NEW YORK, March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is applauding the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) first $4 million in Choice Neighborhoods planning grants to coalitions in 17 communities, including those in Providence, Kansas City and Philadelphia, where LISC is convening partners and providing financial support to significant community redevelopment efforts.
HUD also announced the six finalists for $61 million in Choice Neighborhoods implementation grants, which include LISC-supported neighborhood revitalization efforts in Chicago and Boston.
"We couldn't be more excited about these grants," noted Mary Paumen, director of LISC's Housing Authority Resource Center. "Choice Neighborhoods reinforces and expands so much of the work we are doing with partners in these neighborhoods. This is not just about affordable housing. It is about rebuilding whole communities."
Choice Neighborhoods is an evolution of the federal HOPE VI program that moves beyond traditional public housing and toward a more comprehensive approach to neighborhood redevelopment, integrating quality mixed-income housing with other interrelated aspects of a healthy community. It also expands that approach by including privately owned subsidized housing.
It dovetails with LISC's national Building Sustainable Communities initiative, which organizes and supports broad, integrated community development efforts focused not only on the built environment, but also on quality schools, revitalized commercial corridors, job creation, safe streets, recreational programs, financial literacy for low-income families, urban farms and markets, and community health care, among many other things.
"HUD is clearly aligning innovative programs with the needs of struggling communities," noted Vincent O'Donnell, vice president of the LISC Preservation Initiative. "Choice Neighborhoods reflects the agency's responsiveness and commitment to having a lasting impact on low-income communities."
For instance, the implementation grant finalists include the city of Boston, specifically the Morrant Bay project sponsored by Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, and a Chicago effort led by Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), to redevelop Grove Parc in the Woodlawn community. Both include significant technical and predevelopment support from LISC for the projects involved, and connect to LISC's ongoing work in the surrounding communities to help residents reduce blight and crime, improve educational outcomes, fuel transit-oriented development, stabilize families' financial outlook, stimulate retail development and jobs, and bolster overall neighborhood economic prospects.
"Choice Neighborhoods reinforces our comprehensive work to support high-impact community-based organizations and improve overall quality of life," noted Bob Van Meter, Boston LISC's executive director. "Our goal is to create healthier communities that are good places for families to live and to build sustainable prosperity," agreed Barb Beck, director of financial services with Chicago LISC.
The new planning grants are focused on projects with the potential to be transformative for their communities.
In Kansas City, for instance, HUD awarded $250,000 to a coalition led by the Housing Authority of Kansas City to help with planning for Chouteau Courts, an aging public housing project in the Paseo Gardens neighborhood, which suffers from isolation, high concentrations of poverty and some of the lowest public school test scores in the state. The housing authority envisions a plan that will provide for mixed-income replacement public housing on multiple sites, with walkable city blocks and better access to schools, employment, and services. Kansas City LISC both partnered on the Choice Neighborhoods application and is providing significant additional support to revitalization efforts in this community.
In Providence, the Providence Housing Authority will use its $250,000 Choice Neighborhoods grant to build on revitalization efforts in the Olneyville community that are already underway and supported by the city, LISC, and others. They include construction of a new multi-service Family Success Center, a citywide green jobs training program and a community garden. In partnership with its coordinating agency, the Olneyville Housing Corporation (OHC), as well as with LISC, Omni Development, Rhode Island Housing, the city of Providence and the Providence Economic Development Partnership, PHA's focus is on transforming the Manton Heights public housing development and promoting mixed-income housing, expanding and enhancing the Family Success Center, and developing a comprehensive neighborhood economic development plan. OHC is also LISC's lead agency partner in Olneyville.
And, in Philadelphia, Choice Neighborhoods is supporting redevelopment planning for Mt. Vernon Manor, an assisted housing project in the very low-income Mantua neighborhood, with a $250,000 grant. Philadelphia LISC is providing technical assistance, and this property is adjacent to its SCI-West target neighborhood. Driven by the nonprofit Mt. Vernon, Inc., as well as Diamond and Associates, the collaboration of local partners will assess the already existing physical, socio-economic and educational assets currently present in the neighborhood and engage residents and local community groups in a collaborative process to identify the areas where improvements to the neighborhood can be made. The planning process will be supported by Philadelphia's Drexel University and local Head Start and Keystone Stars programs that focus on early childhood development.
"The health of a community isn't just about the buildings on the street," O'Donnell said. "Certainly, the built environment is fundamental to any community's recovery. Choice Neighborhoods recognizes that, as does LISC," he said. "But it is one part of the puzzle. The other pieces must be in place for low-income residents to take control of their future, raise their standards of living and thrive."
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $11.1 billion to build or rehab 277,000 affordable homes and develop 44 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. LISC support has leveraged nearly $33.9 billion in total development activity. For more information, visit www.lisc.org.
Colleen Mulcahy, LISC/NEF Communications
312-342-8244 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation