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HUD Grant to UB Earmarked for Housing Initiative

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The University at Buffalo has received a nearly $360,000 grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for a housing program in Buffalo.

Deputy HUD Secretary Roy Bernardi delivered the check during a late morning ceremony Monday at UB's Center for Tomorrow. The grant is part of a HUD program that encourages colleges and universities in the nation to harness their intellectual and institutional resources to revitalize urban areas. Bernardi said it's all about helping people.

"They're going to do that with this grant," Bernardi said. "They're going to reach out and help individuals who need it the most in distressed neighborhoods. They're going to help those folks with housing and economic development, making sure everyone has an opportunity to thrive."

The director of UB's Center for Urban Studies, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., will oversee how the money is spent. He said plans call for the establishment of a community outreach office in the city's Fruitbelt neighborhood to create a physical presence. Taylor said UB will then work with a city school in the neighborhood, linking education with economic development.

"We believe firmly that the motivation of inner-city students to learn and achieve academic excellence will increase if they see a relationship between the things that they learn inside the classroom and their abilities to make changes in the neighborhoods in which they live," Taylor said.

Taylor said there will be a housing rehabilitation component along with an initiative to revitalize the Fillmore Avenue commercial district.

"We will be working with business owners to engage in projects that are designed to improve the physical environment, to bolster safety and security and to provide additional training and access to capital," Taylor said.

Taylor said he hopes the UB program will serve as a catalyst for others to become involved in neighborhood revitalization.