Choice Neighborhoods


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods program, building on the HOPE VI public housing rehabilitation program, aims to transform impoverished neighborhoods into functioning, sustainable mixed income neighborhoods. Important in this effort is the inclusion of appropriate services and access to transportation, jobs and public schools. Originally envisioned by the Obama administration to be linked to the existing HOPE VI public housing program, the final budget bill created Choice Neighborhoods as a separate program. Launched in 2009, the program has a FY 2010 budget of $65 million. President Obama has requested $250 million for FY 2011.

The goal of Choice Neighborhoods is to provide a more comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization, including well-functioning services, schools, public assets, transportation, and access to jobs. These grants will primarily fund the preservation, rehabilitation and transformation of public and HUD-assisted housing, but will also engage local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers in partnerships to improve neighborhoods. Communities are also required to include an education component that could include the provision of early childhood education, health education, resources for parents, school improvements and other education-related services.

Under the program, grants may be used for both public housing and HUD-assisted properties. Unlike HOPE VI, Choice Neighborhoods can benefit community development corporations in low-income areas because of its broad scope of eligible activities, as well as the wide range of various groups that are eligible to receive grants. Other eligible recipients include local governments, public housing agencies, assisted housing owners, and for-profit and non-profit entities. To qualify, at least 40 percent of a neighborhood's residents must live below the federal poverty line of about $22,000 for a family of four. Additionally, these communities will be required to provide matching funds from state and local authorities or from private funding. Ten percent of the money will be used for planning grants.