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Center for Urban Studies Receives $359,090 Grant

Goal is to develop university-assisted community development initiative

Release Date: December 19, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Center for Urban Studies in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning has received a three-year, $359,090 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund a comprehensive, university-assisted community development plan for two Buffalo neighborhoods in serious decline.

When the plan is complete, it will be considered for incorporation into the comprehensive plan for the City of Buffalo.

The UB grant is one of 13 Community Outreach Partnerships Center (COPC) Program new grants totaling $6.9 million awarded by HUD this year to help colleges and universities apply their human, intellectual and institutional resources to the challenge of revitalizing distressed communities.

The COPC Program also encourages structural changes within institutions, and in the way institutions relate to the neighborhood(s) with which they are working.

A central feature of this approach to neighborhood development will be initiation of a university-wide research program in partnership with the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy in the UB Law School.

Over the next three years, $18,000 in mini-grants ($12,000 from COPC, $6,000 in matching grants from the Baldy Center) will be made available to UB faculty members in various departments and disciplines. The goal of the grants is to stimulate research in urban education, neighborhood housing and community economic development that will lead to publications, grants and other projects in related areas.

The COPC project aims to join housing, educational, and economic development activities in an effort to resolve specific problems that hamper development in the Fruit Belt and Martin Luther King, Jr. neighborhoods, two of Buffalo's most unstable and distressed inner-city communities.

The project's principal investigator, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., Ph.D., director of the UB Center for Urban Studies, calls the grant "the outgrowth of five years of planning, research and the development of several demonstration projects in (those neighborhoods).

Congressman Thomas R. Reynolds (R-Clarence) and HUD Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi announced the grant at a news conference held today.

"I'm pleased to see the hard work of individuals like Professor Taylor being rewarded," said Reynolds. "It is this type of ingenuity and compassion that makes UB a great institution of higher learning, and something the entire Buffalo area can be proud of. I look forward to continuing to work with UB and all of its great leaders and professors to continue to create jobs and opportunities for the entire Western New York region."

Taylor and Sam Cole the 2001 award for Best Action Research Paper on Housing and Community Development from the Fannie Mae Foundation and Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning for a paper focusing on the Fruit Belt neighborhood.

Cole is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Architecture and Planning, and the Department of Geography, UB College of Arts and Sciences.

"The COPC grant will allow us to carry our neighborhood and community development project to the next level -- the development of a comprehensive university-assisted community initiative, the 'Neighborhood Transformation Community Outreach Partnership Center,'" Taylor said.

Through the center, UB proposes to partner with several non-profit and community-based organizations to accomplish specific redevelopment goals.

Taylor said the center will be located at 326 High Street in the Fruit Belt neighborhood and will serve as an administrative hub to coordinate planning and project operations during the grant cycle. It also will be the site of an action-oriented research unit directed by UB faculty.

Taylor added that the research unit "will illuminate some of the problems that hamper neighborhood redevelopment, and implement specific changes with the assistance of area schools, community-based organizations and neighborhood advocacy groups."

Among projects it will undertake are:

* Seminars for community-based organizations and neighborhood advocacy groups in the target areas

* Three highly-interactive programs to promote non-profit-driven housing rehabilitation and the promotion of neighborhood self-sufficiency

* Assistance to community groups already working on housing rehabilitation in the identification and improvement of properties.

* In-school art, architecture and literature projects related to neighborhood redevelopment

* Completion of the Fillmore Avenue Commercial Corridor Revitalization Plan that Taylor began in 2002, so that it, too, can be considered for implementation by the City of Buffalo.

Taylor says the grant will, at the same time, fund opportunities for student internships, research partnerships, and urban policy analysis.

He adds that says such comprehensive and neighborhood-focused approaches to community development "create a cumulative effect that slows down and eventually reverses the decline of neighborhoods like those in the target areas, both of which are critical to the revitalization of both the city and its African-American community."

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