HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 12-26
Rhonda Siciliano
(617) 994-8355
For Release
October 12, 2012

17 entities nationwide receive grants to execute grassroots efforts to revitalize housing, communities

BOSTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley will receive $300,000 to execute grassroots efforts to revitalize the public housing at Veterans Memorial Housing and transform the Our Neighbors' Planning District neighborhood. [see below for Woonsocket grant summary].

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley is one of 17 entities from across the U.S. receiving a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant today. The funding provides these communities the resources they need to craft comprehensive, community-driven plans to revitalize public or other HUD-assisted housing and transform distressed neighborhoods.

"This funding will enable NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley 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, rampant crime in this housing and community," said Nancy Smith Greer, HUD Rhode Island Field Office Director. "HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there."

HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. Building on the successes of HUD's HOPE VI Program, Choice Neighborhoods links housing improvements with necessary services for the people who live there - including schools, public transit and employment opportunities.

"I congratulate NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and Woonsocket Housing Authority for winning this competitive grant which will be used to engage residents and the community in planning for the redevelopment of the Veterans Memorial public housing complex," said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, which oversees the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. "This crucial funding will supplement existing community development efforts to promote better access to schools, transportation, jobs, and other services for residents in Woonsocket."

The awardees announced today were selected from among 72 applications. Successful applicants demonstrated their intent to plan for the transformation of neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing while leveraging investments to create high-quality public schools, outstanding education and early learning programs, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs and well-functioning services. HUD focused on directing resources to address three core goals:

  • 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 who live in the target development(s) and the surrounding neighborhood, particularly outcomes related to residents' health, safety, employment, mobility, and education; and
  • Neighborhood: Transform neighborhoods of poverty into viable, 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 grantees will use the funding to work with local stakeholders - public and/or assisted housing residents, community members, businesses, institutions and local government officials - to undertake a successful neighborhood transformation to create a "choice neighborhood." The awardees will use the funding to create a comprehensive Transformation Plan, or road map, to transforming distressed public and/or assisted housing within a distressed community.

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.

Congress approved the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative with the passage of HUD's FY2010 budget. Funding is provided through two separate programs - Implementation Grants and Planning Grants. With this announcement, HUD has awarded a total of $12.55 million in Planning Grants to 46 cities or counties.

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.

Last year, HUD awarded its first CN Implementation grants for Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, a combined $122.27 million investment to bring comprehensive neighborhood revitalization to blighted areas in these cities.


HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.



[Map of Woonsocket, RI]

Woonsocket, RI

Choice Neighborhoods Lead Grantee: NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
Choice Neighborhoods Co-Grantee: Woonsocket Housing Authority
Target Public Housing Projects: Veterans Memorial Housing Development
Target Neighborhood: Our Neighbors' Planning District
Choice Neighborhoods Grant Amount: $300,000

Key Partners:
Dorgan Architecture and Planning (Planning Coordinator), Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corporation, City of Woonsocket, Family Resources Community Action, Connecting for Children and Families, Thundermist Health Center, and Rhode Island Legal Services.

Project Summary:
The Our Neighbors' Planning District is one of the most diverse and impoverished communities in the State of Rhode Island. It suffers from economic and industrial decline and from disinvestment resulting in substandard housing and high vacancy rates. Nearly half of the neighborhood's population lives below the poverty line, with long term vacancy rates of over 12 percent, and in the last six years the neighborhood public school has been identified as having made "insufficient progress" towards meeting the Rhode Island Department of Education's annual yearly performance goals. However, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV), the Woonsocket Housing Authority (WHA), Dorgan Architecture and Planning (Dorgan) and other partners will engage the community to build on the existing Our Neighbors' plan for how the 300-unit Veterans Memorial public housing site can be redeveloped to provide housing opportunities, amenities, and services this neighborhood needs.

The Our Neighbors' plan was convened with the support of the Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corporation and engaged hundreds of residents and 30 organizational partners to craft a comprehensive vision for the neighborhood around economic development, health, safety, education, community engagement, and reknitting the neighborhood's physical fabric. Over $15 million has been leveraged to support the plan since it was completed in 2010.

The Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant will allow NWBRV, WHA, Dorgan and other partners to build on the existing plan, turning it into a comprehensive neighborhood Transformation Plan that will be sustainable for years to come. NWBRV, WHA, and Dorgan will lead a seven-stage planning process to build a stronger community by expanding the efforts already underway and developing a shared vision for the future of the Our Neighbors' Planning District neighborhood. Community engagement will play a pivotal role in informing the plan's progress, by soliciting input through one-on-one stakeholder and community meetings. The resulting Transformation Plan will address the need for quality education, resident safety, access to fresh foods and groceries, commercial development and employment.


Content Archived: April 17, 2014