Published May 22, 2014
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:
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:
“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.