Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

HUD recognizes UB for downtown community outreach programs

buffalo

The Department of Housing and Urban Development cites UB 2020 and the plan to move the medical school downtown as key elements of the university's impact on neighborhoods around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Photo: Douglas Levere

Published June 3, 2014

“Our model has always been to work with the community in addressing their needs and wants. This starts with building trust, which can be easily attained through transparency and communication.”
Linwood Roberts
Office of Community Relations

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has cited UB as a national best practice for its community outreach efforts in neighborhoods around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC).

“UB is leading redevelopment efforts in distressed neighborhoods near downtown Buffalo, spurring the growth of the regional economy and building neighborhood and regional capacity,” notes an article that appears on HUD USER, an informational website for housing and community development researchers, academics, policymakers and the public published by HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research.

The article points to the UB 2020 initiative and the plan to move the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences downtown as the backbone for UB’s community impact, noting that UB is “lending its expertise to local government and empowering residents to shape their communities from the neighborhood to the regional level.”

The article also notes the work of UB’s Office of Community Relations to engage residents in two-way communication and provide information about UB’s programs and jobs that will be created by the university’s expansion downtown.

“Our model has always been to work with the community in addressing their needs and wants,” says Linwood Roberts, UB community relations director. “This starts with building trust, which can be easily attained through transparency and communication.”

The article cites UB programs that include:

  • A plan by UB and the city of Buffalo to create additional commercial and residential development in the neighborhoods surrounding the BNMC.
  • “Opening Economic Opportunity Around UB’s Growing Downtown Presence,” a report by the Economic Opportunity Panel, a group of faculty, residents, city officials and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for continual engagement and communication with the neighborhood and expand access to jobs and other business opportunities for residents.
  • A partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools to improve the quality of education, with UB graduate students and students from the Futures Academy participating in neighborhood projects to demonstrate the connection between public policy decisions and the future of the neighborhood.
  • The East Side Neighborhood Transformation Project, which helps create sustainable affordable housing and link inner city education to the development of the Fruit Belt neighborhood. The project led to creation of the CAO-UB Community Wellness and Neighborhood Development Center, which helps residents find information on jobs, health, education and training, and provides such services as tax-preparation assistance, financial and legal aid, youth programs and case management provided by certified social workers.
  • “Active, Committed, Conscientious Training (ACT) Empowerment,” a team-building, problem-solving, decision-making training program for business owners and residents; the 24 ACT graduates have since formed the Orchard Community Initiative to help residents, businesses and organizations address common issues in the Fruit Belt.
  • The Perry Choice Neighborhood redevelopment plan to study how best to transform a distressed neighborhood by integrating public housing into the neighborhood through an expanded street network and new parks, as well as a revitalized residential corridor.

The article notes that UB has worked actively with local governments to help plan and shape the direction of the city and the region, with the university’s influence being felt especially on the city’s plans for its downtown, waterfront and parks system, as well as work with the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council to administer individual government grants.

Additional assistance to local government includes the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development of Erie and Niagara counties, a consortium including UB and local nonprofit and public organizations to provide research and technical assistance to local governments on issues such as housing, transportation systems, economic development and food security, leading to better policy decisions.

The article makes clear that UB’s involvement downtown is a university-wide effort involving diverse programs including, in addition to the Office of Community Relations, the Center for Urban Studies, the School of Architecture and Planning, the Urban Design Project and the Regional Institute.

Also involved is UB’s Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Collaboration and Engagement, which focuses on pathways to education, training and employment, including:

  • Upward Bound, a federally funded program designed to increase the number of disadvantaged students with demonstrated potential to enroll in and graduate from college.
  • Liberty Partnerships Program, a state-funded program aimed at helping at-risk students stay in school by offering student services, including academic counseling and college application assistance.
  • Science and Technology Enrichment Program (STEP), a statewide initiative to encourage minority and economically disadvantaged students to pursue careers in medicine and other health-related professions and the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
  • The Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, another initiative that introduces students to the field of health care.
  • UB’s Educational Opportunity Center, which provides urban communities with tuition-free, innovative, academic programs leading to higher education, and vocational training leading to gainful employment.

“Moving forward, UB continues to serve Buffalo’s neighborhoods, the city at large and the region — not only by aligning the university’s expansion with the area’s development needs, but also by ensuring that residents have the ability to effect positive change,” the HUD article notes.