Urban Revitalization Projects in Detroit
A vibrant and beautiful neighborhood is created when members of the community take action.
That is the underlying idea behind Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, a nonprofit organization in Detroit, working to breathe new life into blighted urban areas. What began as a project to restore All Saints Catholic Parish and turn it into All Saints Neighborhood Center, ended up as a much larger organization with a wide-reaching community impact. UNI is now a hub for development with programs spanning from blight reduction, community revitalization and programs for local residents.
Individuals who take part in our projects have a sense of pride in being able to see a difference in the community and sustaining those changes over time. This helps people understand how much power they have to make their neighborhood a beautiful and desirable place to live.
Christine Bell | Executive Director, UNI Detroit
Urban Forestry Youth Program
UNI works directly with residents to clear vacant lots where illegal dumping has occurred, in addition to any overgrown and neglected spaces.
Youth members and adult residents handle everything from project planning to maintenance after the project is complete. In some neighborhoods, the residents simply want an open space with clear sight-lines. In others, these lots become habitats for birds or are transformed into “people’s parks.”
The Lawndale Center has been a labor of love for UNI. “We’re hoping to have the building shell complete by the end of 2017, but my goal is to have the whole building completed,” Christine explains. Once the new center is complete, some of the community programs will move into this building, in addition to co-habitating with other neighborhood organizations.
The Southwest Urban Arts Mural Project is currently undertaking revitalizing walls in the DTE substation. Young community members working with UNI went through and engaged others in the neighborhood to see what they would like to be done to the area. The end result? Murals focusing on types of energy that will cover an area of about 500 square feet.
In addition to the above projects, UNI is also planning Community Beautification Day as the launch point for cleanup season. At multiple locations throughout the neighborhood, residents come together to clean up and transform neglected and overrun spaces.
Inspiring a Neighborhood
UNI involves and inspires community members to take action and an active role in their projects.
At the beginning of the year, the Curator of Parks and Public Spaces holds a public meeting with residents to discuss urban revitalization projects. Christine describes the meeting as an open forum, “Anyone can come and talk about what they want our focus areas to be.” Collectively as a group, they decide what lots or public spaces should be a priority.
In 2016, it was the entryway into the neighborhood. Almost every main artery is via viaduct, and most of the land on either side was neglected and in need of maintenance.
“We’ve been told by neighbors that our physical development projects have given them hope, and even encouraged them to invest in their properties,” Christine points out. “There are so many things in a neighborhood that you don’t have control over, like salting the streets. This program gives residents the power to change the community in a visually appealing way. It’s night and day when you look at some of these lots.”
Do you love your neighborhood?
The answer should be a resounding yes, especially if you have an organization that’s dedicated to revitalizing your community. Learn how you can help Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, and support their mission.
Budget Dumpster is your community-focused source for a dumpster rental in Detroit. This article is part of a series spotlighting organizations that are making a difference in the communities we serve. If you know of another great organization, let us know in the comments!