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Denver's Innovative Strategy to Give Public Housing Residents What They Want

Denver's Innovative Strategy to Give Public Housing Residents What They Want

If you can find a better process of community engagement for a city-sponsored housing initiative than the one undertaken by the Denver Housing Authority for Mariposa, I'd like to see it. Mariposa is the the new mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-rich community growing up on the site of the city's outdated South Lincoln Homes not far from downtown. (The other greatest examples of community involvement that I know - Melrose Commons in the South Bronx, Old North Saint Louis, and Boston's Dudley Street - have been not so much public projects as broader homegrown planning initiatives whose momentum has come from within the neighborhood.)

It has long been my view that inner-city revitalization - especially if done with inclusion and walkability - is inherently green, even if there is nothing more deliberately "environmental" about it. The research backs me up on that.  But Mariposa has plenty of green features, as I have written at some length in a previous article. And it has done an incredible job of connecting and collaborating with the community's residents, none of whom will be involuntarily displaced by the upgrade. 

Mariposa was recently honored by the federal EPA with a national award for smart growth achievement. Watch and hear some of the story directly from the locals in this video (produced in superb HD):

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

Kaid Benfield is special counsel for urban solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and author of several books on cities, smart growth and sprawl. All posts »

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