Millions to Transform Inner Cities
The Obama administration’s effort to create government-sanctioned “sustainable communities” moved ahead this week, with the announcement of almost $5 million in planning grants.
Seventeen poor communities across the U.S. will share the $4.95 million to draft plans for the “next generation" of public housing and other "sustainable" neighborhood improvements, such as better schools, anti-crime efforts, and greater access to health care and grocery stores.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan said the "Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants" are intended to revitalize entire neighborhoods – “to improve the lives of the residents who live there.”
In other words, the planned infrastructure improvements lean heavily on social engineering.
The Obama administration defines sustainable communities as places that have a variety of housing and transportation choices, with destinations (such as schools and shopping) that are close to home. “As a result, they tend to have lower transportation costs, reduce air pollution and stormwater runoff, decrease infrastructure costs, preserve historic properties and sensitive lands, save people time in traffic, be more economically resilient and meet market demand for different types of housing at different prices points.”
"It means safer, greener, more livable communities," President Obama said two years ago.
According to HUD, the planning grants announced on Thursday focus on housing, people, and neighborhoods, as follows:
▪ Housing: Transform distressed public and assisted housing into energy efficient, mixed-income housing that is physically and financially viable over the long-term;
▪ People: Support “positive outcomes” for families in terms of health, safety, employment, mobility, and education;
▪ Neighborhood: Transform impoverished neighborhoods into mixed-income neighborhoods with access to well-functioning services, high quality public schools and education programs, high quality early learning programs and services, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs.
The grant recipients will work with community members, businesses, institutions and local government officials to produce a "successful neighborhood transformation" plan.
Choice Neighborhoods is part of a White House effort to bring public and private partners together to “help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. “
Congress approved funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative with passage of HUD’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget.
With Thursday’s announcement, HUD so far has awarded a total of $12.55 million in planning grants to 46 cities or counties. The program also includes “implementation grants,” which go to those cities and agencies that have developed a plan – and are now ready to begin the actual redevelopment.
Last year, HUD awarded the first implementation grants – a total of $122.27 million – to five cities: Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle. In August, HUD announced that nine finalists are competing for approximately $110 million in 2012 implementation grants to transform public and other HUD-assisted housing.
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