Blog Archives

Urban, Suburban, and Rural Contexts of School Districts and Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies: Rediscovering Equity in Education Policy and Urban Planning

This article revisits the debate about school reform and homeownership-based strategies for neighborhood revitalization. It is based on an analysis of school districts in New York State using data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Findings indicate that the relationship between schools and housing values varies across urban, suburban, and rural school districts. It is recommended that education reformers and urban planners advocate for states and the federal government to assume a more central role in the promotion of educational equity and the subsequent stabilization of neighborhoods in older core cities.

Neighborhoods of Opportunity: Developing an Operational Definition for Planning and Policy Implementation

This article synthesizes existing literature to examine the emerging concept of neighborhoods of opportunity and places it in the context of past efforts to define neighborhood opportunity. Place-based and people-based approaches to urban revitalization and community development are linked to this concept. The place-based approach focuses on promoting inner-city revitalization in order to create neighborhoods of opportunity and the people-based approach focuses on connecting people to opportunities that already exist in the regions where they live. These approaches are
examined in relation to how they influence emerging models for siting affordable housing in both distressed inner-cities and more opportunity rich suburbs that surround them. The article concludes with recommendations for a new tiered approach to place-based and people-based strategies for affordable housing siting in core city and regional contexts

Neighborhoods Matter: The Role of Universities in the School Reform Neighborhood Development Movement

Where you find distressed neighborhoods, you will also find poorly performing public schools. Yet many contemporary school reform efforts ignore neighborhood-level factors that undeniably impact school performance. The purpose of this study is to use a case study approach with social institutional and urban school reform regime frameworks to demonstrate why school reform and the re-creation and redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods should occur simultaneously. At the same time, researchers will examine the role of higher education in catalyzing partnerships with so-called anchor institutions for the explicit purposes of simultaneously improving neighborhoods and reforming schools. By focusing on a federal Choice neighborhood initiative, the study will not only make the case for connecting school reform and neighborhood development but also present a model that demonstrates how this can happen. The study will also make a strong case for the university’s unique role in fostering neo-collaborative structures fit to take on wicked problems of neighborhood distress and urban decline.

The University, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Civic Engagement: Toward Civic Engagement

This essay analyzes and syntheses key theories and concepts on neighborhood change from the literature on anchor institutions, university engagement, gentrification, neighborhood effects, Cold War, Black liberation studies, urban political economy, and city building. To deepen understanding of the Columbia University experience, we complemented the literature analysis with an examination of the New York Times and Amsterdam newspapers from 1950 to 1970. The study argues that higher education’s approach to neighborhood revitalization during the urban renewal age, as well as in the post-1990 period, produced undesirable results and failed to spawn either social transformation or build the neighborly community espoused by Lee Benson and Ira Harkavy. The essay explains the reasons why and concludes with a section on a more robust strategy higher education can pursue in the quest to bring about desirable change in the university neighborhood.

Are We Still Going Through the Empty Ritual of Participation? Inner-City Residents’ and Other Grassroots Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Public Input and Neighborhood Revitalization

This article revisits Arnstein’s “ladder of citizen participation” focusing on inner-city residents’ perceptions of public input in neighborhood revitalization projects. It draws from data collected in Buffalo, New York for a larger project that aimed to address negative externalities caused
by neighborhood change. Data were collected using focus groups in neighborhoods in the early stages of revitalization. Nine focus groups took place across three neighborhoods experiencing encroachment from hospitals and universities. Data analysis was guided by standpoint theory, which
focuses on amplifying the voices of groups traditionally disenfranchised from planning processes. The findings suggest that the shortcomings of public input identified by Arnstein a half century ago remain problematic. Residents continue to perceive limited access to urban planning processes
and believe outcomes do not prioritize their interests. This is particularly problematic in minority, working-class neighborhoods when institutionally driven development occurs. Recommendations emphasize enhancing planners’ fidelity to strategies that expand citizen control.

There goes our family friendly neighborhood: residents’ perceptions of institutionally driven inner-city revitalization in Buffalo

This article examines residents’ perceptions of inner-city revitalization in legacy cities. The analysis focuses on neighborhoods undergoing revitalization in a legacy city, Buffalo, NY. The article draws from data for a larger research project called Turning the Corner which was sponsored by the Urban Institute. The focus of that project was to identify planning strategies to address negative externalities caused by neighborhood change and heightened risks of displacement due to revitalization. Data were collected through a series of focus groups with residents and stakeholders
in working-class, minority neighborhoods which were identified as being in the early stages of revitalization. Two findings emerged from the analysis. First, residents perceived urban revitalization to have a destabilizing effect on traditional neighborhoods. Second, residents perceived revitalization as detrimental to the sustainability of family-friendly neighborhoods. Insights from the analysis are used to prompt planners’ advocacy for revitalization strategies aimed at protecting minority, working-class neighborhoods when institutionally driven revitalization occurs.

Building a Better Neighborhood Housing Partnership

Prior research has examined the role of intermediary organizations in affordable housing development and community-based housing organization (CBHO) capacity building. This article builds on this work by examining an applied research project aimed at assessing the feasibility of creating a neighborhood housing partnership (NHP) organization in Buffalo, New York.

The “Community as Classroom Initiative:” The Case of Futures Academy in Buffalo, NY

This paper examines the efforts of the UB Center for Urban Studies to build a university assisted community school centered neighborhood development initiative in the Fruit Belt, a distresses community in Buffalo, New York. The goal is to turn Futures Academy (School 37), a traditional Pre- K through 8th grade public school into a university-assisted community school that drives the neighborhood regeneration process in the Fruit Belt.