Boston DSNI – Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

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Country United States
City Boston (MA) – Roxbury and North Dorchester area
Name DSNI – Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
Date 1984
Description The DSNI’s mission is to empower Dudley Street residents to organize, plan, create and control a vibrant, diverse and high quality neighborhood, in collaboration with community partners.

The story of the DSNI starts in the 80’ thanks to the strong commitment of its residents, highly motivated to clean an abandon neighborhood full of garbage and recover vacant lots avoiding at the same time a process of gentrification: development without displacement. They launched a CLT that has made history in US.

DSNI dared to gather neighbors to create a comprehensive plan and a shared vision for a new, vibrant urban village. To fulfill the community mandate for development without displacement, DSNI gained eminent domain authority, purchased vacant land, and protected affordability and family stability through a community land trust. The once garbage-strewn vacant lots have been rebuilt with quality affordable houses, parks and playgrounds, gardens, community facilities, and new businesses. To offer affordable house to low-income residents is one of the main element around which the masterplan has been planned.

The DNSI is based on a tripartite model of governance and guided by a board where each local ethnic group is represented and has voice (African-American, Cape Verdean, Latino and White). Local churches are also involved, as well as youth, members of non-profit agencies, members of the Community Development Corporations and local businesses. The relation with the municipality and the public administration is strong but the DSNI keep its independence.

A crucial factor is the community empowerment, based on the idea that if community stakeholders, under the leadership of residents, are fully engaged, informed and equipped to act collectively to realize the community’s shared vision, then systems, policies, programs, institutions and the neighborhood will transform into the community’s vision.

Today the DSNI is composed by many different institutions and groups that work at an incredible number of projects, touching topic such as the youth education and the youth job engagement, family support, kids activities (it is recent the opening of a local school), urban agriculture, ecc..many courses are organized and they are held in Spanish, English and Creole.

Today the initiative is expanding out of the Dudley triangle, thanks to the Boston Promise Initiative, with which the Dudley Village Campus has been created. The aim is to favor the development of vibrant and thriving communities, strong and healthy families, children ready to succeed in school and successful students and schools, as well as postsecondary completion and career readiness.

The DSNI resulted in drastic changes to the Dudley Street neighborhood.  Before and after pictures can be viewed here.

Three lengthy interviews were conducted with three different staff at DSNI.  They can be accessed here.

DSNI is among the most “robust” case studies that likely exist in the United States due to its longevity, ambitions, success, scope, size, and the unprecedented nature of its receipt of the power of eminent domain by the City of Boston.

Urban Co-Governance Strong
Enabling State Strong
Pooling Strong
Experimentalism Strong
Tech Justice Weak
Project Website

References, sources, contact person(s) Website and in depth interviews.

Abraham, Yvonne.  2014. “Trust and Transformation in a Roxbury Neighborhood.” Boston Globe, July 24.  Accessed May 20, 2018.

DSNI’s facebook page: here.

DSNI’s Twitter: here.

Dwyer, Lee Allen.  2015. Mapping Impact: An Analysis of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative Land Trust.  MA Thesis in City Planning, MIT, available here.

Taylor, Elizabeth A.  1995. “The Dudey Street Neighborhood Initiative and the Power of Eminent Domain.”  Boston College Law Review. V. 36, n. 5 (September), 1061-1087.



boston dudley street

Project Details

Added: 8.06.18