Photograph of rehabilitated two-story rowhouses on two corner lots.
Photograph of 17 people holding shovels as part of a groundbreaking ceremony.
Photograph of nine vacant rowhouses, most of them with boarded windows.
Photograph of three men installing a sidewalk.
Photograph of a two-story rowhouse under construction on a corner lot.
Photograph of three men working at a construction site of a house.
Photograph across a living area to a kitchen showing the open floor plan of a renovated house.
Photograph of a renovated three-story rowhouse.

 

Home >Case Studies >The University of Delaware Helps Revitalize the State’s Most Distressed Communities

 

The University of Delaware Helps Revitalize the State’s Most Distressed Communities

 

The Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS) at the University of Delaware has several programs to advance the social, economic, and environmental conditions of communities throughout the state. Operating out of offices on the university’s main campus in Newark as well as in downtown Wilmington, the center’s areas of focus include healthcare policy and community leadership development. Services in the latter focus area consist of technical assistance, consulting, and training to support community groups, nonprofits, and government entities in their community planning and revitalization efforts. As part of the center’s community leadership development work, CCRS operates the Delaware arm of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s (FHLBank Pittsburgh’s) Blueprint Communities® program, which provides capacity-building services to help community organizations develop and implement a revitalization plan. Wilmington’s Eastside neighborhood is one of the more active of the nine Delaware communities that have participated in the Blueprint Communities program. In 2013, the Eastside Blueprint Community helped establish Eastside Rising, a coalition of local organizations united behind the common goal of revitalization through housing, workforce, and business development.

Center for Community Research and Service

CCRS is housed in the School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. Its mission is to partner with community organizations and government entities to build local capacity to “promote healthy and vibrant communities” as well as to support research to improve community health outcomes. In addition to Blueprint Communities, CCRS’s capacity-building programs include Public Allies Delaware, which offers future community leaders experiential learning opportunities at local nonprofit organizations. Other CCRS services include a nonprofit management certificate course and a nonprofit resource library.

FHLBank Pittsburgh provides Blueprint Communities with the model and parameters for the program and provides funding to CCRS to manage the Delaware program. CCRS solicits applications from local Blueprint Community teams composed of 10 community stakeholders. During a two-year partnership, CCRS provides technical assistance and training in topics such as community leadership, conflict resolution, and project planning. CCRS also helps the local teams secure financial support to implement the plans.

Eastside Blueprint Community

To build upon the momentum of recent revitalization activity along the Wilmington riverfront, several community leaders came together in 2008 to form the Eastside Blueprint Community team. Eastside, a neighborhood of approximately 5,500 people situated between Brandywine Creek and the Christina River, has unstable housing conditions, with a rentership rate of 78 percent and a vacancy rate of 22 percent. The neighborhood is one of Wilmington’s four major crime hotspots and contains very little retail or commercial activity despite being adjacent to Wilmington’s central business district.

After receiving initial capacity-building training, the Eastside Blueprint Community team spent a major portion of its first year writing a revitalization plan. CCRS faculty and students along with local experts led eight training workshops on specific steps in the planning process and general skills for working together as a team. During this time, the team also engaged the community through a series of stakeholder meetings. The resulting strategic plan consists of four goals: engaging in neighborhood beautification, establishing a community resource and health center, enhancing public safety through a community safety program, and developing affordable housing.

In 2009, the Eastside team began implementing the plan. CCRS first helped the team create a strong organizational structure composed of a steering committee, working groups, and subcommittees and then identified additional stakeholders to work on specific projects. The center then provided technical support to carry out projects such as neighborhood cleanups, beautification efforts, and community events promoting public safety. In addition, the team renovated six homes in Eastside, three of which were sold to low- and moderate-income families.

Eastside Rising

As the implementation projects were successfully completed, the Eastside Blueprint team acknowledged that they needed to add stakeholders to take on more ambitious projects. In 2013, the team established Eastside Rising, a new coalition that brought additional housing developers, service providers, and community members together to engage in a coordinated revitalization effort. The original Eastside Blueprint strategic plan evolved into a new neighborhood investment plan that established goals for workforce development, housing stabilization, and economic empowerment. The plan calls for coalition members to build or rehabilitate 135 houses for homeownership, train and employ 150 community residents in skill-based jobs, and grow or attract 20 small businesses to create 50 new jobs for community residents.

Among Eastside Rising’s partners are developers Wilmington Housing Partnership (WHP), Habitat for Humanity® of New Castle County, and the Inter-Neighborhood Foundation, which have been active in the neighborhood for decades. As members of Eastside Rising, the developers are able to share expertise and coordinate their development with participating service providers. Since joining Eastside Rising in 2013, WHP has acquired 150 vacant properties that were placed in a land bank. WHP has built or rehabilitated houses on six of these properties that were sold to families earning between 50 and 120 percent of the area median income (AMI), and another seven houses are under construction. Habitat for Humanity has built four houses that were sold to families with incomes between 30 and 60 percent of AMI, and another nine are under construction.

In addition to Eastside Rising’s housing development, coalition member Central Baptist Community Development Corporation (CBCDC) operates a workforce training center, which in its first year served 300 people through job fairs, job training, and support services. CBCDC will also collaborate with the housing developers on future projects to generate new employment opportunities for training center participants. In 2016, CBCDC launched the Community Restoration Collaborative with the Inter-Neighborhood Foundation. Through this venture, the two organizations are considering renovating a historic church into two residential rental units, a commercial kitchen for local businesses, and programming space for the workforce training center. The organizations will also redevelop a vacant three-story property into a mixed-use building with three apartments and a café that will employ local residents.

Progress in Eastside

Eastside Rising is increasing the stability of the neighborhood by building more homes for homeownership and creating additional opportunities for employment. Steven Martin, executive director of WHP, hopes that market values for neighborhood homes will soon rise because of the coalition’s revitalization efforts. Martin also associates the new housing development in the neighborhood with a perceived reduction in crime. He has found that the redeveloped corner properties in particular discourage loitering on the street corners. With the Eastside Blueprint Community team’s success in becoming a self-sustaining organization, CCRS offers informal support to the team even though their two-year partnership in the Blue Communities program has ended. The center is currently exploring ways to sustain its involvement with Eastside and other Blueprint Communities beyond the initial two years on an as-needed basis. In 2016, CCRS began work with three new Blueprint Communities in Wilmington, continuing the trend of revitalization across the state.


 

Source:

University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Welcome.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Areas of Focus.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Blueprint Communities® Program.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. 2017. “Current and Recertified Blueprint Communities®.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware School of Public Policy and Administration. 2013. “UD center partners with groundbreaking collaboration in Wilmington’s Eastside,” news, 21 November. Accessed 28 September 2017; Rev. Dr. Terrence Keeling. 2017. “Beyond Workforce Development: Creative Funding Strategies for Impacting High Unemployment Communities,” 5, presentation at Creating a Just Economy, National Community Reinvestment Coalition annual conference. Accessed 28 September 2017; Wilmington Housing Partnership. n.d. “East Side Rising.” Accessed 28 September 2017.

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University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Welcome.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Our Mission and Values.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. 2017. “Nonprofit Management Certificate Course.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Nonprofit Capacity Building.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Apply to Become a Public Ally.” Accessed 28 September 2017.

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Source:

University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Blueprint Communities® Program.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Training Topics.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Blueprint Communities® Delaware,” 2. Accessed 28 September 2017; Interview with Roger Hesketh, director of community revitalization, University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service, 6 September 2017.

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Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. 2017. “Current and Recertified Blueprint Communities®.” Accessed 28 September 2017; U.S. Census Bureau. American Factfinder. 2015. “Census tracts 9, 29, New Castle County, Delaware: DP05: Demographic and Housing Estimates — 2015 ACS 5-Year Estimates.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Eastside Blueprint Community Team. n.d. “Eastside Blueprint Community Strategic Plan,” 2, 10, 22. Accessed 28 September 2017; U.S. Census Bureau. American Factfinder. 2015. “Census tracts 9, 29, New Castle County, Delaware: B25003: Tenure — 2015 ACS 5-Year Estimates.” Accessed 28 September 2017; U.S. Census Bureau. American Factfinder. 2015. “Census tracts 9, 29, New Castle County, Delaware: B25002: Occupancy Status — 2015 ACS 5-Year Estimates.” Accessed 28 September, 2017; City of Wilmington. 2016. “Downtown Development District Plan,” 3, 4. Accessed 6 October 2017; Wilmington Housing Partnership. n.d. “East Side Rising.” Accessed 28 September 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Roger Hesketh, director of community revitalization, University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service, 6 September 2017; Eastside Blueprint Community Team. n.d. “Eastside Blueprint Community Strategic Plan,” 3–7. Accessed 28 September 2017; Kelly April Tyrrell. 2013. “Blueprints for growth,” UDaily, 12 December. Accessed 11 October 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Roger Hesketh, director of community revitalization, University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service, 6 September 2017; Inter-Neighborhood Foundation. n.d. “About the Organization.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Eastside Wilmington Blueprint Community. n.d. “Posts.” Accessed 4 October 2017.

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Source:

University of Delaware School of Public Policy and Administration. 2013. “UD Center partners with groundbreaking collaboration in Wilmington’s Eastside,” news, 21 November. Accessed 28 September 2017; Wilmington Housing Partnership. n.d. “East Side Rising.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Interview with Steven Martin, executive director, Wilmington Housing Partnership, 25 September 2017; Rev. Dr. Terrence Keeling. 2017. “Beyond Workforce Development: Creative Funding Strategies for Impacting High Unemployment Communities,” 8, presentation at Creating a Just Economy, National Community Reinvestment Coalition annual conference. Accessed 28 September 2017; Interview with Roger Hesketh, director of community revitalization, University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service, 6 September 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Steven Martin, executive director, Wilmington Housing Partnership, 25 September 2017; Email correspondence from Martin Harrison, grant writer, Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County, 26 September 2017; Inter-Neighborhood Foundation. n.d. “About the Organization.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Wilmington Housing Partnership. n.d. “East Side Rising.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County. n.d. “About Us.” Accessed 11 October 2017.

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Inter-Neighborhood Foundation. 2017. “INF to Acquire & Renovate Historic Church on the City’s Eastside,” Community News, 20 June. Accessed 28 September 2017; Central Baptist Community Development Corporation. n.d. “Workforce Development.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Rev. Dr. Terrence Keeling. 2017. “Beyond Workforce Development: Creative Funding Strategies for Impacting High Unemployment Communities,” 9, 18, 25, presentation at Creating a Just Economy, National Community Reinvestment Coalition annual conference. Accessed 28 September 2017; Central Baptist Community Development Corporation. 2016. “Two Wilmington Non-Profits Launch New Business,” press release, 14 November. Accessed 4 October 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Steven Martin, 25 September 2017; Interview with Roger Hesketh, director of community revitalization, University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service, 6 September 2017; Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. 2017. “Current and Recertified Blueprint Communities®.” Accessed 28 September 2017; Central Baptist Community Development Corporation. n.d. “Workforce Development.” Accessed 28 September 2017; University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service. n.d. “Current Blueprint Communities.” Accessed 11 October 2017.

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