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Concentration of Social Service Facilities


We have a distressed neighborhood where we are trying to encourage revitalization and reinvestment, but are finding it difficult given the high concentration of social service facilities that have located there over the years. Most of the standards we have found to regulate such facilities deal with siting of new facilities, but do not address existing facilities. Is anyone aware of any communities that are trying to bring such areas back, and how they are dealing with the existing facilities?


It would seem to me that these social services should be part of the revitalization effort. What have you done to bring them on board?


Dear Leader
Staff member
I'd recommend making contact with the Allentown Neighborhood Association in Buffalo, New York. Allentown cointains the nation's largest historic district -- large brick and frame houses from the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of which are immaculately restored. The neighborhood started to gentrify in the late 1970s, and now is known for having a fairly vibrant business and entertainment district, and an eclectic, bohemian population -- lots of artists, young professionals, aging hippies, and GLBTs. (The closest Orlando equivalent, without the social service agencies, would probably be Thornton Park.)

Allentown's housing stock -- very large houses and mansions -- along with its progressive, open-minded population and proximity to downtown and the city's medical district, made it ground zero for social service agencies. The majority of the city's social service agencies, as well as group homes and halfway houses, are in Allentown. The Neighborhod Association is taking an active role in trying to slow down the flood of socal service agencies to the neighborhood, advocating zoning regulations that would require their dispersal throughout the city. I don't know what the Association is doing about agencies that settled in in the 1980s and 1990s, but you might want to contact them and find out.