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Donahue Institute supports Springfield re-development efforts

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the City of Springfield a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant. Choice Neighborhoods links housing improvements with a wider variety of public services including schools, public transit and employment opportunities. The grant was one of only 13 awarded nationwide from a pool of 71 applicants.

As part of a team organized by the city, the UMass Donahue Institute will develop a plan for measuring individual outcomes and neighborhood wellbeing associated with a neighborhood improvement program targeting Springfield’s South End. Through the grant, the city hopes to revitalize the Marble Street Apartments, a distressed public housing complex, in addition to two HUD-assisted multifamily projects, Concord Heights and Hollywood Apartments. The 18-month planning process could potentially bring in millions of dollars in public and private funds.

Known as Springfield’s Little Italy, the South End was once a bustling commercial and residential enclave. The neighborhood’s struggles mirror those of the region, where the manufacturing jobs that once buoyed the economy have largely disappeared. Forty-two percent of the South End’s residents are below the poverty line. Economic challenges were further aggravated by last June’s tornado, which destroyed key neighborhood assets, including the South End Community Center and the South End's only high-quality early childhood education center.

The planning grant continues the Institute’s successful track record of working with Springfield on projects for city government, district schools and community-based organizations.

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UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts Amherst

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