Severely distressed neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Nashville and Newport News, Virginia, are among 10 communities HUD announced Tuesday will receive a share of $8 million in grants to fund affordable housing and economic development projects. Funded by HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, the grants will allow the neighborhoods to create comprehensive plans around three main goals: replacing distressed public housing with higher-quality mixed-income housing; improving educational outcomes and economic mobility; and incentivizing public and private investment in underserved neighborhoods. Four neighborhoods — in Dayton, Louisville, Phoenix and Shreveport — will receive additional funding to implement aspects of their plans.
“Today, we’re kick-starting the revitalization in 10 distressed neighborhoods across the country,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in a statement. “These grants will lay a firm foundation upon which we’ll build better, more thoughtful neighborhoods that are more connected to all the opportunities their communities have to offer.”
Phoenix plans to use the money to ensure that new transit-oriented development benefits the Edison-Eastlake neighborhood, where 73 percent of residents live in poverty and hundreds of units of public housing have mold and a design that isolates residents from the surrounding community. Shreveport previously received a Choice Neighborhoods grant in 2010, which enabled the city to create a plan for the Allendale/Ledbetter Heights/West Edge neighborhood. That vision includes restoring vacant land, preserving historic structures and attracting new investment. The city has already acquired over 150 vacant lots for use in neighborhood improvement and housing projects. The additional $1 million announced this week will allow it to continue working toward the goals.
These 10 neighborhoods join 63 others on the Choice Neighborhoods list, including ones in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.
Grants have been used to fund community arts projects, improve business facades, create new housing units, and provide neighborhood WiFi, among other projects. A Boston project saw the rehabilitation of a former meat factory into a food production facility near a 129-unit, low-income housing development. But as Katy Reckdahl detailed for Next City last year, the program’s lofty goals haven’t always been smoothly achieved, particularly in New Orleans, where the construction of a promised 2,314 housing units fell far behind schedule.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.