Community cookouts are a new past-time in the old Ladner housing area. It used to be the tenants didn't mingle for fear of being shot or approached by drug dealers.
"That's the main thing, drugs, all kinds. You couldn't sit out on the porch, the shootins, the robberies, the breakin' in, takin' your air conditioner, it was rough," resident Terry Evans said.
"Anything you can really talk about or anything, they were doin' it, and they had the police out every night," resident Roberto Woulard said.
The investment company that bought the property last year was determined to change that. Winning the trust and confidence of the families who live here was the biggest obstacle the new property manager faced, so he moved in with them.
"They apparently had been told before that things were going to change, that people were going to work to effect that change, but as far as they were concerned it was lip service," Greg Alford said.
Creating a safe living environment took help from the tenants, the clergy and the sheriff's department. Friday's barbecue was a way to say thanks.
"We're recognizing the sheriff today in recognition of his department's outstanding community support and leadership."
Alford and the tenants say they are proud to take back their homes from criminals.
"To allow the law abiding citizens, regardless of what your economic level is, you deserve a safe place to raise your family and our goal was to actually create that for them."