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American Planning Association - Opportunity and Empowerment

The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award honors excellence in community planning that has led to measurable benefits in terms of increased economic development, employment, education, or housing choice and mobility for low- and moderate-income residents. The award stresses tangible results and recognizes the planning discipline as an important community resource. It emphasizes how creative housing, economic development, and private investments are used in, or in tandem with, a comprehensive community development plan.

American Planning Association - Opportunity and Empowerment


Wright-Dunbar Village Preservation and Redevelopment

Dayton, OH

The neighborhood in West Dayton, Ohio that nurtured the genius of the Wright Brothers and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar was once a thriving African-American community. In the past 50 years, however, highway construction, civil disturbances, insurance redlining and disinvestments have devastated the area. In 1992, the determination of two small groups of ordinary citizens - one black and one white - became the catalyst for the most aggressive urban revitalization effort to occur in Dayton's black community.

Despite the City's best efforts to persuade them to sell their property, 24 long-term residents said "no". Along with a group of aviation enthusiasts, who in 1988 had vowed to stand in front of bulldozers to stop the City from tearing down several historic structures, the minority homeowners initiated a chain of events that led to the creation of a new National Park and the revitalization of the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood. This unique undertaking coupled Dayton's aviation history with its African-American heritage to leverage over $75 million in economic and community development investments for a neighborhood that had suffered from racial segregation for decades.