City of Good Neighbors

City of Good Neighbors.

"City of Good Neighbors": "A still from the film, of a cluster of refugee and immigrant-owned businesses along Grant Street on Buffalo's West Side.

Known as “the city of good neighbors,” Buffalo has a history of welcoming immigrant and migrant communities—from Europeans in the 1800s, to African Americans from the southern United States in the 1900s, to Latin American and Caribbean populations in the latter twentieth century. This history has evolved with the resettlement of more than 14,000 refugees since 2000. Resettled refugees bring cultural, spiritual, and intellectual diversity to Buffalo’s neighborhoods. Vital participants in community life and development, these new Americans shape education, healthcare, and food systems, as well as houses, recreation spaces, and storefronts.

Visions and Works


For Samina Raja and members of the Food Lab at UB, food systems planning is a pursuit of equity and social justice for the people who have long been disenfranchised by traditional planning—the poor, people of color, immigrants and refugees.

Since its independence from Britain in 1948, Burma has been embroiled in one of the longest-running civil wars in the world, mainly due to its complex ethno-political tensions that resulted in ongoing conflicts between its military government and ethnic minority groups. As a result, many refugees from Burma, members of the Karen ethnic group in particular, fled to refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, where these refugees have lingered for years before being granted resettlement to the United States in the early 2000s.

Urban planning students have developed a plan to help Erie County prepare for rapidly aging population.


Ghalia Ajouz and her classmates don’t see an abandoned silk mill on Buffalo’s East Side. They envision a rehabilitated building that serves as a vibrant temporary housing community for refugees who’ve been relocated to Buffalo.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has cited the University at Buffalo as a national best practice for its community outreach and development efforts in downtown Buffalo and its surrounding neighborhoods. Among the model programs highlighted by HUD were several planning efforts being led by the School of Architecture and Planning and its Center for Urban Studies, UB Regional Institute and Urban Design Project.


Until three years ago Juweria Dahir (BA ’15) knew no one in Buffalo other than her husband and his family. Now she is more deeply immersed in the workings of this city, and in the lives and fortunes of its people, than most native-born residents. 
Develop environments, products and systems for a wider range of people, especially those in underserved populations. One of the most important design movements of our era, inclusive design is based on the values of non-discrimination, social justice, equal opportunity, and personal empowerment.
Explore the links between planning and public health to strengthen urban agriculture, local and regional food systems and create healthier, more equitable, sustainable communities. Cultivate your sociological, anthropological, and environmental design research skills in planning as you prepare plans for community clients in local and global settings.