The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been awarded a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to create community-based coalitions designed to lead revitalization efforts at Dr. Ramon E. Betances Houses and transform the Mott Haven neighborhood in the South Bronx. NYCHA chose to focus on the Mott Haven community after an extensive review of the neighborhood’s public housing portfolio and residents’ needs, as compared to other public housing communities. Over 17,000 public housing residents live in five NYCHA developments across 84 buildings in Mott Haven. Despite its size, the community has been historically disconnected and challenged by high crime, low performing schools, disinvestment in infrastructure and poor health of residents. NYCHA aims to address these issues with the federal funds.
“This is an incredible opportunity for NYCHA to make a tangible difference in the quality of life of many of the residents of Betances Houses and the Mott Have community in general,” said NYCHA Chairman John Rhea. “We recognize that a major transformation is needed in this neighborhood and with these funds we are better equipped to work with local stakeholders – public and private—to develop and invest in a comprehensive transformation plan that will address the needs of this distressed public housing development and surrounding community, and in effect create a “choice neighborhood.”
“This funding will enable the City of New York to take its initial discussions with local partners further to plan out strategies to build a stronger, more sustainable community that will address distressed housing, failing schools, and rampant crime in this housing and community,” said Mirza Orriols, HUD’s Deputy Regional Administrator. “The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there.”
“The CNI Planning Grant will enable us to develop a plan for creative ways to attract additional resources to public housing neighborhoods,” said NYCHA Board Vice Chair Emily Youssouf. “Winning this grant demonstrates to HUD, residents and our citywide partners that we will do our best to pursue funding opportunities, particularly when they align with PLAN NYCHA. “
“I am pleased that we have received this grant, which will make it possible for us to make great strides towards improving the Mott Haven area,” said John Johnson, Bronx leader of NYCHA’s Citywide Council of Presidents and a Mott Haven resident.
NYCHA has selected the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) as the Planning Coordinator for these efforts. With over 32 years serving the South Bronx, LISC will bring its depth of experience to develop a transformation plan led by residents; build the strength and capacity of the community-based organizations; and leverage private and public financing for development.
Commenting further, Chairman Rhea adds: “As part of Plan NYCHA, I’ve consistently stated that we’d pursue partnerships and innovative options to revitalize NYCHA communities; the Choice Neighborhood Initiative is an ideal opportunity to deliver on that promise.”
Throughout this planning process, NYCHA will coordinate with stakeholders to join the fight to preserve public housing in the Bronx that will support positive outcomes for the Mott Have community that include encouraging open space and ‘greening’ improvements; expanding access to educational and career opportunities; and better access to healthy foods. NYCHA is one of 17 entities across the country to receive Choice Neighborhoods Plannning Grants in 2012 and was selected from among 72 applicants.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) (Planning Coordinator), NYC Dept. of Youth and Community Development; Small Business Services; the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education; Center for Economic Opportunity; the Mayor’s Office and its Young Men’s Initiative; Hostos Community College; BronxWorks; The Hub Third Avenue Business Improvement District; East Side Settlement House; Per Scholas; Sustainable South Bronx; Mothers on the Move; Nose Quedamos; and the Regional Plan Association.
About Choice Neighborhoods Initiative:
Choice Neighborhoods is one of the signature programs of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which supports innovative, holistic strategies that bring public and private partners together to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Choice Neighborhoods encourages collaboration between HUD and the Departments of Education, Justice, Treasury and Health and Human Services to support local solutions for sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods with the affordable housing, safe streets and good schools all families need. Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants are awarded to entities that have completed a comprehensive local planning process and are ready to move forward with their Transformation Plan to redevelop their target housing and neighborhoods. In August, HUD announced the nine finalists that will compete for approximately $110 million in 2012 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants to transform public and other HUD-assisted housing in targeted neighborhoods. Teams recently completed site visits as part of the application review process to determine which of the finalists will receive Implementation grants.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA):
NYCHA provides decent and affordable housing in a safe and secure living environment for low and moderate- income residents in New York City. NYCHA serves approximately 420,000 public housing residents across 334 developments in all 5 boroughs. To fulfill this mission, NYCHA must preserve its aging housing stock through timely maintenance and modernization of its developments. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments. Simultaneously, we work to enhance the quality of life at NYCHA by offering our residents opportunities to participate in a multitude of community, educational and recreational programs, as well as job readiness and training initiatives.