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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Learn About Dallas' Jubilee Park In New KERA Series

Thorne Anderson
Ben Leal is CEO of Jubilee Park Community Center.

Going to school, finding a good job, opening a savings account, buying a home -- they're all parts of the American dream. But they might just be dreams for many in North Texas, where one in three can’t weather a financial storm that lasts 90 days.

This week, KERA launches a new series to examine these issues. One Crisis Away: Inside A Neighborhood will focus on Jubilee Park, a Dallas neighborhood sandwiched between Interstate 30 and Fair Park. (Explore the series here.
We kick off the series with a look at the neighborhood. Ben Leal is CEO of the Jubilee Park Community Center. He sat down with KERA’s Jeff Whittington to talk about Jubilee Park.

Interview Highlights: Ben Leal…

… On why the neighborhood is called Jubilee:

“St. Michael and All Angels was getting ready to celebrate their 50th anniversary,” Leal says. “So instead of building another chapel or adding on to their church, they actually wanted to give back to their community and back to their city. So they identified an area, a tired neighborhood in southeast Dallas, which is now called Jubilee Park since St. Michael’s was getting ready to celebrate their ‘jubilee.’”

… On what the neighborhood used to be like:

“Had you walked the streets of Jubilee 17 years ago you would’ve seen prostitutes walking the streets,” Leal says. “You would’ve seen dime bags and syringes littering the gutter. You would’ve seen gang members freely roaming the neighborhood and residents afraid to exit their home.”

Leal says there’s been a resurgence in Jubilee over the past 17 years.

“You’re seeing new construction coming into that neighborhood,” Leal says. “It’s definitely turning around.”

… On how the police have helped:

“We actually have a building on our campus called the Resource Center,” Leal says. “It houses a police storefront, code compliance and a community prosecutor. Since that building has been in place in our neighborhood, there’s been an increased presence of police in the neighborhood and we actually have 17 cameras spread out through the 62-block area that makes up Jubilee.”

“There’s been a 64 percent reduction of crime in Jubilee since 2007,” Leal says. “And I can’t say enough great things about [Dallas police] and their involvement and their partnership with us. They act as our Cub Scout leaders. They act as our chaperones for field trips. They’re actively involved in the neighborhood.”

Learn more

Explore the series: One Crisis Away: Inside A Neighborhood