The Initial Outcomes and Challenges of Choice Neighborhoods

The Initial Outcomes and Challenges of Choice Neighborhoods
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Through investments in housing improvements combined with broader neighborhood safety and redevelopment efforts, the federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative aims to strengthen low-income neighborhoods facing a variety of challenges, deconcentrate poverty and create healthy, mixed-income neighborhoods. Since 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded 56 planning grants of up to $500,000 and 13 implementation grants of up to $30.5 million.

The first five implementation grants went to the Quincy Corridor in Boston, Woodlawn in Chicago, Iberville-Tremé in New Orleans, Eastern Bayview in San Francisco, and Yesler in Seattle. The Choice Neighborhoods implementation period lasts five years. HUD contracted with MDRC and the Urban Institute track baseline conditions and evaluate grantees' efforts over the first two years.

Major findings:

  • By September 2013, housing development was underway or scheduled in all five sites. In most sites, demolition was either complete or in progress. Two sites had begun construction of new housing.
  • Site control impeded offsite development plans in New Orleans Offsite development was also hindered in Chicago by a weak housing market.
  • Initial service offerings were focused on relocation assistance and case management. The public housing sites, which all had experience with HOPE VI redevelopment, launched their service programs more quickly than the project-based Section 8 locations.
  • Boston and Seattle had begun work on "Critical Community Improvements" in concert with local neighborhood investment priorities.
  • Engagement by mayors or city councils facilitated interagency collaboration on coordinated neighborhood improvements spanning housing, infrastructure, transportation, and economic development.
  • Grantees had all connected residents with services in at least one of the following areas: education, health, workforce development, and early childhood supports.
  • In Boston, Chicago, and New Orleans, demolition happened faster than case management and relocation services could be completed.
  • To achieve the planned public safety improvements, grantees need to access additional funding and expertise.