U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant
The Choice Neighborhoods program supports locally driven strategies that address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Local leaders, residents, and stakeholders, such as public housing authorities, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers, come together to create and implement a plan that revitalizes distressed HUD housing and addresses the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. The program helps communities transform neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing and catalyzing critical improvements in the neighborhood, including vacant property, housing, businesses, services and schools. Choice Neighborhoods is focused on three core goals:
- Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed income housing that is responsive to the needs of the neighborhood
- People: Improve outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education
- 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
To achieve these core goals, applicants must have in place a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy, or “Transformation Plan.” This Transformation Plan is the guiding document for the revitalization of the public and/or assisted housing units, while simultaneously directing the transformation of the neighborhood. To successfully develop and implement the Transformation Plan, broad civic engagement is needed. Applicants need to work with public and private agencies, organizations (including philanthropic and civic organizations), and individuals – including local leaders, residents, and stakeholders, such as public housing authorities, cities, tribes, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers – to leverage the resources needed to support the plan. Efforts should build community support for and involvement in the development and implementation of the plan.
Objectives and metrics to measure long-term success are:
1. Housing objectives: Housing transformed with the assistance of Choice Neighborhoods should be:
- Well-managed and financially viable: Developments that have budgeted appropriately for the rental income that can be generated from the project and meet or exceed industry standards for quality management and maintenance of the property
- Mixed-income: Housing affordable to families and individuals with a broad range of incomes including low-income, moderate-income, and market rate or unrestricted
- Energy efficient, sustainable, accessible, healthy, and free from discrimination: Housing that is well-designed, embraces not only the requirements of accessible design but also concepts of visitability and universal design, has low per unit energy and water consumption and healthy indoor air quality, is built to be resistant to local disaster risk, has affordable broadband Internet access, and is free from all types of discrimination
2. People objectives: People that live in the neighborhood, with a primary focus on residents of the housing targeted for revitalization, benefit from:
- Effective education: A high level of resident access to high-quality early learning programs and services so children enter kindergarten ready to learn and significant growth in existing individual resident educational outcomes over time relative to the state average
- Employment opportunities: The income of residents of the target housing development, particularly wage income for non-elderly/non-disabled adult residents, increases over time
- Quality health care: Residents have increased access to health services and have improved health over time
- Housing, location, quality, and affordability: Residents who, by their own choice, do not return to the development and who have housing and neighborhood opportunities as good as or better than the opportunities available to those who occupy the redeveloped site
3. Neighborhood objectives: Through investments catalyzed by Choice Neighborhoods, the neighborhood enjoys improved:
- Private and public investment in the neighborhood: The neighboring housing has a very low vacancy/abandonment rate, the housing inventory is of high quality, and the neighborhood is mixed income and maintains a mixture of incomes over time.
- Amenities: The distance traveled from the neighborhood to basic services is equal to or less than the distance traveled from the median neighborhood in the metropolitan area.
- Effective public schools: Public schools in the target neighborhood are safe and welcoming places for children and their families. In addition, schools have test scores that are as good as or better than the state average or are implementing school reforms that raise student achievement over time and graduate students from high school prepared for college and a career.
- Safety: Residents are living in a safer environment as evidenced by the revitalized neighborhood having significantly lower crime rates than the neighborhood had prior to redevelopment and maintaining a lower crime rate over time.
Amount: A total of $145,000,000 is available to make approximately five awards. At least $75,000,000 must be awarded to applications in which a public housing authority is the lead applicant or co-applicant. Grants range up to $30,000,000 per budget period. The duration is for six years. Matching funds in the amount of at least five percent of the requested grant amount in cash or in-kind donations must be secured and used by the end of the grant term.
Eligibility: The lead applicant must be a Public Housing Agency (PHA), a local government, or a tribal entity. If there is also a co-applicant, it must be a PHA, a local government, a tribal entity, or the owner of the target HUD-assisted housing (e.g., a nonprofit or for-profit developer). The local government of jurisdiction or tribe for applications that target Indian Housing, must be the lead applicant or co-applicant.
Applicants must also demonstrate that the proposal targets an eligible housing project and is located in an eligible neighborhood, as detailed below:
1. Eligible target housing: Applicants must focus on the revitalization of at least one severely distressed public and/or assisted housing project. Severely distressed housing is defined as:
A. Public and/or assisted housing project (or building in a project) that:
- Requires major redesign, reconstruction, or redevelopment, or partial or total demolition, to correct serious deficiencies in the original design (including inappropriately high population density), deferred maintenance, physical deterioration or obsolescence of major systems, and other deficiencies in the physical plan of the project.
- Is a significant contributing factor to the physical decline of, and disinvestment by public and private entities in, the surrounding neighborhood.
- Is: (i) occupied predominantly by families who are very low-income families with children, have unemployed members, and are dependent on various forms of public assistance; (ii) has high rates of vandalism and criminal activity (including drug-related criminal activity) in comparison to other housing in the area; or (iii) is lacking in sufficient appropriate transportation, supportive services, economic opportunity, schools, civic and religious institutions, and public services, resulting in severe social distress in the project.
- Cannot be revitalized through assistance under other programs, such as the Capital Fund and Operating Fund programs for public housing under the 1937 Act, or the programs under sections 9 or 14 of the 1937 Act because of cost constraints and inadequacy of available amounts.
- In the case of an individual building that currently forms a portion of the public and/or assisted housing project: (i) is sufficiently separable from the remainder of the project of which the building is part, such that the revitalization of the building is feasible; or (ii) was part of the targeted public and/or assisted housing project that has been legally vacated or demolished, but for which HUD has not yet provided replacement housing assistance (other than tenant-based assistance). “Replacement housing assistance” is defined as funds that have been furnished by HUD to perform major rehabilitation on, or reconstruction of, the public and/or assisted housing that have been legally vacated or demolished.
B. Severely distressed project that has been legally vacated or demolished (but for which HUD has not yet provided replacement housing assistance, other than tenant-based assistance) must have met the definition of physical distress not later than the day the demolition application approval letter was signed by HUD.
2. Eligible neighborhoods are neighborhoods:
A. With at least 20 percent of the residents estimated to be in poverty or have extremely low incomes based on the most recent data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau; and
B. That are experiencing distress related to at least one of the following:
- High crime; defined as where either the Part I violent crime rate (measured as Part I Violent Crimes per 1000 persons) over the three years 2015-2017 is at least 1.5 times the per capita Part I violent crime rate (measured as Part I Violent Crimes per 1000 persons) of the city or, where no city data is available, county/parish in which the neighborhood is located over the same time frame; or the rate is greater than 18 crimes per 1000 persons; or
- High vacancy or, for applications targeting Indian housing, substandard homes; defined as where either the most current rate within the last year of long-term vacant or substandard homes is at least 1.5 times higher than that of the county/parish; or the rate is greater than 4 percent.
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