U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson on Thursday announced the award of five Choice Neighborhood Initiative Implementation Grants totaling $144 million to redevelop severely distressed public housing and to revitalize surrounding neighborhood. Two of the awardees, Tulsa, OK and Baltimore, MD, include St. Louis based, Urban Strategies, Inc. (USI), a leading non-profit that supports human capital and transformative neighborhood redevelopment, and McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., a leading affordable housing development company, as primary team members. Each city was awarded $30 million in funding to leverage significant public and private dollars to support locally driven strategies that address challenged neighborhoods through a comprehensive approach.
“We are excited to be a part of the teams awarded the Choice Neighborhood Grant,” said Esther Shin, President of USI. “As we have seen here in St. Louis, in the Near North Side neighborhood, and places like Louisville, Kentucky, the Choice Neighborhoods Grant catalyzes the creation of critical pathways for families and communities to thrive.”
In 2016, the City of St. Louis, USI and McCormack Baron Salazar leveraged a $29.5 million Choice Neighborhood Implementation (CNI) Grant, along with $2.6 billion in additional support to develop affordable housing, infrastructure, economic opportunities, and support services in the Near North Side St. Louis neighborhood.
“The Choice Neighborhood Initiative is a unique program that holistically addresses myriad challenges faced by distressed urban communities,” said Vincent R. Bennett, President of McCormack Baron Salazar. “Its multidimensional approach encompasses housing, people, and economic development and requires strong partnerships like those we have built with cities, housing authorities, schools, residents and other stakeholders.”
The CNI awards resulted from 2017 applications filed by the Tulsa Housing Authority (THA) and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC). Both applications were strengthened through partnerships with residents, city government, the local school district, universities, business owners, service providers, and philanthropic partners.
“Since the Choice Neighborhood program began in 2010, McCormack Baron Salazar and Urban Strategies have been on 12 of the 27 teams who have received these CNI grants,” explained Richard D. Baron, Co-Founder and Chairman of McCormack Baron Salazar. “Our holistic approach to transforming places through housing, human capital, and neighborhood development is key source to our success – and a critical component of the developments we have planned with our local partners in Tulsa and Baltimore.”
McCormack Baron Salazar-led housing plans include developing new affordable and market rate apartment homes (460 in Tulsa and 629 in Baltimore) with a variety of mixed-use, townhouse-, garden-, and flat-style apartments and featuring market rate amenities. The new housing will be complemented with new neighborhood amenities in the form of green spaces, retail shops, and shared community spaces.
USI’s People Plan for both communities includes results-based strategies for increasing the number of children in early education programs, increased resident access to quality physical and mental healthcare, connecting ex-offenders and working age adults to a coordinated pathway of economic mobility and neighborhood revitalization, increasing adult financial empowerment skills among other critical supports. Strategies have been tailored based on local assets and needs.