The longtime residents of Lawncrest—a blue collar, working class area struggling to cope with an influx of crime and drugs over the past decade—are fighting to restore it to its former glory.

Read more at Philly.com.

At the heart of the problem lies the real estate market. Houses that go up for sale in the area are bought by landlords, many of whom manage their property from other states and offer it at reduced prices to anyone looking to rent. Captain Frank Palumbo, head of the Second Police District, says this is attractive to drug dealers searching for a place to store their wares.

“You couldn’t afford to have a drug-stash house in a neighborhood where real estate became too expensive. No one would rent you a house like that in a more popular, newer neighborhood,” he said. “Criminals look for an environment where it makes sense to do their business economically.”

The recent slayings in Lawncrest have spurred residents to recommit to the fight for positive change. “I’m not ready to give up the community and say, ‘Let the crooks take over,’” said Pastor Charles Dear of Crescentville Baptist Church. “I’m willing to do whatever I can to counteract that.”