HUD OFFERS NEXT ROUND OF PLANNING GRANTS TO HELP TRANSFORM COMMUNITIES

Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants to help communities revitalize distressed areas

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the availability of new funding to help local communities across the country to redevelop severely distressed public and HUD-assisted housing and transform surrounding neighborhoods. The funding announcement introduces an additional, innovative component to the Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant, called Planning and Action Grants.

Grants of up to $2 million will enable communities to create a locally driven plan to transform struggling neighborhoods, as well as implement early improvements, such as reclaiming vacant property and attracting new businesses.

“HUD’s mission of expanding opportunity extends beyond a family’s front door to the neighborhoods where they live,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro.   “These grants will let local leaders create homegrown plans to strengthen their neighborhoods and to take those first vital steps to turn their plans into reality.”

Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s signature place-based initiative in support of the President’s goal to build Ladders of Opportunity to the middle class. Choice Neighborhoods is focused on three core goals:

  • Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood.
  • People: Improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth with services and supports delivered directly to youth and their families.

 

  • Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.

Up to now, Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant funds could only be used to create a neighborhood Transformation Plan.  However, experience with the 63 previously awarded Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grantees has shown that tangible, early actions help sustain community energy, attract new resources, and build momentum to turn that plan into reality.

HUD’s FY15/16 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant funds build upon these lessons by introducing Planning and Action Grants. Under these grants, communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing will continue to develop a successful neighborhood transformation plan and build the support necessary for that plan to be successfully implemented. In addition, Planning and Action Grant funds will also enable activities including:

  • Reclaiming and recycling vacant property into community gardens, pocket parks, farmers markets, or land banking;
  • Beautification, place making, and community arts projects;
  • Homeowner and business façade improvement programs;
  • Neighborhood broadband/Wi-Fi;
  • Fresh food initiatives; and
  • Gap financing for economic development projects.

Through the Choice Neighborhoods planning process local governments, housing authorities, residents, nonprofits, tribal authorities, private developers, school districts, police departments, and other civic organizations create a common vision and develop effective strategies to revitalize their neighborhood. The resulting Transformation Plan and locally driven Action Activities lay the foundation for revitalizing the distressed public and/or assisted housing units, transforming the surrounding neighborhood, and promoting opportunities for families.

Today, Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grantees can be found across the country in cities and towns, such as Kansas City, Missouri, Norwalk, Connecticut, and Sacramento, California. Several Planning Grantees have already launched neighborhood improvements that provided the inspiration for Planning and Action Grants.  For example, in Salisbury, North Carolina, partners expanded a Mobile Fresh Farm to residents, spurring a nearby college to open a new culinary school that will provide mentoring to local students and sell surplus produce at discount prices. In Columbus, Ohio, partners created a gateway to the community by redeveloping a highway bridge and creating a mural wall with a history of the neighborhood.

Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant funds are available for public housing authorities, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and tribal entities. Applicants must submit a completed electronic application through www.grants.gov by February 9, 2016.  Read HUD’s funding notice.

About Sean Carpenter

Sean Carpenter is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Shamrock Development Associates, Inc., Government Deal Funding, LLC and all of its affiliated companies. Shamrock is a full scale development, consulting, public relations, corporate marketing, and asset/ property management firm. His knowledge of public programs has brought him to teaching opportunities to share his insight throughout the United States.