Date of Award


Document Type

Terminal Project

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)


Planning and Landscape Architecture


Poverty in the U.S. is an increasing problem. In light of the recent economic downturn, those who were poor prior, have gotten poorer and continue to live in communities where negative externalities affecting the health, safety and welfare of the area and residents therein, require immediate attention. Community improvement and neighborhood development is a major topic dealt with on a daily basis by all levels of government. More specifically, local government and planners see community development as a means to alleviate prevalent negative externalities in the communities where America’s most vulnerable citizens reside.

This specific research focuses on identifying low income urban community improvement strategies that have been tried and documented in the literature. Low income communities are the homes to some of the most vulnerable residents in our nation and can often become containment zones for poverty, crime, troubled youth, joblessness, poor living conditions and other social and economic disparities if not carefully addressed and improved (Shaw, 2007). Taking from a notion of holistic community improvement (Brisson & Roll, 2008), the research will explore how to empower the residents and have them be active participants and completely hands on from the visioning of the improvements to actually implementing the improvements (sweat equity). With the guidance of experts and technical assistance at the helm, the residents will be educated on comprehensive community improvement and responsible development (Dixon, 2010).