Organizational Capacity Building

Candace LaRue and Associates

#nei2012 Dudley Street Initiative

on June 9, 2012

Tony Hernandez from Dudley Street Initiative, president of Land Trust Board

Jason Welb

Mission: empower Dudley resident to organize, plan for, create and control a vibrant, diverse high quality neighborhood in collaboration with community partners.

Clip from documentary called Holding Ground.

Images of garbage, trash, vacant lots. Houses were being abandoned, and being burned down for insurance money, leading to more vacant lots. The Riley Foundation worked as a small foundation to focus funding on the Roxbury area in Boston, but the original meeting did not have enough input from residents. In a series of meetings, the governance structure was redone to include a majority of residents. Seats were allotted by ethnic group and also to local agencies and housing. Some short campaigns were organized in order to gain quick returns. Vacant lots came up over and over, including issues of garbage dumping. It was difficult to get all the groups involved. Radio shows in other languages were used to mobilize. One month after pledging to clean up the lots, the city provided equipment to clean the lots. There were also demonstrations to keep companies from illegally dumping their garbage. Those successes were a signal of hope. Boston Redevelopment Authority had a concept plan for redevelopment, and there were fears that poor people would be pushed out in order to make way for gentrification. There was a push to include residents in the planning process at the city level. Residents wanted to improve the neighborhood on their own terms, so they hired urban planners who would listen to residents. Eventually the city adopted the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative plan. They also worked to improve other opportunities, including involvement of youth. Young people need to be cultivated. New housing was built on the site of vacant lots, encouraging people to move back home and buy homes. the project succeeds because of the confidence that was built in community members.


It is an every day challenge to continue to build confidence among residents. There was deinvesting and red lining in the community leading to about 20% of sites vacant, along with many brownfields.

There is a real fear of gentrification, being very close to down town. There is a site called the “Dudley Triangle” of 60 acres, 50% Of which is vacant.


The grand vision is a vibrant urban village. Part of this is a strong belief in involving youth as active participants in their community.

There are many processes for collective decision-making within a diverse community. One technique is using sticky notes for visioning, with the goal of consensus.

Two dual goals came up in surveys of quality affordable housing and open space. This led to the creation of Dudley Neighbors, Inc. Community Land Trust.


The community land trust was developed so that DNI could stay separate from the land development. Now, 30 acres are held in trust with a goal of development without displacement. Principals:

Community control over land use
Development without displacement
Permanent housing affordability
Community and family stability
Community and family wealth creation

DNI was able to use powers such as Eminent Domain as a stick to bring owners to the table. The main focus is protection of the land to generate family and community assets. The land is leased to home owners who own the housing, and they are able to get a low mortgage payment. DNI works to connect home owners with opportunities throughout the community. They have also been able to up the requirements for employing residents, people of color, and women in procurement. DSNI has a Board of Directors that is elected ever 2 years, and it has control over the Community Land Trust.


Presented a virtual tour of the neighborhood using SketchUp, demonstrating what has been built through DSNI.


Now, this was inspiring! Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative rocks!


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