Neutral Ground first established in 2013, has centered its services on prevention, intervention, and mediation for students, young people ages 14-24, and families residing in Santa Ana CA. In partnership with the Santa Ana Unified School District, Neutral Ground staff assist with facilitation and training of restorative practices while effectively helping to guide school/district staff in leading said efforts. Additionally, through our Summer Night Lights program, Neutral Ground has concentrated efforts to prevent violent crime while reclaiming the neighborhood for the families that live in it and providing a platform for transformation.
Since the start of the year Neutral Ground has faced a number of challenges, but none like the sudden programmatic shifts we have had to make since the onset and spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Communities across the state have experienced a steep uptick of unemployment and inturn have also seen an increase of domestic violence in the home. Fortunately many public and social service entities have been able to make changes to the ways in which services are delivered to ensure staff remain employed while still providing school support and youth development services. Still, our communities and the people we serve have not had these privileges.
Since March 2020 Santa Ana has seen a number of homicides, and Neutral Ground has not faltered in supporting now four families experiencing these significant losses. In the midst of the global pandemic that is COVID-19 and the loss of several young people we have worked with, Neutral Ground has had to make shifts to accommodate virtual learning and service delivery. Prevention, intervention and mediation efforts have seemingly doubled in that not only are we addressing issues and concerns stemming from our schools, but we are now and increasingly so, addressing issues tied to unemployment, community and domestic violence.
With regard to our transitional living/housing program, the loss of employment and resources to many of our participants has limited if not prevented altogether, their ability to pay their rent. Neutral Ground will always adamantly support second chances and we will do all we can to continue in that support, even with limited resources. Youth living in our transitional housing will not be evicted and we will again, do all that we can to continue holding a space for transformation.