U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development: Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant Program
The Choice Neighborhoods program leverages significant public and private dollars to support locally driven strategies that address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or 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 redeveloping severely distressed public and/or HUD-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 well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding 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, that are important to families’ choices about their community
To achieve these core goals, successful applicants must develop and implement a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy, or Transformation Plan. This Transformation Plan becomes the guiding document for the revitalization of the public and/or assisted housing units, while simultaneously directing the transformation of the surrounding neighborhood.
Funding may be used for the following activities, which should be included as appropriate to the local context and based on the current status of the local planning process.
- Conduct comprehensive needs assessments to inform the development of the Transformation Plan.
- Undertake a comprehensive and integrated planning process that addresses the challenges and gaps in services and assets identified through the needs assessments and leads to a plan for implementation that has broad community support, in the areas of: housing, people, and neighborhood.
- Conduct technical planning studies concerning local development issues, priorities, or suggested appropriate approaches in the context of the local housing market relative to other alternatives. This could include new approaches to housing, economic development, capital improvement programming, or community relations. However, any such studies should directly further the integration of strategies to develop a comprehensive neighborhood-level Transformation Plan.
- Work with public and private agencies, organizations (including philanthropic organizations), and individuals to: develop the Transformation Plan which includes a governance strategy that will provide long-term accountability and secure commitments to collaborate long-term to ensure it will be implemented successfully; gather and leverage resources needed to support the financial sustainability of the Transformation Plan; identify strategies for building upon and leveraging existing neighborhood efforts and anticipated Federal, state, regional, and local investments; and strengthen management and decision-making capacities of participating organizations.
- Ensure meaningful resident, community, and stakeholder participation throughout the development of the Transformation Plan, including but not limited to public hearings, meetings, websites, forums, charrettes, and other communication that will provide all aspects of the policy and development plans and alternative options to neighborhood residents, local business owners and employees, and civic and community organization representatives in sufficient time for them to review, react, and make informed decisions on how proposed plans and policies will impact their daily lives.
- Plan for the collection and strategic use of relevant data to track future community impacts once the Transformation Plan is implemented by employing statistical and qualitative analysis of specific metrics developed in partnership with the appropriate local, state, regional, and federal agencies/organizations. Such planning should focus on integrating data systems across agencies and/or negotiating data sharing agreements so that these data can be used for intervention targeting and improvement.
- Identify and secure the involvement of effective practices and actors based on the best available evidence. Such activities may include conducting site visits, research, or participating in a community of practice, which is a group of grantees that agrees to interact regularly to solve a persistent problem or improve practice in an area that is important to them and the success of their project, enabling grantees to meet, discuss, and collaborate with each other regarding grantee projects.
Early Action Activities; up to $50,000. These are grant funds that may be used toward limited, physical neighborhood improvements during the planning process. They must support the planning process through engaging the community, building capacity, fostering social cohesion, or otherwise reinforcing the planning process.
The term “Action Activities” refers to any Planning and Action Grant funds over $350,000 awarded for limited, physical neighborhood improvements during the three-year Planning and Action Grant period. Action Activity funds are flexible funds that must be responsive to the neighborhoods’ needs. They must be used for physical community development or economic development projects that enhance and accelerate the transformation of the neighborhood. The projects funded may also build community capacity and social cohesion through the way in which the projects are designed, led, and implemented. Action Activities cannot be used for non-physical uses, such as supportive services, administrative costs (e.g., staffing, meeting space), and marketing. These funds must not be used for basic infrastructure or as a substitute for basic municipal services. Additionally, funds must not be used for housing development activities (including the public or HUD-assisted housing targeted in this application), such as acquisition, relocation, demolition and remediation, rehabilitation, or construction.
Amount: A total of $5,000,000 is available to make up to six awards to include three planning and action grants that will range up to $1,300,000 each and three planning grants will will range up to $350,000 each. The term of a Planning and Action Grant is 3 1/2 years, while term of a planning grant is 2 years. By the end of the grant term, applicants are required to have matching funds in the amount of five percent of the grant amount in cash or in-kind donations.
Eligibility: PHAs, local governments, tribal entities, and nonprofits. Each application must focus on the revitalization of at least one severely distressed public and/or assisted housing project. Eligible neighborhoods for Choice Neighborhoods grant funds are neighborhoods:
- 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
- Experiencing distress related to at least one of the following: (1) 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 (2) 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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