UD center partners with groundbreaking collaboration in Wilmington's Eastside
1:33 p.m., Nov. 21, 2013--Despite some snow flurries and a fierce
wind, community members and stakeholders on Wilmington’s Eastside
gathered on Tuesday morning, Nov. 12, to witness the signing of the
memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing the Eastside Housing
This innovative partnership of several organizations will coordinate
their efforts to rehabilitate housing, promote homeownership, improve
public safety and expand employment opportunities in the portion of the
Eastside neighborhood between 4th and 11th streets and Church and Walnut
Wilmington’s Eastside is a participant in Blueprint Communities
Delaware, a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization planning program
launched jointly by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and the
University of Delaware’s Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS) in 2008.
To date the program has assisted 11 neighborhoods across the state to
help them develop comprehensive revitalization plans, and to implement
The Center for Community Research and Service is part of the School of Public Policy and Administration, which in turn is part of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences.
For five years now, the Blueprint program has supported efforts by
Eastside residents and community stakeholders to come together to
envision a new and better future for their neighborhood. “The signing of
this MOU is another very positive step forward in the revitalization of
this historic African American neighborhood,” says Bahira Trask, an
education professor who has been working closely with the Eastside
community through the Blueprint program.
Like the Eastside neighborhood, each community participating in the
Blueprint program has established a planning team that reflects the
composition of the community and its different stakeholders.
Teams include residents as well as local nonprofit leaders, bankers
and government officials. They receive training, technical assistance
and coaching services to help them understand the theory and practice of
community revitalization planning, how to establish goals and
objectives, and how to bring different parties together to fund and
implement improvement programs.
“What makes the Blueprint Communities Delaware program so successful
is that it uses the creativity, talents, resources and determination of
the community itself to make the community a better place,” says
Raheemah Jabbar-Bey, assistant professor of public policy and
She refers to this as an “asset-based approach” where distressed
communities are not viewed as just places with problems, but as places
with a variety of their own assets that can be used to solve problems.
The Rev. Terrance Keeling from Central Baptist Church and the Central
Baptist Community Development Corporation serves as co-chair of the
Eastside Blueprint planning team. At the signing event he noted that the
MOU not only launches a new collaboration, but it also “solidifies an
on-going collective community effort with the goal of building,
remodeling or refurbishing 125 homes as part of a five-phased plan.”
Another unique aspect to this collaboration, which is specified in
the MOU, is the goal that 30 percent of the people who will work on
rehabilitating the homes will be Eastside residents trained by local
labor unions. They will not only earn wages doing the work, but they
will have the opportunity to enhance their skills in the construction
trades for future living wage employment.
In addition to the Center for Community Research and Service and the
Eastside Blueprint Planning team, the other signatories of the MOU are
the Inter-Neighborhood Foundation, Habitat for Humanity New Castle
County, Central Baptist Community Development Corporation, Wilmington
Housing Partnership, Woodlawn Trustees Inc., American Baptist Churches
of Pennsylvania and Delaware, Delaware Community Reinvestment Action
Council Inc., and Stepping Stones Community Federal Credit Union. The
MOU was crafted with the generous pro-bono assistance of the Richards,
Layton and Finger law firm.
Since 2008, the Eastside Blueprint Team has been working hard to
solve problems that have limited the neighborhood’s growth and
prosperity. The signing of the MOU marked the beginning of the next
stage of the neighborhood’s efforts to revitalize itself physically,
economically and socially.
Trask described the Eastside team and the new collaborative as “a
transformative experience” when speaking at the MOU signing ceremony.
She went on to say that the Eastside Housing Developer’s
Collaborative has the potential “to be a national model to affect change
from the inside.” This “all hands-in” approach to community
revitalization is what sets the endeavor apart from other models and
To learn more about the Eastside Blueprint Team and their accomplishments, visit the Facebook page.
Originally published by UDaily