Peer pressure: Stevens Square tries to establish behavior standards

Since October, the Stevens Square-Loring Heights neighborhood association has circulated a survey asking local residents how people should behave.

Volunteers have door-knocked 42 apartment buildings, asking two questions: what positive behaviors should neighborhood residents, businesses and property owners encourage; and which behaviors should be discouraged?

The survey is offered in English, Spanish and Somali. It will be distributed until Saturday, Jan. 31, when the results will be tabulated.

Julie Filapek, executive director of the Stevens Square Neighborhood Organization (SSCO) said the survey results would enrich the area by developing and adopting community behavior guidelines.

"The intent is to find out how people feel about the neighborhood, what they like and what they find annoying," Filapek said. "We hope to find some common threads to provide a collective ideal about what constitutes acceptable behavior and what does not."

The inner-city neighborhood’s residents have a $21,000 median income and 25 percent live below the poverty line. Stevens Square’s racial make-up is over 60 percent white, 18 percent black and 12 percent Latino, with a small Asian population.

SSCO Safety Coordinator Dave Delvoye said that neighborhood safety issues include prostitution, alcohol use, street drug dealing and its attendant problems — public urination and disorderly conduct.

"Its not a set of rules that someone is going to enforce. It’s more about establishing an understanding and using peer pressure to make the community a better place to live," Delvoye said.

The survey results will be published in the SSCO neighborhood newsletter this spring and will be posted in area businesses, buildings and institutions.