HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. TN-10-11-12
Knoxville: Ed Ellis
(865) 474-8205
For Release
October 11, 2012

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

KNOXVILLE - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority (KHRA) will receive $300,000 to execute grassroots efforts to revitalize the public housing at Robert E. Lee Apartments and transform the Midtown neighborhood.

KHRA 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 the KHRA 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 Ed Jennings, Jr., HUD Southeast Regional Administrator. "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.

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. See past Planning grantees list on HUD's website.

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.


[Map: Kingsport, Tennessee] Kingsport, TN

Choice Neighborhoods Lead Grantee: Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority
Target Public Housing Project: Robert E. Lee Apartments
Target Neighborhood: Midtown
Choice Neighborhoods Grant Amount: $300,000

Key Partners:
Urban Collage (Planning Coordinator), City of Kingsport, Greater Kingsport Alliance for Development, Eastern Eight Community Development, Northeast State Community College, Kingsport Boys and Girls Club, Literacy Council of Kingsport, Operation Breakthrough (Head Start), Rural Health Services Consortium, Frontier Health, City of Kingsport Police and Fire Department, Employability Training & Consulting Services, Alliance for Business & Training, Sullivan County Department of Human Services, Eastman Chemical, Domtar, City of Kingsport Economic Development, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport Tomorrow, South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, Kingsport Area Transport Service, Wellmont's Holston Valley Medical Center, The Fresh Start Foundation, and United Way of Greater Kingsport.

Project Summary:
In the early 20th century, Midtown Kingsport was a center of the paper products, publishing, textiles, chemicals, glass and cement manufacturing sectors and a regional employment magnet. However, Kingsport could not escape the inner city and downtown deterioration that began in the 1970s and occurred throughout the U.S. as businesses fled the downtown area for the suburbs. Crime and drugs moved in and accelerated the exodus of families outside the city. Living conditions in the Midtown neighborhood spiraled downward the neighborhood became a center for criminal activity. Today, many of the residential and commercial structures are deteriorated. The poverty rate is 40.02 percent and the long-term vacancy rate is 17.88 percent. Lee Apartments' 128 public housing units are highly concentrated and the most distressed housing in the neighborhood.

However, the Midtown neighborhood includes the historic downtown area, where major public and private investments are planned and underway. The Choice Neighborhoods initiative in Kingsport, led by the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Urban Collage as the planning coordinator, will leverage and build upon these existing plans and investments. A stakeholder steering committee will guide planning activities. Focus groups will be formed around critical issues such as health, education, and safety. KHRA, Urban Collage, the stakeholder steering committee and the focus groups will design, administer and implement a four-part transformation planning process over the 24-month grant-planning period. An independent monitoring and evaluation entity will track progress. The resulting Transformation Plan will provide a roadmap for the revitalization of Midtown with the following objectives: increased access to educational opportunities and training to prepare neighborhood residents for well-paying jobs; access to improved education; shopping and employment; transportation, parks and recreation; housing and neighborhood improvements; and public safety to attract new residents who want to live closer to their employment


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.


Content Archived: February 28, 2014