) 427-2158

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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