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HUD Awards First Choice Neighborhood Grants

by Houston Agent

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today that 17 communities will be the first recipients of Planning Grant funding through the Department’s new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. These communities will share a total of $4 million in Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants while six other communities are selected as finalists to compete for approximately $61 million in Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants (see attached lists and project summaries here).

Image by Tanya Constantine/Corbis

HUD’s new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CN) will promote a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. Building on the successes of HUD’s HOPE VI Program, Choice Neighborhoods will link housing improvements with a wider variety of public services including schools, public transit and employment opportunities.

“Today, we turn a new page in the way we tackle intergenerational poverty,” said Donovan, in a White House announcement with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “President Obama has said that there is no greater economic policy than one that invests in our children’s future and helps America out-educate the world. But that’s not possible if we leave a whole generation of children behind in our poorest neighborhoods. The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative expands on the bipartisan success of the HOPE VI program by recognizing that we must link affordable housing with a mix of incomes and uses with quality education, public transportation, good jobs and safe streets.”

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s interagency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative – a collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Justice, Treasury and Health and Human Services to support the ability of local leaders from the public and private sectors and attract the private investment needed to transform distressed neighborhoods into sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods with the affordable housing, safe streets and good schools every family needs.

HUD received 119 submissions for CN Planning Grants and 42 submissions from communities seeking CN Implementation Grants. Successful Planning Grant applicants demonstrated their intent to transform neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing while leveraging investments to create high-quality public schools, outstanding education and early learning programs, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs and well-functioning services. HUD focused on directing resources to address three core goals – housing, people and neighborhoods.

The 17 communities awarded CN Planning Grants will use the funding to build the capacity they need to get them ready to undertake a successful neighborhood transformation to create a choice neighborhood. These grants will enable these communities create a comprehensive “Transformation Plan,” or road map, to transforming distressed public and/or assisted housing within a distressed community. This Federal support provides a significant incentive for the local community to take critical steps to create viable neighborhood transformation.

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