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Choice Neighborhoods

HUD Releases “An Early Look at Choice Neighborhoods”

Collaborative, place-based planning for neighborhood revitalization in areas of concentrated poverty is certainly a common-sense idea with a lot of intuitive appeal. But what do the data say? The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is trying to examine just that with an ongoing, systemic evaluation of the Choice Neighborhoods program. Piloted in 2010, Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s piece of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a federal effort to implement integrative, cross-agency, place-based policy solutions for communities blighted by long-term concentrated poverty.
A new interim report, entitled An Early Look at Choice Neighborhoods, takes a qualitative and quantitative approach to monitoring the impacts of Choice Neighborhoods on five of the original implementation sites. The report includes a baseline measurement of community characteristics such as housing stock, demographics, poverty, unemployment, and violent crime in the five neighborhoods. This helpful baseline will be used to assess the impacts of Choice Neighborhoods.
The quality and thoroughness of the report is a promising sign for just how seriously HUD is taking the budding Choice Neighborhoods initiative. Ongoing monitoring will help to identify any problems at an early and hopefully minor stage. It also signals the interest in sustaining the impacts of the program long beyond the grant terms. Hopefully, the seriousness with which HUD and the Choice Neighborhood teams are treating the demonstration of impact is a sign of a sea change in community development policy; moving away from a quick-fix mentality informed by the latest ideology and toward holistic, long-term commitments better informed by the unique needs of neighborhoods.

Funding Opportunity: 2013 HUD Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Competition Announced

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the FY2013 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant competition. Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s “signature place-based initiative” and is a part of the interagency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). HUD plans to award approximately $109 million for the FY2013 competition, in the form of four grants of up to $30 million each. Eligible applicants are public housing authorities (PHAs), local governments, nonprofits, tribal entities and for-profit developers that apply jointly with a public entity.  Applications must present a plan to “revitalize a severely distressed public or HUD-assisted multifamily housing project located in a distressed neighborhood into a viable, mixed-income community.”  Applications are due September 10, 2013.

Choice Neighborhoods is about more than fixing up housing, though. The end goal is create sustainable, vibrant neighborhoods where children, adults, and families have the opportunity to thrive in integrative, supportive communities. NRI seeks to establish federal partnerships to foster place-based policies that are response to local needs and assets. A great deal of community partnership is required to meet these goals and examples of past grantees’ projects demonstrate the extensive community cooperation.

Ultimately, successful Choice Neighborhoods applicants must be able to demonstrate that their projects have created sustainable, accessible housing; high quality learning, employment, health, and other opportunities; and public-private investment in neighborhood amenities and public safety. Find out more about the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant program, application process, and available resources from the complete Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).

Funding Opportunity: HUD Releases NOFA for FY2013 Choice Neighborhoods Grant

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the 2013 Choice Neighborhoods grant. Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s signature element of the White House’s place-based Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). NRI “supports locally driven solutions for transforming distressed neighborhoods using place-based strategies to address the interconnected challenges of poor quality housing, inadequate schools, poor health, high crime and lack of capital.”

Choice Neighborhoods grants are meant “to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public housing or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.” Eligible applicants are public housing authorities (PHAs), local governments, nonprofits, tribal entities and for-profit developers in partnership with a public entity. The purpose behind Choice Neighborhoods is to bring together diverse community stakeholders-- local leaders, residents, PHAs, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers—to create locally driven strategies to help struggling neighborhoods.

The maximum grant amount is $500,000 and applications are due by May 28, 2013. Choice Neighborhoods grant-funded projects should help to revitalize the neighborhoods they serve and should be people- and community-focused. Additional project eligibility standards can be found in the full grant announcement.

Senate Hearing Highlights Choice Neighborhoods

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs recently hosted a hearing on Choice Neighborhoods. The event was focused on Sen. Robert Menendez's (D-N.J.) Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Act of 2011 (S. 624), which would officially authorize the program.

Witnesses included Dr.  Susan Popkin, director of the Program on Neighborhoods and Youth Development at the Urban Institute, and Maria Maio, executive director of the Jersey City Housing Authority. Most witnesses who testified discussed how linking housing with human services could aid distressed communities in a way siloed efforts have not. Popkin’s research findings “suggest that Choice Neighborhoods and other new comprehensive community redevelopment efforts that seek to improve the well-being of low-income residents in distressed neighborhoods need to provide services and support that will help address the complex challenges many of these families face in moving toward self-sufficiency.”

You can view a webcast of the hearing and read witness testimony on the Committee's website here.

Neighborhood Revitalization in the President’s Budget

With this month’s transition we haven’t had the opportunity to address President’s Obama’s FY 2013 budget, which was released on February 13th.

The budget proposes $100 million for Promise Neighborhoods, $150 million for Choice Neighborhoods, and $20 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program for the federal fiscal year that begins October 1, 2012.

According to the Administration’s release, “The Budget reflects an integrated and performance-driven approach to distressed urban neighborhoods, where the challenges tied to jobs, education, public safety, and other needs intersect and compound each other.”

Here are some relevant highlights from the release:

Promise Neighborhoods: The Budget includes $100 million of dedicated support for Promise Neighborhoods, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, which aims to improve college going rates by combining a rigorous K-12 education with a continuum of effective family and community services in an entire neighborhood. This initiative would support comprehensive programs that address the needs of children and youth in a targeted area from before they are born until they attend college.

Choice Neighborhoods: The Budget provides $150 million for the Choice Neighborhoods initiative to continue transformative investments in high-poverty neighborhoods where distressed HUD-assisted public and privately owned housing is located, a $30 million increase from 2012 enacted level. The Budget will reach 4 to 6 neighborhoods with grants that primarily fund the preservation, rehabilitation and transformation of HUD-assisted public and privately-owned multifamily housing, and will also engage local governments, nonprofits, and for-profit developers in partnerships to improve surrounding communities.

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program: The Budget provides $20 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which supports the Administration’s multi-agency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative by directing resources where they are needed in higher-risk neighborhoods, integrating public safety, housing services, and other investments.


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by Dr. Radut