WILMINGTON, DE – March 18, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Thomas Carper and Congressman John Carney gave verbal pats on the back to dozens of neighborhood leaders today as they convened on the University of Delaware’s Wilmington campus to report on progress in revitalizing their communities.
The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of Pittsburgh, founder of the Blueprint Communities initiative and its co-sponsor, the University of Delaware’s Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS), declared the program “a major success” after its initial three-year run.
As a result of the considerable progress that Blueprint Communities have made, six communities inaugurated into the program in 2008 are being recertified. Blueprint recertification opens the door to additional in-kind and financial assistance as these communities continue to implement their revitalization plans.
The six Blueprint Communities formally recertified today are: Eastside, Wilmington; Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative; Hilltop/Little Italy, Wilmington; Historic Overlook Colony and Vicinity; Riverside, Wilmington; and Simonds Gardens, New Castle County.
“The Blueprint Communities partnership of bankers, foundations, the university and community groups provides the tools to make many of Delaware’s communities better,” said Senator Carper.
“Blueprint Communities is about the training and skill sets needed to improve communities and leveraging that capital to create something more. As our state and national economies continue to recover, we need to support more initiatives like Blueprint Communities, which puts decision-making back into the hands of local leaders and allows them to make the decisions that are best for their communities.”
“No one understands the needs of a community better than the local residents and business owners,” said Congressman Carney. “The strength of the Blueprint Communities program is that it provides the skills and resources that allow community leaders to develop their own vision of a strong, vibrant neighborhood. It’s a perfect example of how government can partner with local homeowners, businesses, and community leaders to create positive change. I’d like to thank the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and the UD Center for Community Research and Service for bringing this program to Delaware, and I look forward to working with these communities on innovative ideas to improve our state,” Carney said.
Since their initial selection, community teams have been extraordinarily busy. Thanks to training, technical support, and ongoing advice from CCRS, Blueprint Communities team members have sharpened their leadership, organizational development and strategic planning skills; prioritized key community goals; built consensus for neighborhood projects; and taken concrete steps in implementing them, working with local FHLBank financial co-op members in the process.
“We are very pleased with the commitment and accomplishments to date of Delaware’s Blueprint planning teams,” said Dr. Steven Peuquet, Director of CCRS. “Revitalizing communities is hard work, and it’s clear that the six teams being recertified are committed to leading sustained efforts to make their communities the best that they can be. The model for the Blueprint program is based on strong partnerships, partnerships within neighborhoods and across neighborhoods. We are pleased to help these partnerships grow and succeed.”
Success by the numbers
How well have Delaware’s Blueprint Communities done over the past three years?
- $27.4 million in community development activity has resulted from the initiative.
- FHLBank has committed $465,000 in affordable housing and small business lending funds to Blueprint Communities to date.
- The Jesse Ball DuPont Fund provided a $225,000 grant for follow-up technical assistance and training being conducted by the Center for Community Research and Service.
- $100,000 was committed by Delaware Community Investment Corporation which was used to seed initial projects in each community.
- 118 affordable housing units are being constructed or rehabbed.
- Ten infrastructure projects (sewer, water, streetscape and beautification) have begun.
Success in many packages
What has Blueprint Communities meant to neighborhoods? A partial list of successes includes:
- Eastside: Better housing through a Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant and the first steps in converting an old high school to a business incubator/community center/government offices
- Edgemoor: Creation of ERC Resource House, where service providers can meet face-to-face with residents to better understand their specific needs; summer camp and after-school programming for youth in grades K-12 in partnership with Edgemoor Community Center and Brandywine School District
- Hilltop/Little Italy: Nearly a dozen more businesses since Blueprint Communities began
- Historic Overlook Colony Vicinity: New landscaping and signage at the intersection of Commonwealth Boulevard and Philadelphia Pike with $350,000 in funding from DelDOT
- Riverside: $1 million in federal stimulus funds set aside by Wilmington Housing Authority for the demolition of 146 deteriorating public housing units during Phase One of a 400-unit demolition. Razing the site will clear the way for 368 units of new housing and a multipurpose community center.
- Simonds Gardens: The opening of an outdoor entertainment center and creation of a condemnation board that is razing and repairing properties
Beyond these projects, each community is experiencing greater collaboration among neighborhood stakeholders, a renewed sense of civic engagement, and access to a wider network of public and private resources.
“As these Blueprint Communities build on their achievements, they can look forward to additional training opportunities, capacity grants, greater access to technical assistance, prospective funding from public and private partners, and the ability to tap into FHLBank funds set aside for affordable housing and small business job creation,” announced John J. Bendel, the Bank’s director of Community Investment.
Partners and banks
In addition to the initiative’s primary sponsors (FHLBank Pittsburgh and the University of Delaware), Blueprint Communities program partners include: Delaware Community Foundation, Delaware Community Investment Corporation, Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, Delaware State Housing Authority, First State Community Action Agency, First State Community Loan Fund, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, State of Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination, United Way of Delaware, and Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia).
Members of the FHLBank financial institution cooperative participating on community teams include: Citicorp Trust Bank, ING Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., PNC Bank, Wilmington Savings Fund Society and Wilmington Trust Company.
“The Blueprint Communities initiative continues to inspire, inform and enable some truly engaged citizens across the First State,” said David Buches, FHLBank’s in-state community investment manager. “It’s a blueprint for change that’s working, even in today’s tough economy.”
Jennie Westbrook, U.S. Senator Thomas Carper: 202-224-2441, Jennie_westbrook (at) carper.senate (dot) gov
Albert Shields, Congressman John Carney: 302-428-1902, Albert.shields (at) mail.house (dot) gov
Dr. Steven Peuquet, Director, Center for Community Research and Service: 302-831-1689, speuquet (at) udel (dot) edu
Neil Cotiaux, FHLBank Pittsburgh: 412-335-9488, Neil.cotiaux (at) fhlb-pgh (dot) com