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Huntington One of 10 Winners in National Love Your Block Competition

Cities of Service has announced that Huntington is one of 10 U.S. cities that has won its Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block competition.

Love Your Block enables local governments to engage communities in neighborhood revitalization efforts benefiting low-income communities. The program will allow Huntington to hire two AmeriCorps VISTA members for two years to develop and implement a strategy for eliminating property blight in the West End of Huntington through home repairs, lot transformations and community clean-ups. Huntington will also receive $25,000 to be used for mini-grants and resources to support citizen groups’ and local nonprofits’ efforts to prevent or eliminate property blight.

This year's Love Your Block competition was specifically targeted to legacy cities – older, industrial cities that have faced substantial population loss. The winning cities were selected based on potential for impact and clarity of vision for their proposed projects. They are:

• Buffalo, New York
• Gary, Indiana
• Hamilton, Ohio
• Hartford, Connecticut
• Huntington, West Virginia
• Lancaster, Pennsylvania
• Milwaukee, Wisconsin
• Newark, New Jersey
• Richmond, Virginia
• South Bend, Indiana

"A recent study from the Urban Institute has shown us that the impact of Love Your Block goes beyond cleaning up neighborhoods and creating more park space," said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee. "It is also bringing neighbors together and strengthening communities. We are excited to help our cities revitalize neighborhoods, keep people in their homes, and build trust between cities and their people as part of these efforts."

The Urban Institute study found that the connection that Love Your Block forges between city leaders and citizens at the neighborhood level can be one of the most important catalysts for collective action by neighborhood residents. This connection between city officials and citizens boosts the social capital exercised by citizens who plan and implement Love Your Block projects and strengthens social cohesion. Love Your Block volunteers believe their efforts also positively influence public safety and community ownership of public spaces.

Since 2009, Cities of Service has helped dozens of cities implement Love Your Block. More than 10,000 volunteers have been engaged to remove over 480,000 pounds of trash, clean up nearly 600 lots, and create more than 180 art displays, in addition to numerous other community projects.

Using the Cities of Service Love Your Block blueprint, city leaders will engage citizen volunteers and local nonprofits in co-creating solutions to urban blight. Cities of Service will provide expert technical assistance to winning cities for two years. Cities of Service City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block is made possible with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

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