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For the Press
The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) is an innovative resident-led planning and organizing community nonprofit dedicated to rebuilding the Dudley neighborhood of Boston as a vibrant Urban Village.
Home to more than 24,000 residents, Dudley is located in the Roxbury/North Dorchester area, bounded by Melnea Cass Boulevard, Massachusetts Avenue, Columbia Road, Washington St., Warren St., and Harrison Avenue.
DSNI’s mission is "To empower Dudley residents to organize, plan for, create and control a vibrant, diverse and high quality neighborhood in collaboration with community partners."
DSNI has over 3,000 members, including neighborhood residents (from youth to elders), businesses, nonprofit agencies and religious institutions. It is governed by a 34-member Board of Directors elected by the community. Reflecting its multicultural membership (primarily African American, Latino, Cape Verdean and White), DSNI conducts business in three languages: English, Spanish and Cape Verdean Creole.
When DSNI was conceived in 1984, nearly one-third of Dudley land lay vacant and scarred after years of disinvestment, arson and dumping. Since DSNI’s first community meetings in 1985, 600 of 1,300 vacant lots have been transformed into nearly 300 new homes, a Town Common, gardens, urban agriculture, parks and playgrounds; 300 housing units have been rehabbed. Business is growing. Rebuilding continues today.
- “What drives the remarkable scale of change here? Resident voices determine how their dream of an urban village unfolds. And at the center of this renaissance have been young people who, nurtured by adults who believe in them, have contributed guts, ambition and sincerity to building their community.”
—“Essential Partners,” report for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1999
- “Many scholars and housing activists view market forces and housing affordability as mutually antagonistic: Either a community remains affordable for its low-income residents, or it attracts capital investment, development and growth. If there is a way out of this fundamental contradiction, Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) has found it.”
—“Ten ‘Just-Right’ Urban Markets for Affordable Homeownership,” Fannie Mae Foundation, September 2000
- “Renay Peters is one of 3,300 reasons the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative is legendary among community organizing groups. During a membership meeting...Peters is on a roll, spelling out her ideas about what makes a good neighborhood business with about 150 neighborhood residents like herself...Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative is the rare community organizing group that can take credit for rebuilding a neighborhood.”
—City Limits, Sept/Oct 2000
- “‘Together we find the way.’ Nobody knows the way. ‘We ought to go this way. We ought to go that way.’ It’s a process...Together, we’ll find the way.”
—DSNI Board Member Paul Bothwell, citing African proverb, Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood, 1994
- “They tell us to sell the house. But we’re not gonna sell it, because if you sell the house, the problem’s gonna stay here. We want them to go away.”
—Jose Barros during 1987 campaign to close down illegal trash dumps
- “There was a sense that this was a long shot, but we might be able to actually do something. It was like a venture capital deal. You don’t hit a home run every time, you don’t expect to. You take a chance.”
—Riley Foundation Trustee Bob Holmes, Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood, 1994
- “For years, Dudley looked as if an earthquake had struck, leveling whole sections...The Dudley neighborhood still has many vacant lots, many people without jobs or sufficient income, many children being shortchanged by society. Yet every year, Dudley residents see more of their holistic vision of community development become reality...The people of Dudley are pathfinders, guided by a vision of the future in which no one is disposable.”
—Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood, 1994