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Choice Neighborhoods

Choice Neighborhoods Webinar

New from HUD:

On Wednesday, September 1 from 2:00-4:00 PM Eastern time, HUD will host a public webcast to review the Choice Neighborhoods Round 1 NOFA. It will be aired at the HUD Videos and Webcasts page. Questions can be submitted via email before and during the webcast to choiceneighborhoods@hud.gov. Presentation materials will be posted to this site shortly before the webcast begins.

News of this event was posted to our Choice Neighborhoods email list, which is open to anyone who is interested.

Update: Due to technical difficulties, this webcast will be available on the webcast archives page at 7:00 PM ET

Choice Neighborhoods NOFA Released

The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Choice Neighborhoods has been released today, August 25, and is available through the Choice Neighborhoods FY 2010 funding page. Please also hold Wednesday, September 1 from 2-4 pm EDT for a HUD webinar or phone call.

Anyone interested in applying may want to subscribe to our Choice Neighborhoods email list to receive FAQ updates and related information.

According to the press release, released this morning:

The $65 million Choice Neighborhoods pilot expands HOPE VI's redevelopment toolkit to allow for redevelopment of both public and other HUD-assisted housing properties. This means that the disinvested assisted housing that frustrated cities and housing authorities and fostered crime and blight can now be included in comprehensive neighborhood revitalization efforts. The program also widens the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers that submit joint applications with a public entity.

Applicants have until October 26, 2010 to apply for Choice Neighborhoods Planning or Implementation grants. It is anticipated that 12-15 Planning Grants will be made with a maximum award of $250,000 each.

Decisions on Implementation grant applications will be made through a two-round application process. Upon conclusion of its review in Round 1, HUD will select approximately 10 finalists and publish a Round 2 NOFA. Finalists will have the opportunity to submit a more detailed plan for community transformation. Approximately 2-4 implementation grants will then be awarded, at a maximum of $31 million each.

“This dual-round process was designed to better serve applicants,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing Programs Carol Galante. “By making our initial decisions on summaries, we hope to minimize applicants’ financial investments to develop deeper, more comprehensive transformation plans and concentrate on those proposals most poised to make substantive change in our nation’s most distressed communities.”

Choice Neighborhoods Mapping Tool

HUD has released a new mapping tool for Choice Neighborhoods. According to HUD:

This tool assists Choice Neighborhoods applicants to prepare data to submit with their grant application by allowing applicants to draw the exact location of their target neighborhood. The tool will then calculate the number of housing units, the average poverty rate, and the vacancy rate of the area drawn and send an email back to the applicant within 24 hours. The email will have an attachment containing the necessary data for the Choice Neighborhoods application, along with information HUD can use to confirm the intended program area. The applicant should then submit this document with their grant application as instructed in the NOFA. Visit the Neighborhood Mapping Tool.

Choice Neighborhoods: New Guidance on One-For-One Replacement and Housing Vouchers

In case you missed it (we did), the folks running the Choice Neighborhoods program published an update on July 16, 2010.

This new seven-page document reviews when and where vouchers may be used to fulfill the one-for-one housing replacement rule in the expected grant notice (called a NOFA in this case). It is unclear when the notice will be released. It seems very late to us, and we have already seen what being late did to Promise Neighborhoods applicants.

We expect to closely track the Choice Neighborhoods grant program, much as we did with Promise Neighborhoods. Anyone who would like to receive notices on FAQ updates, etc., may want to subscribe to our Choice Neighborhoods email list.

According to the latest document from HUD:

In markets where rents are low and vacancy rates are persistently high, vouchers support mobility for extremely low‐income families, allowing them to escape concentrated poverty and access better neighborhoods not often available with hard units such as public housing or multifamily assisted housing. In addition, most of these markets tend to have relatively low market rents making the voucher a much more cost‐efficient option than replacing hard units. This frees up capital for replacing hard units in the tighter housing markets. That noted, the Notice of Funding Availability for Choice Neighborhoods will encourage all applicants to replace as many of their demolished and disposed of units as possible with hard units, even if the exception request is approved.

Postscript: The folks running Choice Neighborhoods need to do a much better job on community outreach if they really want to reach out to Promise Neighborhoods applicants (i.e., our readership).  I think they earned "raspberries" from us for this a few weeks ago when we wrote about the pre-NOFA. We will continue to call them out on this until they start doing a better job. It's one of the things we do. (smile)

Choice Neighborhoods Email List

We are launching an email list devoted to tracking all things Choice Neighborhoods related during the upcoming grant period. (Can you say weekly FAQ updates? Of course you can!)

For a regular dose of Choice Neighborhoods goodness, send an email to me at plester(at)unca.org with "Choice Neighborhoods Email List" on the subject line.

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by Dr. Radut