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community engagement

Through our 33 year history of investment, CBA has made a real difference in the City of Lowell by joining together two powerful elements that aren't always seen in tandem: community economic development and resident empowerment.

Over the years, CBA’ has been capable of wearing both the community organizer’s hat and the community developer’s hat thus harnessing the voice and energy of the community and delivering tangible results for the community it serves.

CBA was one of the first Community Development Corporations in the country to embrace a model of community-based economic development that places residents at the center of the development process. Our model starts from the premise that residents of all cultural and economic backgrounds should have an equal role in defining neighborhood problems, developing plans to solve these problems, and then implementing the changes. Frequently, conventional development activities fail to address pressing social and cultural needs at the neighborhood level because residents are not participants, let alone leaders of the revitalization process. Our model works because of the opportunity residents have to participate in our development process.

CBA’s Community Organizing Program provides leadership training and empowers residents to take hold of their futures and the future of their neighborhoods. CBA’s organizers also work closely with real estate development staff to ensure that these two crucial functions support each other and result in tangible outcomes. Some of these outcomes include:

  • Save the Acre Triangle – The Triangle Homeownership Project increased homeownership rates in the Triangle from 1% to 25%.
  • Save North Canal – In a battle which started in Lowell in 1983 and went all the way to the Middlesex Superior Court in 1987, CBA and North Canal tenants obtained ownership of North Canal, a then failed HUD Section 8 project, and renovated it as high quality, affordable housing for 267 families preserved in perpetuity.
  • Creating an Acre Youth Center – A site was obtained and youth worked with an architect to design the space; the YWCA opened the Acre Youth Center in 1995.
  • Cleanup of the Stoklosa Middle School Site – When the city announced its plans to construct a new middle school in the Acre Neighborhood, concerns arose because the school was to be built on a site contaminated with several toxic materials. After a two-year organizing effort, in November 2002, CBA and other neighborhood residents successfully negotiated a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the city of Lowell to remove all the contaminated soil at the site.